Press release


July 7, 2011

President James Michel has called on Small Island Developing States (SIDS) to take on the responsibility of becoming ‘the guardians of sustainability of our planet’ and to reclaim the concept of sustainability in the modern world order.

“Islands are more vulnerable and more threatened today than they have ever been in their history.  We all know that for islands, the spectre of climate change is existential.  Even those that will not be completely engulfed by sea level-rise will see their productive capacity which relies on tourism and fisheries, seriously compromised. And if the human race allows even one of our islands to be engulfed by the sea, we will have to say that ‘sustainable development’ is just a myth.  Let us make no mistake, unfortunately the world is already on that path. As islands, we must use Rio+20 to claim back the concept of sustainable development,” said President Michel.

President James Michel was speaking at the opening of the second SIDS sub-regional preparatory meeting for countries in the Atlantic, Indian Ocean, Mediterranean and South China Seas  (AIMS) for next year’s United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

The opening  was attended by the Maldivian Foreign Affairs Minister Aslam Mohamed Shakir, and the Chief of Small Island Developing States Unit of the  United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Ms. Hiroko Morita-Lou.

President Michel spoke of the way that SIDS are marginalised within global data collection, funding mechanisms, climate change adaptation funds, infrastructure development, as well as the vulnerability experienced by SIDS to fluctuations in commodity prices and environmental disasters.

The President stated that he refuses to let the development of the Seychellois people to be marginalised and that “to marginalise us, is to marginalise the very concept of sustainability itself,” adding that he would never give up in the fight for island states to be recognised as unique cases for sustainable development.

“We must continue to fight for a specific category for the development of SIDS which recognises our specificities.  We must show that we can invest small amounts to bring about big results.  And we must reiterate to our partners not to punish those that have been the most successful. We must also try and improve our productive and innovative capacities. The Green Economy offers us opportunities to do so.  At the same time, the SIDS have repeatedly and loudly called, especially at the United Nations in New York, for the oceans-based Blue Economy to be an integral part of the concept, definition and development of the Green Economy.”

The conference will deliberate on topics for the overall preparatory process for the Rio + 20 Conference, the two themes of the Conference are “Green Economy in the Context of Sustainable Development and Poverty Eradication, and “Institutional Framework for Sustainable Development,” as well as a “Blue Economy” sub-theme.

Editors’ Note

  • The meeting will be chaired by the Minister for Home Affairs, Environment, Transport and Energy, Joel Morgan, and will feature a presentation from the Minister of Foreign Affairs,  Jean Paul Adam, on regional schemes to address SIDS vulnerabilities, and high-level discussions on the importance of raising the profile of blue economy and oceans issues in the Rio+20 process, of examining the appropriate path for ensuring a strong oceans outcome at UNCSD, and of galvanizing momentum to secure renewed political commitment for this purpose.
  • The AIMS meeting is the second of three Rio+20 sub-regional preparatory meetings, the first having taken place in Guyana on 20 June, and the third scheduled in Samoa on 22 July 2011.
  • Participants include representatives from Governments in the AIMS region, the Indian Ocean Commission, UN system organizations, Commonwealth Secretariat and Major Groups.
  • The outcomes of these meetings will feed into the Regional PrepComs for Latin America and the Caribbean, which will take place in Chile on 7-9 September, and for Asia and the Pacific, which will in the Republic of Korea on 19-20 October, as well as into the SIDS inter-regional preparatory meeting, which will take place in New York on 23 September.
  • Rio +20 refers to the summit which will be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil next year (, 20 years after the first UN Summit on Environment and Development held in Rio in June 1992, also known as the ‘Earth Summit’ or ‘Rio Summit.’ The first summit resulted with the agreement for the following documents: Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, Agenda 21, the Convention on Biological Diversity, the Forest Principles and the Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).