Samoa all set to welcome SIDS delegates

24/08/2014

Delegates from nearly 200 nations will descend on Samoa beginning this week to attend the third United Nations Small Islands Developing States (UN-SIDS) to be held in Apia between September 1 and 4. <!--more-->Previous SIDS events have been held in Barbados and Mauritius. The UN has named 2014 the Year of SIDS.

More than a dozen presidents and heads of states, hundreds of elected representatives, private sector executives, NGOs, heads of international organisations, will comprise the 3000 visitors expected. Many of the UN’s development agencies as well as Secretary General Ban Ki Moon will attend the conference, which has some 108 side-events before, during and after the conference.

Samoa is one of 20 Pacific SIDS out of 52 around the world. SIDS come from three geographic regions – the Caribbean; the Africa, Indian Ocean, Mediterranean and South China Sea (AIMS); and the Pacific. SIDS account for about five per cent of the world’s population.

SIDS share similar sustainable development challenges like small populations, resource constraints, remoteness, susceptibility to natural disasters, vulnerability to external shocks and high dependence on international trade. High transportation and communication costs, expensive public administration and infrastructure and few opportunities to create economies of scale are some other challenges.

Samoa has chosen ‘Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States through genuine and durable partnerships’ as the main theme for the conference. It has also identified the following six, which would broadly concern almost all SIDS members: Climate change (adaptation and mitigation); Oceans and forests; Enhancing SIDS resilience; Disaster risk reduction; Renewable Energy; Post-LDC graduation.

Samoa has worked hard for more than a year in preparations for hosting this large event. Village communities around the country have been engaged in gardening, landscaping, sprucing up and beautification, painting fences and cleaning up. Even the school holidays have been rescheduled to free up roads during the conference.

The time of the conference coincides with the Samoa’s annual Teuila festival, which in itself is a major draw for tourists. To accommodate this greatly enlarged influx, a cruise ship has been requisitioned because total visitor numbers next week will far exceed the number of available hotel rooms in the country. Food, arts, crafts, culture, performances, competitions, sporting events, business expos and meetings will all be a part of the mix for visitors to participate in.