Tuesday, September 30, 2014

We throw out more food than plastic, paper, metal, and glass

The much-anticipated U.N. Climate Summit, which began a few days ago in New York, and was ostensibly a platform for world leaders to leap frog debates over whether climate change is real, and skip straight to discussions centered around how to overcome the challenges it poses.

But it’s also an impetus for those beyond the sessions’ panels to illuminate troubling patterns of behavior that are contributing to our collective carbon footprint—and food waste is without question one of the most egregious, especially in the United States.

In 2012, the most recent year for which estimates are available, Americans threw out roughly 35 million tons of food, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. That’s almost 20 percent more food than the United States tossed out in 2000, 50 percent more than in 1990, and nearly three times what Americans discarded in 1960, when the country threw out a now seemingly paltry 12.2 million tons.

“Food waste is an incredible and absurd issue for the world today,” Jose Lopez, Nestle’s head of operations said of the issue earlier this month.

Take as percentages, not tonnage.

Roughly a third of the food produced worldwide never gets eaten. The problem is particularly egregious in developed countries, where food is seen as being more expendable than it is elsewhere. “Every year, consumers in rich countries waste almost as much food (222 million tonnes) as the entire net food production of sub-Saharan Africa (230 million tonnes),” the U.N. notes on its website.

This country is one of the worst offenders: a 2012 paper by the Natural Resources Defense Council estimated that as much as 40 percent of America’s food supply ends up in a dumpster.

The most obvious problem with this waste is that while Americans are throwing out their food, an estimated one in every nine people in the world still suffers from chronic hunger—that is, insufficient food—including more than 200 million in Sub-Saharan Africa and more than 500 million Asia. Even in the United States, where that number is significantly lower, some 14 percent of U.S. households still struggled to put food on the table for a portion of last year, according to the USDA.

The level of food waste suggests that curbing hunger isn’t a matter of producing more food so much as better preserving and distributing the food currently being produced. As the United Nations noted in its report on world hunger last week, there is actually enough food to feed all seven billion people living in the world today.

But there’s another less apparent problem with food waste: the threat to the environment. Landfills full of decomposing food release methane, which is said to be at least 20 times more lethal a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. And America’s landfills are full of food—organic waste is the second largest contributor to the country’s landfills. Those same landfills are the single largest producer of methane emissions in the United States—they produce almost a quarter of the country’s total methane emissions, according to the NRDC.

The environmental cost of food waste goes further than just methane emissions. Producing food is a costly affair for the environment—an estimated one third of global carbon emissions come from agriculture—but it’s one society pays to feed itself.

The price for producing food that never ends up in someone’s mouth is much more—it includes both the resources and environmental decay sacrificed for its making. The livestock industry contributes more than 15 percent of global carbon emissions, according to the U.N, which means that when Americans throw out meat, they are wasting some of the most environmentally costly food available. More

Given all the discussions concerning the creation of a new landfill here in the Cayman Islands, here a link to creating healthy soil using composted food scraps and hervested water, and helping to reduce waste going to the dump.

Read about what how you can build better soil with all that food "waste" in the WMG's Soil Resource Guide: Here or here from the Watershed Management group's site here


UN:Rapid mangrove loss costing $ billions

(CNS): The world is losing its mangroves at a faster rate than global deforestation, the United Nations has revealed in a new report which points to billions of dollars in economic damage impacting millions of lives.

Mangrove Destruction in Cancun

The destruction of the coastal habitats is said to now be three to five times faster than global forest loss resulting in $42 billion losses annually and exposing ecosystems and coastal habitats to an increased risk of devastation from climate change. The report was launched Monday at the 16th Global Meeting of the Regional Seas Conventions and Action Plans, held in Athens, Greece, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) warned of the far reaching implications of the habitat loss. Although a global phenomenon the Cayman Islands has seen miles of costal mangrove sacrificed in the name of development in recent years

