Three regional organisations have signed landmark agreements to co-operate on practical steps to deal with the effects of climate change and to promote sustainable development at a Commonwealth event at the Rio+20 Earth Conference.
The two memoranda of understanding (MOUs) were signed by the Indian Ocean Commission (IOC), the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (5Cs) and the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) on 20 June 2012 at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
The signing took place following a panel discussion titled ‘Across the Regions: Small Island Developing States Solutions for Sustainable Development’, organised by the Commonwealth Secretariat and the three regional bodies.
The well-attended event focused on strengthening collaboration among the three regions in promoting sustainable development.
Commonwealth Deputy Secretary-General Ransford Smith congratulated the three organisations for leading the way in demonstrating that through partnerships, experiences can be shared, good practices distilled and solutions found.
“At the end of the day, we want to see more small states drawing down more international financing more rapidly to support low-carbon, climate resilient development”, he said.
“The Commonwealth Secretariat has proactively promoted collaboration among the three organisations and is pleased that this has now resulted in the historic signing of two memoranda of understanding. We will continue to work with the organisations in developing concrete action plans as the next step in adding value to their efforts,” he added.
During the event current and prospective initiatives reflecting the priorities of small island developing states in sustainable development and climate change were discussed. These included issues such as oceans management, financing mechanisms, skills development and training, and youth engagement.
The Executive Director of 5Cs, Dr Kenrick Leslie, thanked the Commonwealth Secretariat for its support of his organisation, particularly in establishing a unit that focuses on the social and economic implications of climate change. This, he said, has contributed to the development of an implementation plan on climate change that has been approved by Caribbean Heads of Government.
Dr Leslie added that the signing of the MOUs would enhance co-operation and knowledge sharing across the regions.
“By signing these MOUs, we are demonstrating to the whole world that our regions can come together as one body to address issues affecting us, and how we can help each other through South-South co-operation,” Dr Leslie stated.
Speaking on behalf of SPREP, Sefanaia Nawadra, Director of Environment Monitoring and Governance, emphasised the value of partnerships in leveraging new opportunities and by drawing on the strengths of different organisations.
“Listening, learning, liaising and leading are the Four ‘Ls’ we need to adopt in taking forward these partnerships,” said Mr Nawadra.
He identified ocean governance, and solid and liquid waste management as two areas which could benefit from regional collaboration.
The IOC Secretary-General, Callixte D’Offay, said small island developing states could serve as early adopters of potentially innovative approaches to climate finance, such as debt swaps.
“We are making history through signing these memoranda of understanding, and signalling our determination and commitment to shape our future for the betterment of our people. We are crafting and charting a new way forward to ensure that mankind and our islands survive,” said Mr D’Offay.