Press release

Seychelles chairs the first Commonwealth open-ended ministerial working group meeting on small states

March 26, 2014

Minister Jean-Paul Adam was elected chairman of the very first Commonwealth working ministerial group to deliberate on issues of small states in St Lucia yesterday (25 march) on the eve of the Commonwealth third biennial meeting on small states. The latter meeting is taking place over the next 2 days (26 and 27 March).

“As small states, we may always be aware of how vulnerable we are- but we are certainly not weak, and we are determined to ensure we are not marginalized. We believe that by working in partnership we can achieve the change required to better support our development. With the support of the Commonwealth we look forward to strengthening the development of a framework more conducive to the specific needs of small states- whether it be in terms of better recognition of the need to build our resilience or in terms of mitigating climate change or strengthening our ability to develop our blue economy”, Minister Adam remarked.

The working group has been constituted following a decision of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) held in Colombo last year and aims to develop pragmatic solutions from the perspective of the Commonwealth that can be taken up at the Third

International Conference on Small Island Developing States to be held in Apia, Samoa as well as ongoing discussions on the post 2015 development agenda.

The open-ended working group has agreed to four priority areas that will constitute key messages for the group to take forward in the upcoming international discussions of the post 2015 development agenda and the third conference on small island developing states (SIDS) to take place in Samoa this year in September.

There was overall agreement to ensure that resilience and vulnerability of small states be firmly placed on the top of the development agenda.

The working group emphasized the need for the multilateral International Financing Institutions to recognize the vulnerabilities of small states and use assessments of this vulnerability as a criterion to drive development assistance.

With The building of resilience as the overarching framework, the group flagged the four key intervention areas as being 1) transforming the framework to build resilience in small states by addressing fundamental vulnerability, adapting preferential trade mechanisms and adopting innovative instruments to tackle core issues such as debt 2) empower small states against climate change by facilitating access to adaptation funding and investing in sustainable energy,  3) strengthening the framework for ocean governance to allow small states to better harness the blue economy and 4) mobilize global partnerships to support small states including through the strengthening of relevant regional initiatives.

The group has defined their terms of reference and work modalities for the period March 2014 to September 2015.

The meeting was facilitated by the Commonwealth Secretary General (Mr. Kamalesh Sharma, Deputy SG (Mr. Deodat Maharaj) and the Director of economic affairs (Mr. Cyrus Rustomjee). Ministers and senior officials from Jamaica, Maldives, Malta, Lesotho, Samoa, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Namibia, and Sri Lanka are also part of the working group.

The next meeting of this group is planned for June 2014 on the margins of the final preparatory conference for SIDS to be held in New York.