Sat | Apr 1, 2023

Earth Today | AOSIS gets new chair

Published:Thursday | February 2, 2023 | 12:22 AM
Samoa PM Fiamē Naomi Mata’afa
Samoa PM Fiamē Naomi Mata’afa

THERE IS a new chair at the helm of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), which has represented the interests of 39 small-island and low-lying coastal developing states in global climate change and sustainable development negotiations since 1990.

The baton was passed from Antigua to the Pacific island of Samoa and into the hands of Samoa Prime Minister Fiamē Naomi Mata’afa.

The handover took place at a special plenary meeting on January 30.

“This culminates four years of AOSIS chairmanship within the Caribbean region, with Belize serving prior to Antigua and Barbuda. The regional rotation of chairmanship ensures fully inclusive representation among all Caribbean, Pacific, African, Indian Ocean and South China Seas members,” noted a release from AOSIS.

“AOSIS plays an integral role in international climate and sustainable development negotiations, and has been central to the advancement of small-island developing states’ priorities. Significantly, AOSIS has been a key figure in the milestone achievement of a loss and damage fund establishment at the recent COP27 in November 2023,” it added.

As the new chair, Fiamē committed to building on the work of previous chairs. She will focus, she said, on climate change, sustainable development, and the ocean, as well as on issues including food security, energy, and more ambition on finance to support the achievement of agreed targets under the Sustainable Development Goals, the Paris Agreement and the SAMOA Pathway.

“For 2023, we will continue the work to advance our collective interests in climate change, especially with respect to climate financing and the achievement of the 50/50 split between mitigation and adaptation. We will continue to keep the loss and damage flame burning and inject urgency into our efforts aimed at concluding BBNJ (Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction) negotiations,” the prime minister noted.

“Sustainable development is a key strategic priority. Economic recovery is an enormous challenge and responsibility. To this end, the importance and effective implementation of the Multidimensional Vulnerability Index (MVI) cannot be over-emphasised,” she added.

The MVI, the prime minister explained, is a tool to assist small-island developing states (SIDS) in addressing the economic recovery challenge, especially in relation to access to concessional financing, debt regime sustainability and ODA (overseas development assistance) eligibility and effectiveness.

“AOSIS has been at the forefront of this strategic process, and we must now, over the coming 12 months, complete what remains to be done,” she noted.

“Ocean is the lifeblood for most of our countries. But whilst its sustainable use provides a core pathway towards our future development and livelihoods, like the climate emergency, we must also urgently address the associated risks,” the prime minister said further.

The ocean-climate nexus, plastic pollution negotiations, the blue economy, and the Global Biodiversity Framework are, she said, key issues.

In his congratulatory address, Prime Minister Gaston Browne of Antigua and Barbuda said he was placing the chairmanship in most capable hands, and that his country looked forward to working with the new chair in preparation for the fourth UN International Conference for SIDS in 2024.