“The escalating destruction and degradation of mangroves – driven by land conversion for aquaculture and agriculture, coastal development, and pollution – is occurring at an alarming rate,” said UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner who added that over a quarter of the earth’s original mangrove cover has gone.“This has potentially devastating effects on biodiversity, food security and the livelihoods of some of the most marginalized coastal communities in developing countries, where more than 90 per cent of the world’s mangroves are found,” he added.Steiner said mangroves – which are found in 123 countries around the world – provide ecosystem services worth up to $57,000 per hectare per year, storing carbon that would otherwise be released into the atmosphere and providing the over 100 million people who live in their vicinity with a variety of goods and services such as fisheries and forest products, clean water and protection against erosion and extreme weather events. He stressed that their continued destruction “makes neither ecological nor economic sense.”As well as the economic problems posed by mangrove deforestation, the report, entitled The Importance of Mangroves: A Call to Action, also cautions that a continued reduction in the surface area of mangrove forests would inevitably expose coastal environments to the harmful effects of climate change.In the Caribbean, mangrove-lined “hurricane holes” have functioned for centuries as safe-havens for boaters needing to ride out storms. The complex network of mangrove roots can also help reduce wave energy, limit erosion and form a critical barrier to the dangers posed by the strengthening tropical storms, cyclones and tsunamis which have been assailing coastal communities in recent years due to climate change.In order to safeguard what UNEP calls “one of the most threatened ecosystems on the planet,” the report outlines a number of financial mechanisms and incentives designed to stimulate conservation, including the creation of a Global Mangrove Fund, encouraging mangrove conservation and restoration through carbon credit markets, and promoting economic incentives as a source of local income from mangrove protection, sustainable use, and restoration activities.Steiner said it was important to spell out the need to preserve mangroves in real terms, underlining the economic impact their destruction has on the local and global communities.“By quantifying in economic terms the value of the ecosystem services provided by mangroves as well as the critical role they play in global climate regulation, the report aims to encourage policymakers to use the tools and guidelines outlined to better ensure the conservation and sustainable management of mangroves.” More


Monday, September 29, 2014

Explaining Extreme Events of 2013

A report released today investigates the causes of a wide variety of extreme weather and climate events from around the world in 2013. Published by the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, "Explaining Extreme Events of 2013 from a Climate Perspective (link is external)" addresses the causes of 16 individual extreme events that occurred on four continents in 2013. NOAA scientists served as three of the four lead editors on the report.

Of the five heat waves studied in the report, human-caused climate change was found to have clearly increased the severity and likelihood of those events. On the other hand, for other events examined like droughts, heavy rain events, and storms, fingerprinting the influence of human activity was more challenging. Human influence on these kinds of events—primarily through the burning of fossil fuels—was sometimes evident, but often less clear, suggesting natural factors played a far more dominant role.

"This annual report contributes to a growing field of science which helps communities, businesses and nations alike understand the impacts of natural and human-caused climate change," said Thomas R. Karl, L.H.D., director of NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center. "The science remains challenging, but the environmental intelligence it yields to decision makers is invaluable and the demand is ever-growing."

Confidence in the role of climate change about any one event is increased when multiple groups using independent methods come to similar conclusions. For example, in this report, five independent research teams looked at specific factors related to the record heat in Australia in 2013. Each consistently found that human-caused climate change increased the likelihood and severity of that event. However, for the California drought, which was investigated by three teams from the United States, human factors were found not to have influenced the lack of rainfall. One team found evidence that atmospheric pressure patterns increased due to human causes, but the influence on the California drought remains uncertain.

When human influence for an event cannot be conclusively identified with the scientific tools available today, this means that if there is a human contribution, it cannot be distinguished from natural climate variability.

"There is great scientific value in having multiple studies analyze the same extreme event to determine the underlying factors that may have influenced it," said Stephanie C. Herring, PhD, lead editor for the report at NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center. "Results from this report not only add to our body of knowledge about what drives extreme events, but what the odds are of these events happening again—and to what severity."

The report was edited by Herring, along with Martin P. Hoerling, NOAA’s Earth System Research Laboratory; Thomas Peterson, NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center, and Peter A. Stott, UK Met Office Hadley Centre and written by 92 scientists from 14 countries. View the full report online (link is external).

