UNESCO and the Alliance of Small Island States are working together towards Rio+20
On Friday, 23 September 2011, UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova met for a working breakfast with Ambassador Dessima Williams, Permanent Representative of Grenada to the United Nations and Chair of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) and with Mr Omar Ramirez, Executive Vice-president of the Office of Climate Change and Clean Development Mechanism of the Dominican Republic. The meeting was also attended by Technical Officers from AOSIS, Grenada, Dominican Republic and UNESCO.
The Director-General summarized the discussions of the Thematic Debate on Small Island Developing States (SIDS), held at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris on 14 September 2011. She highlighted UNESCO’s key on-going and planned activities of particular relevance for SIDS in the areas of climate change, oceans, tangible and intangible cultural heritage, traditional knowledge, youth, ICTs and gender. Irina Bokova underscored the opportunity given by the forthcoming Rio+20 Conference to improve the use of knowledge and to strengthen collaboration and coordination in support of sustainable development in SIDS – notably, with regards to oceans, which are so critical for SIDS well-being.
Ambassador Williams and Mr Ramirez welcomed UNESCO's action in support of the implementation of the Barbados Plan of Action and the Mauritius Strategy. They expressed their high appreciation for the series of critical meetings on climate change recently convened by UNESCO -- namely the high-level meeting held in March 2011 in Saint Kitts and Nevis focusing on science, ethics and climate change adaptation in the Caribbean; the regional workshop on Climate Change Education for Sustainable Development in the Caribbean held in June 2011 in the British Virgin Islands; and the SIDS interregional experts’ meeting on climate change education SIDS held in the Bahamas in September 2011.
Mr Ramirez highlighted UNESCO's collaboration with the Dominican Republic and other partners in compiling experiences in education, training and public awareness for the Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk Reduction in Latin America and the Caribbean. He noted that this supports the implementation of Article 6 of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which addresses the issue of climate change related education, training and public awareness.
Finally, Ms Williams and Mr Ramirez emphasized the relevance of UNESCO's activities in relation to SIDS and raised the need to increase their visibility, especially with a view to the forthcoming Rio+20 Conference. In this regard, it was agreed that UNESCO will produce and share with AOSIS an information document outlining all UNESCO's SIDS related activities to be used as the basis for development of a joint programme between UNESCO and AOSIS. This exercise shall be in line with UNESCO's strategic planning, with particular focus on scaling up good practices in the areas of water, oceans and coastal management in view of climate change; education; and cultural heritage.