As we prepare for the festivities ushering in the New Year, it is a fitting occasion to celebrate the accomplishments that AOSIS has achieved under the leadership of the Maldives.
We saw the launch of the S.A.M.O.A. Pathway in 2015 and the SIDS Partnership Framework. More recently, we prepared ourselves thoroughly for the 2019 Mid-term Review with a successful inter-regional preparatory meeting in Samoa with an outcome that reflects the priorities of the three SIDS regions – AIS, the Pacific and the Caribbean.
In 2015, we welcomed the adoption of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, all of which maintain as a core operational principle the special circumstances of SIDS.
In 2016, with the overwhelming support of AOSIS Member States, the Paris Agreement entered into force and no sooner had it entered into force, was AOSIS then working assiduously with Maldives at the helm ensuring that we would be able to adopt modalities, procedures and guidelines for the operationalization of the Paris Agreement at this year’s COP. While many lament that we could not have a more robust Paris rule book, we got the job done and now it is our task to implement with a view to its continuous improvement.
It is against this background that Belize now prepares to undertake the role of the Chairmanship of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) for the period 2019 to 2020. It is with great pride that we make this undertaking as the first low lying coastal continental state.
During the period of Belize’s tenure as AOSIS Chair, Belize will support AOSIS to achieve the highest order of support for the priorities of small island developing states (SIDS). In this regard, Belize, in consultation with the AOSIS Bureau and with the support of the membership will aim to launch a forward-looking AOSIS Agenda and a robust ‘partnerships for action’ initiative to address SIDS financing constraints and needs.
Overview of the AOSIS Chairmanship
The first year of Belize’s Chairmanship will be a headline year for AOSIS: AOSIS will mark its thirtieth anniversary in 2019 as the United Nations prepares to review the S.A.M.O.A. Pathway and its Partnership Framework. The review will coincide with the end of the first four-year cycle of the high level political forum which serves as the principal forum for the monitoring of the SIDS agenda. It will also coincide with the convening of the Secretary General’s Climate Summit. Each of these occasions presents an opportunity for reinforcing international political solidarity for SIDS as a special case for sustainable development and targeted new initiatives for SIDS.
Belize views 2019-2020 as a critical period for ramping up ambition on climate action. Therefore as Chair, Belize will lead the group to be at the forefront of a drive for greater climate ambition. AOSIS will need to be persistent in advocating for drastic reductions in greenhouse gas emissions in pursuit of the objectives of the Paris Agreement and to safeguard the larger sustainable development agenda. At the same time, in order to address SIDS needs for adaptation and to make progress on mainstreaming loss and damage throughout the climate change agenda, AOSIS will need to exhaust every effort to ensure that international cooperation and financing are specifically targeted to SIDS. These are key priority issues for AOSIS and Belize is committed to strengthen AOSIS advocacy and engagement in multilateral decision making processes especially in relation to them.
Oceans governance is a matter of high priority for the SIDS. AOSIS has already demonstrated leadership in advancing discussions on marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction in the context of the recently launched intergovernmental conference (BBNJ IGC). With your support and cooperation, Belize will continue that leadership to ensure that the SIDS concerns particularly with regard to equitable use, capacity building, and technology transfer are reflected in the IGC draft treaty.
Belize will, in addition to these initiatives, continue to pursue ongoing training programmes including the AOSIS fellowship programme which has a proven track record for excellence.
Belize will also ensure SIDS’s effective participation in the development of any new international instrument such as the Global Pact for the Environment, as well as ensure integration of the special case for SIDS therein.
Leading by Example
Belize has long been an active participant in AOSIS including its Bureau and has willingly offered its expertise to lead critical negotiations. We want to continue having this Bureau involvement and together look to enhance the AOSIS capacity to identify emerging issues, design innovative SIDS solutions and build bridges and strategic alliances. We want AOSIS to continue to operate with utmost transparency inclusivity and accountability.
For Belize, a strategic and inclusive leadership shall define the Chairmanship and drive the work of AOSIS for 2019-2020. In this way, we will ensure a solid foundation for further advancing the group’s objectives beyond Belize’s Chairmanship.
I am pleased to share with you an outline of our vision. In addition, I wish to share that Belize will endeavour and an indicative calendar of meetings.
Belize looks forward to working with you all and to your continued support.