UN Conference on SIDS – what role for the EU?
‘What role for the EU?’ was the theme of an evening of presentations and networking held at the European Parliament on June 10 2014.
The event aimed to draw attention of the European Parliament to the importance of the conference to SIDS and Samoa in particular but also to begin the process of reflection on how the outcome of the conference can be implemented in a timely and effective manner. The event was co-hosted by MEP Hiltrud Breyer who spoke on behalf of newly elected members of the European Parliament.
MEP Breyer highlighted that the effects of climate change threatens the very existence of small island developing countries. SIDS would require adaptation to infrastructural changes; and more importantly, a commitment from developed countries, including Europe, to change the way of production, distribution and consumption.
The EU Commissioner for Climate Action, Connie Hedegaard and Samoa’s Ambassador to the EU, HE Fatumanava III Dr. Paolelei Luteru (co-host), were the main key speakers.
Ambassador Luteru briefed the meeting on the key issues to be discussed during the conference and preparations to cater for the expected 3000 delegates. He further hoped that the upcoming Conference on SIDS in Samoa would be distinct from others that have gone before, through firm commitments to solidarity of action. He noted the Council of the European Union’s position on the SIDS conference and looked forward to EU/SIDS partnership that will evolve into durable, concrete and practical actions at the grass root level in SIDS communities. The EU role, particularly the Commission and the European Parliament – could be that of genuine leadership at the global level; and take forward the outcomes of the Conference.
Commissioner Hedegaard thanked the Ambassador of Samoa for raising awareness of the importance of the SIDS Conference at the level of the European Parliament. Recalling her personal experience when visiting Majuro for the Forum Leaders Meeting in 2013 where she met the Prime Minister of Samoa, Hedegaard firmly believes that small island countries are at the forefront of climate change and already a reality. On the EU’s role, Hedegaard believes that the EU and SIDS can join forces and show the world that it is indeed doable to grow our economies and at the same time reduce carbon and the general environment footprint. The outcomes of the SIDS Conference in Samoa can possibly pave the way into the UN SG’s Ban Ki Moon’s Summit in September 2014 in New York, and could create the new momentum in international climate change talks that is so badly needed at this time. She informed the gathering that the EC President Barroso will be attending the Conference in Samoa.Asked for a comment, Hedegaard says ‘The EU and the Small Island Developing States must continue our cooperation as outspoken advocates of international climate action. The cooperation we launched together in Durban has to succeed and it is thanks to our joint efforts that negotiations are now under way on the new global climate agreement. By continuing to work together we can succeed again’.
The event was attended not only by MEPs but also Ambassadors of SIDS, officials of the Commission and other EU institutions, ACP Secretariat and CTA, representatives of local environment bodies and media representatives.