Press release

African Islands and UNEP Hold Talks to Deepen Cooperation

January 31, 2015

“Islands cannot be ignored”, this was the message of Vice President Danny Faure when addressing a special gathering of African island states this morning.

Following the development framework adopted at the Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS) held in Samoa in 2014, the United Nations Environment Programme convened a special breakfast meeting to engage with the African islands and initiate cooperation on the specific objectives of the Samoa Pathway and the Blue Economy.

“Following the adoption of the Samoa pathway, African SIDS have become even more determined and more committed than ever to become a force for change for our people, said the Vice President,

“We are working together to create, build and develop opportunities at all levels and with all partners, especially partners who value us as much as we value them; partners like UNEP.

“We cannot afford to let the issues important to our development and very survival drop for even one moment. We may be small but we are continually demonstrating that we have a powerful and far reaching voice.”

The UNEP Executive Director and Under Secretary General, Mr Achim Steiner, who hosted the meeting, expressed his dedication to working with SIDS as they actively pursue the Blue Economy, a concept he described as a true expression of the specificities of island states.

“SIDS have been the most open and welcoming to UNEP. We want to show you we have listened to you and heard,” said Mr. Steiner.

The Executive Secretary said the organization was prepared to investigate all avenues of cooperation with a special focus on renewable energy, data collection, debt reduction ,and reducing high cost of services faced by island states.

The President’s of Cabo Verde and Comoros also spoke of their commitment to developing the Blue Economy within Africa and shared their experiences of the special vulnerability islands have when combating the challenges of climate change which has led to increase cyclone and volcanic activity in their respective regions.

The delegations of Madagascar, Mauritius and Sao Tome and Principe echoed the sentiments expressed and spoke of the demonstrated dedication of their Governments, evident through the formation of maritime and climate change focused Ministries and departments.

The breakfast meeting held at the Sheraton in Addis Ababa ahead of the opening of the 24th Ordinary Assembly of the Union Summit being held in at the African Union in Ethiopia.

Vice President Danny Faure was accompanied by outgoing Foreign Minister, Mr Jean-Paul Adam, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Amb. Barry Faure, and the Resident Ambassador of Seychelles in Ethiopia, Mr. Joseph Nourrice.