Also, view the slides for the media briefing on the "Explaining Extreme Events of 2013 from a Climate Perspective" report. More


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner speaking to the UN Climate Summit


Marshallese poet Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner speaking at the UN Climate Leaders Summit in 2014

Published on Sep 23, 201 4 • Marshallese poet Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner speaks on behalf of civil society during the opening ceremony of the UN Climate Leaders Summit in New York City. Check out this high-quality version of Kathy's poem with footage of climate action around the world: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DJuRjy9k7GA

Kathy performed a new poem entitled "Dear Matafele Peinem", written to her daughter. The poem received a standing ovation. Kathy is also a teacher, Journalist and founder of the environmental NGO, Jo-Jikum.

Commentary: Christopher Jorebon Loeak - President of the Republic of the Marshall Islands


This is the transcript of a video "address to the world" released by President Loeak on 18 September 2014 ahead of the UN Secretary-General's Climate Summit. The full video can be viewed here.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i8t7ElMPS_8

Out here in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, climate change has arrived.

In the last year alone, my country has suffered through unprecedented droughts in the north, and the biggest ever king tides in the south; and we have watched the most devastating typhoons in history leave a trail of death and destruction across the region.

Lying just two meters above sea level, my atoll nation stands at the frontline in the battle against climate change. The beaches of Buoj where I use to fish as a boy are already under water, and the fresh water we need to grow our food gets saltier every day. As scientists had predicted, some of our islands have already completely disappeared, gone forever under the ever-rising waves. For the Marshall Islands and our friends in the Pacific, this is already a full-blown climate emergency.

Some tell us that we should begin planning to leave. But how can we? And why should we? These islands are our home. They hold our history, our heritage and our hopes for the future. Are the world's polluters asking us to give up our language, our culture, and our national identity? We are not prepared to do that - we will stay and fight. If the water comes, it comes.

Brick by brick, I built the seawall behind me with my own hands. But even this is barely enough to protect my family from the encroaching waves. Last year, after returning from a visit to the United Nations in New York, I was so shocked by the damage from the rising tides that I added another foot of bricks to the wall.

In the Marshall Islands we have a saying - "Wa kuk wa jimer". It means that we are all in the same boat together. What is happening here is a mere preview of the havoc that awaits if we continue with our polluting ways. If my country goes, others will surely follow. We are the canary in the coalmine.

The climate crisis is forcing us to take matters into our own hands, both at home and on the international stage. Last year the Marshall Islands hosted the largest-ever Pacific Islands Forum Leaders' meeting in Majuro and it remains one of the proudest moments of my Presidency.

The big outcome was the Majuro Declaration for Climate Leadership, a powerful message from the world's most vulnerable countries to the big emitters that surround us that the time for talk is over, and the time for action is now. Our efforts had an impact with the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Mexico and Japan all committing to be climate leaders, and to do more to tackle climate change. At this time last year, I presented the Declaration to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, and promised to bring the spirit of Majuro to his Climate Change Leaders' Summit in New York, which is now less than a week away.

The Summit comes not a moment too soon. It is the first gathering of world leaders on climate change in nearly five years, and just over a year before our deadline to sign a new global treaty on climate change in Paris at the end of 2015.

Paris cannot be another Copenhagen. The world has changed too much. The science is more alarming, the impacts more severe, the economics more compelling, and the politics more potent. Even the world's two biggest polluters - China and the United States - are working together to find a pathway to a new global agreement.

But there are still some that seek to slow us down.

To my fellow world leaders I say "next week's Summit is a chance for all of us to be the leaders we were elected to be". We must send a strong and united message to the world - and to the people that we represent - that we are ready to do a deal next year. And to avoid the worst impacts of a warmer world, this new deal must capture a vision for a carbon-free world by the middle of the century. Without it, no seawall will be high enough to save my country. Together, we must find the courage to rise to this challenge. It is time to build the greatest climate change alliance the world has ever seen.

My people are counting on it, as is all of humanity.

Christopher J. Loeak is the President of the Republic of the Marshall Islands


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Why Greenland’s “Dark Snow” Should Worry You

Jason Box's research into Greenland's dark snow raises more concerns about climate change.

Jason Box knows ice. That’s why what’s happened this year concerns him so much. Box just returned from a trip to Greenland. Right now, the ice there is … black:

The ice in Greenland this year isn’t just a little dark—it’s record-setting dark. Box says he’s never seen anything like it. I spoke to Box by phone earlier this month, just days after he returned from his summer field research campaign.

