Mr. Jeem Lippwe,
Charge d'Affaires, a.i.
Federated States of Micronesia
on behalf of the
Pacific Small Island Developing States (PSIDS)
64th United Nations General Assembly
Agenda Item 53 (b), (d) and (i)
New York, 2 November 2009
Check Against Delivery
I have the honour to speak on behalf of the Pacific Small Island Developing States (PSIDS) represented at the United Nations, namely Fiji, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Republic of the Marshall Islands, Nauru, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Tonga, Vanuatu, and my own country, the Federated States of Micronesia.
The agenda item on sustainable development is one of critical concern to the PSIDS. We are countries with significant vulnerabilities that deter our meaningful progress towards sustainable development. We face many challenges. Our geographic remoteness, limited economies of scale, narrow resource base, susceptibility to the impacts of climate change, as well as sensitivity to severe disruption from natural disasters severely hinders our path towards sustainable development.
Today I will comment on three sub-items under the item of sustainable development. These are (b) Follow-up to and implementation of the Mauritius Strategy for the Further Implementation of the Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Islands Developing States; (d) Protection of the global climate for present and future generations and (i) Promotion of new and renewable sources of energy.
In relation to the Mauritius Strategy, we welcome the Secretary-General's Report on this matter and the work already underway to prepare for the five year review of the implementation of the Mauritius Strategy. Yet, we already know that progress in implementation remains inadequate in the Pacific region. And to the extent we fail as an international community to fully implement the framework of action set out in the Mauritius Strategy to address the economic, environmental, and social vulnerabilities of small island developing states, people in those islands remain in poverty.
The Secretary-General's Report reminds us that the principal objective behind the Mauritius Strategy was to mobilise action. It was based on the recognition that the support of the UN system and international community is needed to improve the livelihoods of communities in small island developing states. Regrettably, sufficient action has not been mobilised.
There has been progress in the PSIDS to implement adaptation strategies and to address our vulnerabilities and we are grateful for the support we have received. However, there are a number of hurdles precluding the full implementation of the Mauritius Strategy, including limited technical, financial and human resources. The global economic crisis has exacerbated the lack of financial resources - and threatens to further reduce the support provided to the PSIDS. Unless sufficient donor assistance is provided, the goal of sustainable development remains out of reach for our people. We need assistance that delivers real outcomes for our people, rather than hollow pledges that are not kept.
We ask that the international community actively engage in the review of the Mauritius Strategy so that real progress can be made.
I will turn next to comment on the protection of the global climate for present and future generations.
The start of the UNFCCC negotiations in Copenhagen is almost upon us, yet there is little evidence of the political will needed to agree a deal that will protect the most vulnerable countries. We see continued rhetoric, but we do not see sufficient countries making pledges that will honour the UNFCCC objective to prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference in the climate system.
As members of AOSIS, we have clearly articulated our position for what is needed for mitigation. Greenhouse gas emissions must be reduced by 45% by 2020 and 85% by 2050 from 1990 levels so that the atmospheric concentration returns to 350 parts per million carbon dioxide equivalent as quickly as possible. Only then will we have a realistic chance of keeping global temperatures from rising more than 1.5 degrees centigrade above pre-industrial levels.
We also need adequate support for adaptation. In addition to already pledged ODA, developed countries should commit to providing 1% of their GNI, to developing countries for adaptation and mitigation projects. Developed countries should also share advanced technologies for renewable energy and adaptation. Climate change is already undermining the basic human rights of the people in the PSIDS, and even with deep emission cuts, the global temperature will continue to rise beyond the capacity of our small islands to adapt.
I would like to take this opportunity to remind the distinguished delegates in this Committee that the emission cuts we seek are based solely on the scientific evidence of what is needed to protect the very ability of our island nations to provide for the basic means of subsistence for our people.
The IPCC Fourth Assessment Report predicted sever negative impacts for small island states from a 2 degrees Celsius warming, which is why the AOSIS countries seek a rise as far below 1.5 degrees Celsius as possible.
If you ask us to accept anything less in Copenhagen, you ask us to agree to droughts and the destruction of freshwater supplies; you ask us to agree to sever losses in food production caused by inundation, erosion and saltwater intrusion on our agricultural land and ocean acidification and coral bleaching in our seas.
You ask us to agree to sever increases in the intensity and frequency of natural disasters - floods, hurricanes and landslides will destroy our communities and force displacement. Lives will be lost. And then you ask us to seek your aid, knowing all along that this could have been prevented.
And for some of the islands in the PSIDS our very statehood is seriously threatened by rising sea levels. The Fourth Assessment Report did not take into account the melting of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets. Experts now consider that a rise of one meter by 2100 is likely, with a multi-meter rise not out of the question. The low-lying atoll islands of Kiribati, the Republic of the Marshall Islands and Tuvalu are particularly exposed and are threatened with loss of territorial integrity and the risk of statelessness.
For the people in the PSIDS the outcome of Copenhagen will determine the quality of our future, and for some of us if we even have a future. Our survival is not negotiable.
Finally, Mr. Chairman, I would like to comment on the importance of renewable energy to contributing to both solving the climate crisis and providing for energy security, which is a key component of sustainable development.
In the Pacific, we have access to various types of renewable energy sources and Pacific Island countries have been actively pursuing projects to make better use of renewable energy and thereby reduce reliance on fossil fuels.
Many Pacific Islands have made strong commitments to increasing their use of renewable energy, although our countries contribute the least to global GHG emissions. For example, the Marshall Islands' goal is to include the provision of 20 per cent of energy through indigenous renewable resources by 2020. Nauru has set a target of 50 per cent renewable energy by 2015. Tonga has set a target of 40-50 per cent by 2010. Tuvalu, one of the most vulnerable countries to the impacts of climate change, has set a target of 100 per cent renewable energy by 2020.
Adequate financing and assistance with technological development is critical to the PSIDS fully utilising renewable energy to reduce GHG emissions and provide energy for communities who currently do not have any access. In this respect we are grateful for the support of the Government of Italy in assisting PSIDS countries develop and disseminate the use of local renewable energy sources. This cooperation has resulted in concrete projects that are providing tangible benefits for our people.
Of course, renewable energy offers the promise of greater energy security for all countries and the agreement in Copenhagen must facilitate access to new technologies including access to intellectual property rights to allow renewable energy to be fully realised as part of the solution to the climate crisis.
I thank you.