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You are here : Home > News > Speeches > January 2005 > Speech by Jean-Louis Schiltz on behalf of the EU at the International Meeting for the comprehensive review of the Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States - 13.01.2005
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Speech by Jean-Louis Schiltz on behalf of the EU at the International Meeting for the comprehensive review of the Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States - 13.01.2005

Date of Speech : 13-01-2005

Place : Mauritius

Speaker : Jean-Louis Schiltz

Policy area : General Affairs and External Relations

His Excellency Mr Kofi Annan, Secretary-General of the United Nations

High Representative Mr Chowdhury,

Mr President,

Ambassadors, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I have the honour of speaking on behalf of the European Union.

The candidate countries (Bulgaria, Romania, Turkey and Croatia), the SAP countries and the potential candidate countries (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia, Serbia and Montenegro) align themselves with this declaration.

Firstly, Mr Secretary-General, allow me to express the dismay and sadness of my entire delegation and all the Member States of the European Union about the earthquake and the tidal wave in Asia and the Indian Ocean. We offer our deepest sympathy to all the people affected.

Coping with a disaster of this magnitude requires international assistance and coordination. I can assure you that the European Union is committed in the medium and long term to the lasting reconstruction and rehabilitation of the disaster-stricken countries.

Secondly, in the name of the European Union, I would like to thank the Small Island Developing States (SIDS), and in particular the Government of Mauritius, for the excellent organisation of this meeting, and above all, for the hospitality with which all the participants have been received.

The European Union is pleased to have been able to offer its support to the participation in this conference by the governments and the people of the SIDS.

The special circumstances of the Small Island Developing States were recognised by the international community at the Rio Summit in 1992 and at the Conference on the Sustainable Development of the Small Island Developing States in Barbados in 1994. Ten years on, the international community has assembled once again, on this beautiful island, to join the efforts of the Small Island Developing States in examining the progress made since 1994 - to evaluate the opportunities and difficulties that have emerged since that time and to see how to formulate an adequate response.

The European Union values the efforts that the Small Island Developing States have made since the Nassau Declaration and is delighted to obtain a final future-oriented document that will constitute a framework for balanced cooperation among the development partners of the Small Island Developing States. The decisions that will be taken here, decisions that should be focused on action, will also be an important step towards the Review Summit of the Millennium Declaration, which will enable the voice of the Small Island Developing States to be heard.

Mr Secretary-General,

Although there have been numerous changes in the past ten years, the priority sectors, those that were established at the Barbados Conference and in the Nassau Declaration, are still valid. We now also have a general framework of Millennium development objectives that take into consideration the importance of sustainable development and specific vulnerabilities. These need to be acknowledged and should be taken into account while recognising the great diversity among all the islands. The European Union considers that the Johannesburg Action Plan, the Monterrey Consensus, and especially the Millennium Declaration and the Millenium development goals make up the general framework for poverty reduction in developing countries, including the Small Island Developing States. All of these objectives are essential for resolving the problems of an increasingly interconnected world, and our meeting here in Mauritius is an important step in this direction.

The indicators of the Millennium development goals demonstrate the great differences in sustainable development of the Small Island Developing States. In addition, these small states are exposed to the risk of losing the progress made during the past decade and the progress they could make in the future.

The European Union has a long history of cooperation with a great many Small Island Developing States. These states have received a large part of the developmental aid being steadily increased by the European Union, whether through direct bilateral aid, through our multilateral aid programmes, such as within the framework of the ACP-EU Partnership Agreement with certain African, Caribbean and Pacific nations (Cotonou Agreement), or through contributions to international organisations that actively support the efforts of the Small Island Developing States. For example, the Cotonou Partnership Agreement, which came into force in 2003, emphasises the objective of reducing poverty and supporting fragile, underdeveloped economies. The EU believes that our meeting should focus on measures and programmes for increasing resilience in partnership with the vulnerable states within the context of regional cooperation.

The EU is also the largest contributor to the World Bank, to regional banks, to the Global Environmental Facility (GEF) and to international financial mechanisms, all of which support the Small Island Developing States with investments and technical and technological support.

The European Union also plays an active role within the General Assembly of the United Nations and the Sustainable Development Commission, which is charged with following up on the Johannesburg Action Plan and is therefore linked directly to the problems facing the Small Island Developing States. Poverty is accelerated by the destruction or the misuse of natural resources, which, in turn, frequently causes the accelerated unsustainable exploitation of the available resources, locking the vulnerable countries in a vicious circle.