"I was just stunned, really," Box told me.

The photos he took this summer in Greenland are frightening. But their implications are even more so. Just like black cars are hotter to the touch than white ones on sunny summer days, dark ice melts much more quickly.

As a member of the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland, Box travels to Greenland from his home in Copenhagen to track down the source of the soot that’s speeding up the glaciers’ disappearance. He aptly calls his crowdfunded scientific survey Dark Snow.

There are several potential explanations for what’s going on here. The most likely is that some combination of increasingly infrequent summer snowstorms, wind-blown dust, microbial activity, and forest fire soot led to this year’s exceptionally dark ice. A more ominous possibility is that what we’re seeing is the start of a cascading feedback loop tied to global warming. Box mentions this summer’s mysterious Siberian holes and offshore methane bubbles as evidence that the Arctic can quickly change in unpredictable ways.

This year, Greenland’s ice sheet was the darkest Box (or anyone else) has ever measured. Box gives the stunning stats: "In 2014 the ice sheet is precisely 5.6 percent darker, producing an additional absorption of energy equivalent with roughly twice the US annual electricity consumption."

Perhaps coincidentally, 2014 will also be the year with the highest number of forest fires ever measured in Arctic.

Box ran these numbers exclusively for Slate, and what he found shocked him. Since comprehensive satellite measurements began in 2000, never before have Arctic wildfires been as powerful as this year. In fact, over the last two or three years, Box calculated that Arctic fires have been burning at a rate that’s double that of just a decade ago. Box felt this finding was so important that he didn’t want to wait for peer review, and instead decided to publish first on Slate. He’s planning on submitting these and other recent findings to a formal scientific journal later this year.

Box’s findings are in line with recent research that shows the Arctic is in the midst of dramatic change.

A recent study has found that, as the Arctic warms, forests there are turning to flame at rates unprecedented in the last 10,000 years. This year, those fires produced volumes of smoke and soot that Box says drifted over to Greenland.

In total, more than 3.3 million hectares burned in Canada’s Northwest Territories alone this year—nearly 9 times the long term average—resulting in a charred area bigger than the states of Connecticut and Massachusetts combined. That figure includes the massive Birch Creek Complex, which could end up being the biggest wildfire in modern Canadian history. In July, it spread a smoke plume all the way to Portugal.

In an interview with Canada’s National Post earlier this year, NASA scientist Douglas Morton said, "It’s a major event in the life of the earth system to have a huge set of fires like what you are seeing in Western Canada."

Box says the real challenge is to rank what fraction of the soot he finds on the Greenland ice is from forest fires, and what is from other sources, like factories. Box says the decline of snow cover in other parts of the Arctic (like Canada) is also exposing more dirt to the air, which can then be more easily transported by the wind. Regardless of their ultimate darkening effect on Greenland, this year’s vast Arctic fires have become a major new source of greenhouse gas emissions from the thawing Arctic. Last year, NASA scientists found "amazing" levels of carbon dioxide and methane emanating from Alaskan permafrost.

Earlier this year, Box made headlines for a strongly worded statement along these lines:

That tweet landed Box in a bit of hot water with his department, which he said now has to approve his media appearances. Still, Box’s sentiment is inspiring millions. His "f’d" quote is serving as the centerpiece of a massive petition (with nearly 2 million signatures at last count) that the activist organization Avaaz will deliver to "national, local, and international leaders" at this month’s global warming rally in New York City on Sept. 21. More





Tuesday, September 9, 2014

ECLAC, CARICOM Highlight Vulnerabilities, Opportunities in Caribbean SIDS

3 September 2014: During a side event at the Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS), representatives of Caribbean SIDS and the UN discussed critical factors that underpin the vulnerability of Caribbean SIDS.

‘The vulnerability of Caribbean SIDS revisited - it's all about size' took place in Apia, Samoa, on 3 September 2014, and was organized by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) in collaboration with the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat.

Speakers discussed trade and finance, governance and institutional capacity, disaster management, regional integration and opportunities arising from the small size of SIDS, as well as the fact that the majority of Caribbean SIDS are classified as middle-income countries, based on gross domestic product (GDP).

