The influential negotiating bloc of small island developing States will now be headed by a Pacific country, commemorated during the official handover from the outgoing Chair, Antigua and Barbuda.
At a special Plenary meeting on Monday 30th January 2023 featuring the official handover ceremony, the reigns of leadership of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) were handed over by the Caribbean island of Antigua and Barbuda, to the Pacific Island of Samoa. This culminates four years of AOSIS Chairmanship within the Caribbean region, with Belize serving prior to Antigua. The regional rotation of Chairmanship ensures fully inclusive representation among all Caribbean, Pacific, African, Indian Ocean and South China Seas members.
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 Twenty-Seventh Conference of the Parties (COP27) to the UN Framework to the Convention on Climate Change in November 2022.
As the new Chair, Samoa Prime Minister Fiamē Naomi Mataʻafa vowed to continue the excellent work of the previous Chairs, particularly by amplifying marginalised voices and advocating for the Alliance’s interests on the global stage and to secure global commitments and agreement. She outlined the Chair’s new vision, which will focus on Climate Change, Sustainable Development, and the Ocean, including issues such as food security, energy, ocean’s health, 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,” Prime Minister Fiamē said. “We will continue to keep the Loss and Damage flame burning and inject urgency into our efforts aimed at concluding the BBNJ (Marine Biodiversity of Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction) negotiations.”
“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. The MVI is a tool to assist Small Islands Developing States in addressing the economic recovery challenge, especially in relation to access to concessional financing, debt regime sustainability and Official 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.”
“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.” Prime Minister Fiamē highlighted the ocean-climate nexus, plastic pollution negotiations, the Blue Economy, and the Global Biodiversity Framework as key issues.
In his congratulatory address, Prime Minister the Honourable Gaston Browne of Antigua and Barbuda noted he was placing the Chairmanship in the most capable hands, and that his country looked forward to working with the new AOSIS Chair in preparation for the 4th UN International Conference for SIDS in 2024.
Representing the Prime Minister, Ambassador Fatumanava-o-Upolu III Dr. Pa’olelei Luteru emphasised that the AOSIS Chair would accelerate advocacy for concrete outcomes to ensure the survival, and the prosperity of small island developing States.
The Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) congratulates Samoa on its role as the AOSIS Chair and pledges support to Samoa during its leadership of AOSIS. SPREP looks forward to continue working with the influential group to address priority climate change resilience, and environmental and sustainable development issues for our Pacific islands.
“We value our relationship with AOSIS, we are stronger together. We stand ready to support Samoa as it fulfills this role on behalf of our Pacific Islands Members. We will build on the strong partnership we have built with Samoa during its leadership of Pacific Small Island Developing States,” said Sefanaia Nawadra Director General of SPREP.