From Earth Summit to Rome Ministerial Conference
The quest for economic and social development continues
The plight of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) first came to the attention of the world at the 1992 Earth Summit in Brazil where more than 100 heads of state met and designated SIDS as a special case in issues of the environment and development. They recognized that because of their ecological fragility, their small size, limited resources and isolation from markets, SIDS have been unable to take advantage of globalization, causing major obstacles to their socio-economic development efforts.
In 1994 a blueprint for the sustainable development of SIDS was agreed at the Barbados Conference on the Sustainable Development of SIDS. The Barbados Programme of Action reaffirms the importance of the "special needs of SIDS" and remains to this day the umbrella under which all other actions to assist SIDS are carried out.
The 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) reaffirmed small islands as a special case, adopting a series of SIDS-specific issues and concerns in the Johannesburg Plan of Action.
The Mauritius International Meeting on SIDS
Then in January this year, the Mauritius International Meeting on SIDS urged the 2005 FAO Ministerial Conference to consider endorsing priority actions for an enhanced contribution of agriculture, forestry and fisheries to SIDS sustainable development policies, in light of the importance of nutrition and food security needs in SIDS.
The Mauritius strategy calls for the creation of "synergistic linkages between tourism and the agricultural sector by promoting island foods and beverage supply chains, rural hospitality and agro-tourism and urged the international community to address issues of special concern to SIDS countries such as trade and food security and improving sanitary and phytosanitary infrastructure in these countries."
Small islands, with the support of the international community, are called on to "promote agricultural competitiveness through long-term development of efficient agricultural systems, diversification and value-added activities; and to ensure food security." Human and institutional capacity should be developed on "trade facilitation and niche marketing, agriculture, forestry and fisheries and natural resources product development."
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