Raúl García-Buchaca, ECLAC, said middle-income status based on GDP fails to consider inequalities at the national level. John Ashe, President of the UN General Assembly (UNGA), focused on the particular vulnerabilities of Caribbean SIDS, and suggested mainstreaming them into the post-2015 development agenda. Winston Dookeran, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Trinidad and Tobago, called for working with development partners and international financial institutions to build buffers to external shocks, and declared that “Size may well be an opportunity rather than a limitation.”

Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Guyana, said the Caribbean would require over 7% growth to be sustainable, and mentioned the challenge in diversifying Caribbean economies within the new global economic order. Camillo Gonsalves, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, said that because of their small GDP, SIDS are unable to finance adaptation and recovery from natural disasters, and recommended regional integration, development financing, preferential trade, and debt relief and restructuring to assist in this regard.

Participants also introduced a vulnerability-resilience profile for arriving at an index, said the SIDS resilience fund could be a good measure in this regard, and underscored that the human capital must be recognized, public policy revolutionized, and political structure transformed. [ECLAC Press Release] [Statement of UNGA President] More


Monday, September 8, 2014

IISDRS Summary & Analysis from the SIDS Conference Islands2014

Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS) - ‘The Sustainable Development of SIDS Through Genuine and Durable Partnerships’

1-4 September 2014 | Apia, Samoa



The Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS) took place from 1-4 September 2014 in Apia, Samoa, on the theme of ‘The Sustainable Development of SIDS Through Genuine and Durable Partnerships.’ In parallel with plenary discussions, six multi-stakeholder Partnership Dialogues took place on the themes of: sustainable economic development; climate change and disaster risk management (DRM); social development, health and non-communicable diseases (NCDs), youth and women; sustainable energy; oceans, seas and biodiversity; and water and sanitation, food security and waste management. Many countries and organizations announced new pledges and partnerships. Forums organized by youth, Major Groups and other Stakeholders, the renewable energy sector and the private sector took place prior to the conference.


Twenty-one heads of state and government and 3,500 delegates attended the conference, including representatives from government, the private sector and civil society. Alongside the formal proceedings, many side events took place on issues of importance to SIDS, such as graduation from least developed country (LDC) status, concessional financing, scientific monitoring and assessment, and resilience building. The conference was also an occasion to highlight the cultural traditions of the host country, Samoa, and other island nations, with daily displays of traditional dance, textiles, woodcarving and other crafts in the ‘SIDS Village’ located at the conference venue.


The Third International Conference on SIDS produced an outcome document, titled ‘SIDS Accelerated Modalities of Action (SAMOA) Pathway.’ The document was negotiated during the preparatory process at UN Headquarters in New York and was adopted without further discussion during the closing plenary on Thursday, 4 September 2014.


The Summary of this meeting is now available in PDF format at http://www.iisd.ca/download/pdf/enb0857e.pdf and in HTML format at


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Ua fetaui lelei fola o le ’alia.

- When the Planks of the Voyaging Canoe Fit Together Well, Great Feats Are Possible.


At the Third UN Conference on Small Island Developing States, diverse actors from SIDS, the developed and the developing world, civil society and the private sector came together, realizing that only in partnership could they hope to guide the world clear of threats and bring it closer to solutions and fulfilled commitments. Hosted by Samoa, the conference allowed SIDS to steer their partners out of a sea of inaction, by focusing on new partnerships to fulfill commitments made to them over the past twenty years.


In the middle a hectic calendar and flurry of UN activities, delegates met in the South Pacific at the largest global meeting ever held in this part of the world. Delegates flew long hours across the Pacific Ocean to reach Samoa, and found themselves simultaneously journeying the distance to a greater understanding of island communities. As participants remarked time and time again, the Samoan people and government put on an impressive and impeccable show; every colorful detail was carried out with care. Samoa and its island neighbors showcased their unique cultures, histories and abilities, from the hopeful melody of the conference theme song and artistic talents of Samoan youth on display, to the arrival of the traditional Hōkūle’a and Hikianalia Polynesian voyaging canoes that sailed all the way from Hawai’i. But alongside their unique cultures, SIDS were also determined that their opinions and calls to action should be heard and experienced.


