Oceans economy and sustainable transport systems at the heart of Third SIDS Conference in Samoa

28 August 2014

Ways to make oceans 'engines of economic growth' for economically vulnerable small islands will be featured at an UNCTAD-backed side event during a major United Nations conference on the problems of Small Island Developing States (SIDS).

UNCTAD and the Pacific Island Forum Secretariat (PIFS) will underline the importance of healthy oceans, ocean-based economic growth and sustainable and resilient transport systems at a side event during the upcoming Third United Nations International Conference on SIDS to be held in Samoa from 1 to 4 September 2014.

The side event, Harnessing the Oceanic Wealth of Small Island Developing States through Sound Trade Specialization and Sustainable and Resilient Maritime Transport, will take place on 3 September 2014 from 7 pm. to 8:30 pm at the Faleata Sports Complex, in Apia, Samoa, and will be co-chaired by UNCTAD Secretary-General Mukhisa Kituyi and PIFS Secretary-General Tuiloma Neroni Slade.

Oceans and seas have a great potential for sustainable growth but are also vulnerable to significant environmental and economic shocks which need to be addressed by the international community including the impact of climate change, over-exploitation and poor management of marine resources, pollution, damage to the seabed and problems with oil, gas and mineral extraction. At the same time, maritime transport, a key oceans economic sector and crucial for SIDS to connect to world markets, remains vulnerable to economic shocks and environmental risks arising from climate change, energy-dependency, and lack of appropriate financing.

The dual objective of this side event will be to:

  • Highlight some of the various economic and environmental challenges related to the ocean environment and demonstrate how they can be turned into economic opportunities for SIDS and contribute to the structural progress and sustainable development of their economies; and

  • To provide examples of possible international action in support of efforts by SIDS to harness this potential and make the ocean an engine of economic and social progress, including through sound sustainable transport policies.

This side event is part of joint efforts by UNCTAD and the PIFS to address emerging issues of interest to SIDS and implement the future outcomes of the Third UN SIDS Conference in Samoa.

Oceans and seas cover over two thirds of the earth's surface and sustain both marine and land biodiversity, absorb greenhouse gases and determine weather patterns and temperatures. They provide food and energy, sustain livelihoods for coastal populations and also serve as highways to carry 80 per cent of international trade. They also attract about half of world's tourists. Unlocking the potential of seas and oceans cannot be achieved without efficient, sustainable and resilient maritime transport systems.