H.E. Emanuel Mori
President of the
Federated States of Micronesia
Before the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development
Rio de Janeiro, 21 June 2012
Check Against Delivery
Heads of State and Governments,
Ladies and Gentlemen;
President Dilma Rouseff, thank you for the invitation extended to my country to return to the City of Rio where, the historic "Rio Process" movement all began, twenty years ago. I also want to thank your Government and the people of Brazil for the warm welcome extended to my delegation and also want to thank the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, and the two co-chairs of the Bureau for their part in organizing this important forum.
We gather for the second time in Rio not to talk history but to make history by making things happen. This is a real opportunity for this generation of world leaders to improve upon the blueprint crafted twenty years ago. It is imperative, therefore, that we remain steadfast and take stronger measures to renew our political commitment for sustainable development in this new millennium.
I doubt there is anyone in this Hall and beyond who has not been affected, one way or another, by the events that have occurred since the "Rio Process" began twenty years ago.
For the small island developing states, central to the "Rio Process" is the real threat of sea-level rise. Disastrous meltdowns of polar ice-caps could occur within more narrow ranges of temperature change. Sea levels certainly would rise faster and to a great extent making the small island developing states like my own Micronesia become inhabitable. Time is not on the side of small island developing states. Entire cultures and generations of island people are at risk.
The Micronesian Islands are some of the smallest islands on Earth, many of which barely rise over a few feet above sea level. Some of the islands are so small. They can be crossed within 30 minutes. Our daily lives are continuously affected by our surroundings. With the increase in intensity of tropical storms we have nowhere to run. With recurring months of drought we have limited resources to survive on. The suffering that takes place would be hard to believe by those who conjure up views of Islands of Paradise on postcards.
The irony of climate change is that we have not created nor contributed to the problems which threaten our very existence. Yet, the solution lies with those, who in their efforts to protect interests of their own, chose to pollute at the expense of the most vulnerable. I must emphasize that sustainable development is meaningless if some of us disappear from the face of the Earth because we fail to heed the warnings.
Even though we are small, my country is committed to helping finding solutions. For that reason, Micronesia continues to advocate support for our amendments to the Montreal Protocol to fight climate change, thus continue to seek your support for this initiative.
In the face of credible scientific studies, developed countries have prevented progress from being achieved. Our goal to effectively address climate change has been very disappointing. From Copenhagen to the recent meeting in Bonn not much has moved. This, for our small island developing states, is sad and down-right scary.
We ask ourselves, "Why do we talk about sea- level rise and climate change at a conference on sustainable development?"
Since the industrialized revolution happened, inhabitants of the Earth were largely ignorant of the potential damage to the global environment. We know now for instance, emissions from factories and automobiles are harmful to the environment. They pollute the air we breathe, destroy the atmosphere, and contribute to global warming. We know now that the indiscriminate catches from the use of large gillnets depletes our oceans resources. They endangered certain species in the ocean. We know now that massive and major earthmoving activities on large scales for roads and housings are harmful to the eco-system.
It's high time we give genuine meaning to sustainable development by investing in real sustainable activities such as use of renewable energy, eco-tourism, oceanic resource management, and transfer of new forms of eco-friendly technology, to name a few.
For the Pacific small island countries, our combined Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ) occupies more than 30 million square kilometers, an area four times the size of this great country of Brazil. It is for this reason why we put forward the concept of a "Blue Economy." Simply put, the "Blue Economy" is the conservation and sustainable use of the Ocean Resources. The Pacific region has taken the lead in sustainable fisheries and in establishing Marine Protected Areas. We ask other regions to support and promote long-term conservation, management and sustainable use of the oceans and its resources for current and future generations.
Upholding the environmental integrity of the ocean is not enough. Partnerships to develop our own fishing and on shore facilities as well as an increased share of the benefits derived from our resources are also not only fair but necessary.
A month ago, the Barbados Declaration on Achieving Sustainable Energy for All in SIDS was adopted by the leaders of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS). Our dependency on imported fossil fuel and exposure to oil-price volatility demand that we must look for alternate source of energy. The renewable energy sector, therefore, must be a focus of development assistance if we are to achieve sustainable development. But assistance must also include capacity building, technology transfer along with the provision of affordable and appropriate technology.
Rio+20 is an important process for the small island developing states to achieve sustainable development. It should provide a mechanism to refocus attention towards a more result-oriented approach with additional measures to support the sustainable development of SIDS. The special case for SIDS based on our particular and unique vulnerabilities continues to be a challenge especially in achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). We deeply appreciate the support given to the Third Global Conference for SIDS as a mechanism that will build on the Barbados Program of Action (BPOA) and the Mauritius Strategy of Implementation (MSI).
The Pacific islands will be honored to host this important third global conference.
Let me conclude by urging all of us as leaders to support the outcome of the Rio+20 Conference with a sense of urgency. To implement Rio+20 effectively in a timely fashion, we need real commitment with actions. For an islander living in fear of disappearing beneath the mighty swells of the Pacific, this may be our only chance.