Allow me to highlight certain priorities, which the EU feels will enable our joint efforts to bear fruit.

Climate change

Today, the impact of climate change is being felt throughout the world. The Small Island Developing States continue to be seriously affected by global climate change, to the extent that the very survival of certain low-altitude countries could be threatened in the future. For this reason, the European Union is delighted that the Kyoto Protocol will come into force on 16 February this year. The European Union regards the Small Island Developing States as important partners in promoting the agenda of international climate change. The ratification and rapid implementation of the Protocol are essential for the Small Island Developing States and for the entire international community, and for the future of our planet. In addition, with the aim of realising the ultimate goal of the Convention, the European Union emphasises the need to strengthen the international response.

Adapting to the adverse effects of climate change is a major problem for the Small Island Developing States. The European Union reaffirms that incorporating the responses to climate change into poverty reduction strategies and/or national strategies for sustainable development is the path to follow in consideration of the adaptation and mitigation of the causes of climate change. Within this context, the European Union reaffirms the need to implement the previous decisions of the Convention of the Parties to the Convention on Climate Change on supporting adaptation efforts to prevent the adverse effects of climate change. In addition, with the aim of realising the ultimate goal of the Convention, the European Union emphasises the necessity of strengthening the international response.


As the vulnerability of the Small Island Developing States has been recognised, you, Mr President, quite accurately highlighted the considerable vulnerability of the SIDS in your opening speech on Monday. The growing vulnerability of the social, economic and environmental plans requires that we collaborate efficiently to improve the resilience of each SIDS, as well as resilience at regional level.


The EU is prepared to consider the concerns linked to the trade of the SIDS and to support them in the process of integration into international trade. The European Union offers many Small Island Developing States greater access to markets within the framework of the generalised system of preferences (GSP), the Cotonou Agreement and the “Everything But Arms�? initiative. Within the context of the WTO and the Doha Development Programme, the EU supports the progress made in identifying measures that enable small, fragile economies to better integrate into the multilateral trade system without creating a new category. The European Community and its Member States are also the principle contributors to aid programmes linked to international trade.


The European Union hopes that the participants in the Mauritius Meeting will place increasing importance on national poverty reduction and sustainable development strategies and plans undertaken by the affected countries and on their own initiative. The role of the international community is to support the creation and implementation of such international strategies. The EU will not only concentrate on increasing the level of PDA, but will also ensure the promotion of increased harmonisation among donors, an improvement in the coherence of policies and follow-up based on the results of the general framework of the Millennium Development Goals, of the Johannesburg Action Plan and, obviously, the Barbados Action Plan.

At regional and national level, although some progress has been made, the European Union is firmly convinced that there is substantial scope for implementing the Barbados Action Plan, thanks to the strengthening of regional coordination and integration initiatives. In addition, regional economic cooperation could be strengthened among the neighbouring islands and with nearby large countries to help accelerate development.

Within the framework of this implementation, I would also like to emphasise the importance of the inclusion and participation of civil society.

The fight against HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis

One of the great challenges that became more important after the Barbados Conference is the burden of HIV/AIDS, but also of malaria and tuberculosis, on the people of the Small Island Developing States and on the development of those countries, some of which have been, unfortunately, seriously affected by the AIDS pandemic. We must concentrate our efforts on this problem. If we do not, then we run the risk that all the developmental progress made by these societies could be endangered by the destructive effects of the disease.

The battle against these three illnesses should be waged in an integrated, coordinated manner that spans the globe. Prevention should be promoted and access to treatment improved. If the fight against AIDS is to be successful, the national healthcare systems must be reinforced and national and international coordination improved. If we do not deal with HIV/AIDS and other deadly diseases that have disproportionately hit the developing world and a number of Small Island Developing States, all the efforts made towards attaining the Millennium Development Goals, the Johannesburg Action Plan and the Barbados Action Programme will be seriously jeopardised.


This meeting here in Mauritius is a unique opportunity for all the international partners to recognise their joint and mutual responsibility to use the resources of our planet in a sustainable manner, and, more especially, within the vulnerable states, which are the Small Island Developing States.

The European Union will continue to participate in international efforts to strengthen cooperation with the Small Island Developing States. We will continue to support the Small Island Developing States within the context of our general policies on poverty reduction and our positions on the needs of the small, fragile economies.

Thank you.

This page was last modified on : 14-01-2005

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