This brief analysis explores how SIDS seized the opportunities of the Samoa conference to forge new partnerships, and the challenges they face in attempting to navigate their way on the global journey ahead.


Taliu a e popoʻe.

- One Who Is Afraid at Sea Bails Out the Canoe


Twenty years ago in Barbados, and eleven years later in Mauritius, SIDS captured attention when the international community recognized that a holistic vision of sustainable development was needed to counter threats to SIDS’ very existence and wellbeing. At both of these conferences, Member States realized that courage and cooperation was needed to build up, rather than bail out, the SIDS canoe of prosperity.


However, SIDS came to Samoa focused on their vital, though different, needs for sustainable development. With dire health issues, especially non-communicable diseases, depleting fish stocks and deteriorating ocean conditions, lack of access to assistance due to graduation from LDC status, and high levels of unemployment and national debt, SIDS face numerous social, environmental and economic roadblocks, in addition to climate change, hindering their efforts to develop.


But many of the calls for immediate action have gone largely unanswered, and SIDS must now tackle the realities that a changing climate poses to their development. Given recent catastrophic weather events, disaster risk reduction and preparedness was, appropriately, a central topic of discussion in Samoa, although some felt the controversial topic of climate-induced migration deserved more attention. While many of these issues have been on the agenda for at least twenty years, the time remaining for islands to prepare or adapt is running out. One group of countries, specifically low-lying atoll nations, is already feeling the devastating impacts of climate change, and cannot afford to wait for the world to take action. As President Anote Tong of Kiribati implored to his fellow delegates, "How many more COPs will it take to see global action on climate change? For us on the front line, it is already too late."


ʻO le fogavaʻa e tasi.

– We are One Family.


Looking for the urgent implementation of past commitments, rather than sweeping new political agreements, SIDS made the decision to focus the Third International Conference on SIDS on building partnerships. Attempting to put "meat on the bones" of the two previous international conferences and on the SAMOA Pathway itself, the emphasis in Samoa was to incentivize governments and stakeholders to bring new initiatives to the table instead of new text. In fact, with no textual negotiations to steal the attention, the multi-stakeholder partnership dialogues became the central focus of the conference, and 297 partnerships were recorded by its close. Wu Hongbo, Secretary-General of the Conference, remarked that never before had this call for concrete actions been so well integrated into a UN conference, stating that "it is the template of the future."


Although some feared that a lack of high-stake negotiations in Samoa would detract from the importance of or attention given to the conference, island nations seized upon the relaxed atmosphere to present a more positive narrative for their development. Showcasing themselves as models for renewable energy development and energy efficiency, information and communication technologies, and biodiversity conservation, they were able to engage partners on these issues by touting high returns on investment. The need for partnerships between SIDS was highlighted extensively, with work of the Global Island Partnership and SIDS-DOCK driving these efforts forward, as well as initiatives at the local level, such as a new partnership to promote the use of traditional knowledge in resource management in the Pacific islands. The strong presence of civil society, the private sector and the international community across the conference and its multi-sectoral forums illustrated the recognition that partnerships with all stakeholders and actors, including at the local and community levels, is required.


While the announcement of so many commitments and pledges was energizing, whether or not they will be successfully and promptly implemented in the future remains to be seen. As one delegate put it, the process from project gestation to implementation is "tortuously long and laborious." As the traditional body for following-up on the SIDS conferences, the UN Commission on Sustainable Development, held its final meeting in 2013 and the new review process for the SIDS process is yet to be agreed, the accountability of these pledged partnerships and initiatives is murky. However, the SAMOA Pathway document does offer a few options in an UN-housed online platform, a mandated report of the Secretary-General to the 69th Session of the General Assembly on a potential partnership framework, and a call for the High Level Political Forum to devote adequate time to SIDS. But, concrete follow-up on the US$1.9 billion in pledges made in Samoa is still a distant goal given the uncertainty over details of the specific review mechanism.


When asked about prioritizing partnerships as the central theme of the conference, Permanent Representative Aliioaiga Feturi Elisaia of Samoa had a simple answer: "Partnership is not a blame game, but a way to correct mistakes and share in success together," he said, "We will always say thank you to our partners first."


