Vice-President Alik L. Alik Addressed the 19th Annual Meeting of the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Program (SPREP)
Palikir, POHNPEI (FSM Information Services): September 30, 2008 - On September 8, 2008 the Honorable Alik L. Alik, Vice-President and Chairman of FSM Sustainable Development Council, delivered his formal address during the opening of the officials of the 19th Annual Meeting of the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Program held at the COM-FSM Multipurpose Gymnasium in Palikir.
In his opening remarks Vice-President Alik said that the importance of environment to our region as well as beyond can not be overemphasized. He indicated that it was the distinctive mandate of SPREP to make sure that our island environment does not get unduly compromised with the growing aspirations of our citizens for better economic and social life. He went on the emphasize that is was incumbent upon us to ensure a harmonious balance between our economic and social needs, and aspirations, and the capacity of our natural surrounding to sustain those needs.
The Vice-President stated, "This is what Sustainable Development is all about, and it presents a formidable challenge for islands like ours with small economies of scale, meager resource base and limited capacity. In view of these shortcomings, many of us resort to the need for prioritization of competing interests and needs, with the support and generosity of our donor partners to lend a helping hand."
He further stated, "I am fully cognizant of the environmental challenges that confront my people and for which the council is tasked to prioritize them and to coordinate national efforts. Most notable is the concern for Climate Change and its related consequences of rising sea-level, extreme weather events, collapsing ecosystems and freshwater contamination. Much has been said on this critical issue for small island states at the International FORA including at the United Nations both individually and collectively".
Vice-President Alik alluded to the fact that climate change remains the number one security and existential threat to our small vulnerable islands. More effort is needed in the region and the global level to raise recognition of climate change as a threat to our existence, and to global peace and security.
He went on to say, "I am pleased to be part of the decision to endorse the Niue Declaration on Climate Change in representing my government in the Niue Forum. No doubt it was an important outcome for an issue of specific importance to the smaller countries like many of us, but what would matter most is in translating these noble words into enhanced actions, as agreed to in the Bali Action Plan, stressing assistance in the areas of adaptation, mitigation and clean energy. Other options need to be considered when necessary, but key environmental issues such as Climate Change will pose a tremendous challenge for SPREP and its Secretariat to guide and assist member Countries and Territories."
He added that one such challenge is relocation of island of coastal populations from their ancestral home, which is already happening in the region in at least two instances, as a consequence of sea-level rise. He further added that pre-Kyoto emissions had rendered such relocations unavoidable, for which the major emitters should accept responsibility. But, with the world agreeing to combat climate change pursuant to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and its Kyoto Protocol, relocation is not a future option, as it violates the very objectives of the convention, as spelled out in its Article 2. He also stressed that, "A Post-Kyoto arrangement should therefore ensure that such forced relocations not happen again."
The Vice-President also stated that SPREP had never before been stretched and challenged in terms of providing available resources to deliver needed services to its membership, and further indicated that environmental problems confronting our islands and peoples are growing not only in breath but in depth as well in terms of urgency and severity.
"SPREP has been asked to do more with less," Vice President Alik said, "there is a need for its membership to commit ourselves to SPREP and its Secretariat if we think that SPREP and its special mandate is important enough [...] which we do [...] to preserved and strengthen."
He noted with appreciation the Secretariat's paper on Climate Change Action Plan to implement the Pacific Island Framework Action on Climate Change endorsed by Forum Leaders in 2005. He mentioned that it was important that we mobilize regional efforts in addressing the impacts of Climate Change while seeking the support and assistance of the Global Community as agreed under relevant International Treaties and Conventions like the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and its Kyoto Protocol.
He also noted with appreciation the variety of topical issues suggested by members on licensing requirements under the Montreal Protocol, which some members like FSM are yet to realize; genetic resources in terms of access-and benefit sharing; support for meteorology and climatology; streamlining of report under International Environment Instruments which had been a concern for small island states and sharing of information on pollution prevention by way of the country profiles.
Vice President Alik ended his remarks by declaring the 19th SPREP officials meeting open.
The SPREP Conference went on for 4 days and ended on September 11, 2008 by which time summation of outcomes and findings was compiled.
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