SAMOA: Small island conference leaves ‘legacy with impact’ – UN

The UN and Samoan flags are raised in the capital, Apia, for the UN Conference on Small Island Developing States. UN Photo/D. Dickinson

The UN and Samoan flags are raised in the capital, Apia, for the UN Conference on Small Island Developing States. UN Photo/D. Dickinson

Samoa, 4 September 2014 – With $1.9 billion pledged in sustainable development partnerships, the United Nations on Thursday wrapped up its small island developing state conference and kicked off a drum roll of action on climate change.

The Secretary-General of the Third International Conference on Small Island and Developing States, Wu Hongbo, characterized the summit, the largest of its kind in the Pacific, as “extraordinary.”

Briefing journalists in Apia, Samoa, Mr. Wu said 297 partnerships between governments, businesses, civil society and UN entities had been announced during the four days.

“Without a doubt, these partnerships leave a legacy with impact,” Mr. Hongo said. He added that the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) which he heads will take on the responsibility of reporting on the commitments’ progress to hold the participants to account.

The partnerships are in the areas of sustainable economic development, climate change and disaster risk management, social development, sustainable energy, ocean health, and water and sanitation, food security and waste management.

They are in line with the conference’s outcome document, nicknamed the Samoa Pathway, which was unanimously endorsed at the last plenary session today.

“The time for speeches is over,” Samoan Prime Minister Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Sailele Malielegaoi said in his closing statement. “We must now set sail with determination that the course of action we have chartered here… will be delivered to achieve our priorities.”

The end of the conference begins the countdown to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Climate Summit on 23 September at the UN Headquarters in New York.

Climate change is an anchoring issue at the conference in Samoa, which in 2009, experienced an earthquake and a tsunami.

“This conference actually starts what the Secretary-General calls the drum roll of action,” said Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Christiana Figueres. “Climate change is an anchoring issue at the conference in Samoa, which in 2009, experienced an earthquake and a tsunami.

Because that is what he is calling for, is for much, much more action on climate change.”

The UNFCCC is the parent treaty of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. In this context, Ms. Figueres is overseeing talks between countries for a universally accepted climate treaty to be hammered out next year in Paris.

Following today’s events, the UN flag was formally lowered over the Tuana’imato sports complex, symbolically returning the site to the Government of Samoa.