E tuai tuai, ta te maʻona ai.

- It Is a Very Long Time Coming, but it Will Be Satisfying.


The Third International SIDS Conference came at an important time for SIDS to assert their needs and priorities on the world stage, and to finally inspire new actions on long-term challenges. In Samoa, SIDS strongly reaffirmed their categorization as a special group in need of special attention, but also showcased new leadership in presenting island partnership opportunities as exciting, valuable opportunities for the global community.


This is important, especially as the world coalesces around multiple processes and negotiations in 2015 that will have dramatic consequences for small islands— the Third World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in Sendai, Japan, the Third Conference on Financing for Development in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the adoption of the post-2015 development agenda in New York, US, and the UNFCCC climate change negotiations set to adopt a new agreement in Paris, France. In their statements throughout the week, many island countries expressed hope that they can "seize the moment" to build on the outcome and momentum from Samoa to fight for their priorities on the world stage. If not, some SIDS worried that the outcome of the 2014 Conference risks becoming overshadowed by the multitude of high-profile meetings to come.


The first test will be at the next big gathering of Heads of State and Government, the UN Secretary-General’s Climate Summit later this month, which will take the Samoan model a step further by focusing solely on the launch of new climate initiatives, partnerships, and national commitments ahead of COP 21 in Paris. SIDS called on their global partners to show up in full force at the Summit, and pledge actions building on the momentum started in Samoa. Some countries have responded to the link between commitments to SIDS and strong climate efforts, because, as the US remarked in plenary, "the best thing that we can do for our island partners is reduce our emissions at home." Nevertheless, the difficult climate negotiations in the year and a half ahead threaten to drown out any pledges made in Samoa.


The negotiation of the post-2015 development agenda also offers a unique opportunity for SIDS to carry forward the weight of commitments made in Samoa to a larger scale and lay the groundwork for the means of implementation of new development goals, with innovative new partnerships driving forward progress. Or, will the lack of a coherent review mechanism for SIDS partnerships also plague the international development negotiations? There is much to be worked out in the year ahead.


If one thing is certain, it is that the people and the Government of Samoa were able to bring the international community to its shores in a historic fashion. "Only by making the trip over can you appreciate our reality," said one SIDS delegate. And that reality, while it is one of trepidation and unease for the storms to come, is also one of colorful promise in island communities. The voices of the SIDS rose up in Samoa, making it clear that they would not be underestimated by their "small" or "developing" status. These islands, now connected to the world like never before, may also be its leader in the years to come. As their ships explored the world in ancient times with the stars and waves as guides, so now do the SIDS hope to lead their people and partners in a new direction.


This analysis, taken from the summary issue of the Earth Negotiations Bulletin © enb@iisd.org, is written and edited by Asheline Appleton, Kate Louw, Leila Mead, Kate Offerdahl, and Delia Paul. The Digital Editors are Langston James "Kimo" Goree VI and Kiara Worth. The Editor is Pamela Chasek, Ph.D. pam@iisd.org>.

The Director of IISD Reporting Services is Langston James "Kimo" Goree VI kimo@iisd.org>.

The Sustaining Donors of the Bulletin are the European Commission (DG-ENV and DG-CLIMATE) and the Government of Switzerland (the Swiss Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN) and the Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation (SDC)).

General Support for the Bulletin during 2014 is provided by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB), the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, SWAN International, the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs, the Japanese Ministry of Environment (through the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies - IGES), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and the International Development Research Centre (IDRC). Funding for coverage of this conference has been provided by the UN Development Programme (UNDP), UNEP, and the World Bank.

Funding for translation of the Bulletin into French has been provided by the Government of France, the Wallonia, Québec, and the International Organization of La Francophonie/Institute for Sustainable Development of La Francophonie (IOF/IFDD). The opinions expressed in the Bulletin are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of IISD or other donors. Excerpts from the Bulletin may be used in non-commercial publications with appropriate academic citation.

For information on the Bulletin, including requests to provide reporting services, contact the Director of IISD Reporting Services at kimo@iisd.org>, +1-646-536-7556 or 300 East 56th St., 11D, New York, NY 10022 USA.