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Action Plan developed for Small Island States

Action Plan developed for Small Island States

New Zealand played a leading role in agreeing a new United Nations action plan on island countries Environment Minister and Associate Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Marian Hobbs said today.

"The Mauritius Meeting on Small Island Developing States led to a renewed focus on islands countries' vulnerability to natural disasters, climate change, and other threats like HIV/AIDS, diabetes and environmental degradation," Marian Hobbs said. "Nothing demonstrates poor countries' vulnerability more starkly than the Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami, which really focused minds on what needs to be done to build the resilience of island countries like our neighbours in the Pacific."

UN leadership, including Secretary General Kofi Annan, development banks, the leaders of small island states and ministers from donor countries attended the UN sponsored meeting. The main purpose was to review the implementation of the Barbados Programme of Action for small island developing states, agreed in 1994, following on from the Rio Earth Summit.

In her conference address Marian Hobbs stressed the need for both local and global solutions to the problems faced by small island developing states.

"Locally, for example, rules are required to protect natural defences. Rules might be about coastal development or deforestation or seeking safe infrastructure to handle sewage and wastewater. Traditional knowledge and culture have a role to play in determining the best way to build resilience. The global solutions included the funding of infrastructure that per capita is much more expensive for a small economy than for a large economy."

As a Pacific nation, New Zealand was committed to a strong outcome from the meeting, the minister added. New Zealand's United Nations Ambassador Don MacKay has chaired the various negotiations on the meeting's formal outcome, the Mauritius Strategy, which sets out a framework for action to build island nations' resilience. Good results included strong recognition of the need to address both the causes and impacts of climate change.

The meeting also saw the launch of the small island developing states universities' consortium, which will seek to build up cooperation between the University of the South Pacific in Suva, and other island-country universities.

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