Press release

President Michel: AOSIS is the conscience of the climate change negotiations

November 11, 2014

“Let us be heard on every beach and every roadside. Let us be heard in Beijing, in Delhi, in Johannesburg, in London, in Moscow, in New York, in Paris, in Rio … Let us be heard in every village, in every town, in every city of the world. Let us be heard on the airwaves. Let the media disseminate our message.  Let us ensure that there is no discourse on security, on trade, on human rights, on development … unless we are also addressing climate change.”

With these words in his opening address, President James Michel opened the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) ministerial meeting on Climate Change at the Savoy Resort at Beau Vallon this morning.

President Michel said that AOSIS should not have fencesitters and instead speak together as one voice decisively and with solidarity.

“Ahead of Lima and Paris, we must also undertake a frank self-assessment.  Most of us are under-prepared for these negotiations.  We do not have armies of scientists, statisticians or economists to help us make our case. But we have something that is invaluable, something that is powerful: we are the conscience of these negotiations. We stand as the defenders of the moral rights of every citizen of our planet,” he said.

He said that AOSIS’ advocacy as the voice of 39 Small Island States has made a real impact in the world, even if too often the world has chosen to ignore its voice.

“  Too often, we remain observers in the geo-political manipulations of others.  Too often we are treated as bystanders. And more often than not, we allow ourselves to be treated as bystanders.”

The President presented four points for AOSIS to consider ahead of the Lima and Paris negotiations on climate change, firstly, that ‘adaptation is as important as mitigation’  where the Green Climate Fund (GCF) should be capitalised as a matter of urgency.

Secondly, that priority is given to those most vulnerable, especially SIDS by working towards the adoption of a vulnerability resilience index. Thirdly, making sure that action on climate change is taken in the immediate future, and fourthly that the debate on climate change is not divorced from the debate on sustainable development, whereby the priorities of SIDS are mainstreamed within the post 2015 Development Agenda.

Mr. Michel welcomed the announcement that the Maldives would chair AOSIS between 2015-2017 and that Seychelles would take up chairmanship between 2017-2019.

During the opening ceremony, a Seychellois student Ms Sonam Tsultrim read out her letter, addressed the United Nations Secretary General, Mr. Ban Ki-Moon, concerning an appeal for more action against climate change. Her letter was quoted by President Michel during his recent address in September to the Special Summit on Climate Change convened by the UN Secretary General in New York.

« We are small,  and to many we are insignificant … I am an islander and proud of it, for there is no other place I would wish to be my home … Our pleas are lost in all the noises made by the great of this world. While they count their profits, we are left unheard, forgotten … » it read.

The chair of AOSIS, the Minister for Education and Special Presidential Envoy for Climate Change of the Republic of Nauru, Mrs Charmaine Scotty also addressed the meeting this morning.

“Seychelles demonstrates that islands are leading the world by example. In addition Seychelles has been a pioneer in the area of ocean management and an outspoken advocate for the Blue Economy. Thank you for your leadership,” said Minister Scotty.

Following the opening of the ministerial meeting, President Michel and Minister Scotty met at State House, where they continued their discussions on how to ensure continuity and capacity building within AOSIS as well as forging a strong common position for future climate negotiations.

“It is all about solidarity, about AOSIS making sure that we make our mark in regards to climate change, that we make our issues known throughout the whole world, about our concerns for climate change, this immense and dangerous threat of climate change,” said Minister Scotty in an interview with local press after their meeting.

She added that at the moment in Nauru a lot of its people are really starting to understand the impact of climate change.

“Through coastal erosion along our shores, people are really starting to feel the effects of climate change…it’s really making the reality really close to us, and making sure we need to do our part and make our voices heard… particularly for us, as we only have one island.. we don’t have another one where we can ferry off to live on this island….No one wants their home to be lost forever. It’s important that the major emitters understand the danger of climate change to our security.”


Source: Statehouse Office of the President

Editor’s Note

  • Also present at the opening of the AOSIS meeting was Vice-President Danny Faure.
  • Also present in the State House meeting where Minister for Foreign Affairs Jean-Paul Adam, the President’s diplomatic adviser, Ambassador Callixte D’Offay, and the Ambassador for Climate Change and Small Island Developing State Issues, Ambassador Ronny Jumeau
  • Minister Scotty was accompanied by Ambassador Marlene Moses, Nauru’s permanent representative to the UN, and also ambassador accredited to the US, Israel, Venezuela, and Cuba.
  • The Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) is a coalition of Small Island and low-lying coastal countries that share similar development challenges and concerns about the environment, especially their vulnerability to the adverse effects of global climate change. It functions primarily as an ad hoc lobby and negotiating voice for Small Island developing States (SIDS) within the United Nations system.
  • AOSIS has a membership drawn from all oceans and regions of the world and further grouped into three sub-regions- Caribbean, Pacific and AIMS (Atlantic, Indian Ocean, Mediterranean, South China Sea).