The Praia Declaration establishing this group calls for bold actions for its members to adopt common positions in international, regional and sub-regional organizations, especially in relation to the African Union and its Agenda 2063 and the Global Agenda 2030 on Sustainable Development, identifying common sources of funding and supporting one another in advocating policies and actions favorable to this group.
On December 16-17, 2016 Cabo Verde hosted the First Conference of the African Small Island Developing States and Madagascar (SIDSAM). Attending were the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Cabo Verde, Comoros and São Tomé and Príncipe, the Representatives of Guinea Bissau, Mauritius and Seychelles and, as observer, the United Nations in Cabo Verde led by the UN Resident Coordinator/UNDP Resident Representative.
The meeting represented a milestone for Africa as it officially formalized the creation of the African group of SIDS plus Madagascar. In the past African SIDS and Madagascar used to meet as an informal group of countries on the margin of major conferences, recently those held in Victoria, Johannesburg, Addis Ababa and Kigali, in December 2014, June 2015, January 2016 and June of the same year, respectively
African SIDS and Madagascar reached a consensus on the need for this Group of countries to formalize and enhance its actions within the African Union and in other regional and international fora. This long awaited result for African SIDS and Madagascar - just like the Caribbean and the Pacific SIDS had secured in their respective regions in the past- was finally achieved in Praia.
The creation of the group, which will be initially chaired by Cabo Verde, and through the Praia Declaration pledges group members to coordinate their positions, harmonize their actions and support one another in advocating policies and actions favorable to this group, especially in relation to the African Union, its Agenda 2063 and the Agenda 2030 on Sustainable Development.
This was clearly stated by the Prime Minister of Cabo Verde, Ulisses Correia e Silva, when he declared at the Opening Ceremony that “We are a country made of limited natural resources. Hence, our economic growth cannot be focused on these scarce resources. Even countries abundant in natural resources and minerals grapple with the challenge of transforming these riches into good healthcare, education, stable incomes, and happiness to ensure economic and environmental sustainability. And we know that so far this mission has failed to live up to its potential. As small island developing states (SIDS), we are exposed to far-reaching environmental hazards. Our environmental risks are born out of climate changes provoked by industrialized nations, with toxic effects for life on land and sea. This requires a collaborative approach on a global level to address the future natural catastrophes that we are exposed to. The issue of SIDs' vulnerability must be treated as a global priority, for the sake of our planet's overall sustainability. We are small, but our voice must be loud and boisterous if necessary”.
The work of SIDSAM will be taken forward through a new coordination mechanisms like the Standing Committee of Permanent Representatives of African SIDS in Addis, a network of Ambassadors in Addis Ababa, New York, Geneva and Brussels and the holding of annual ministerial meetings. Among other things the Declaration also calls for the creation of innovative platforms to exchange information, share best practice as well as build capacity, especially in the area of financing for development and negotiations where support from partners and the United Nations specialized agencies, funds and programmes is specifically sought.
The results of the Conference and the ambitious expectations stemming from the Praia Declaration call for the Government of Cabo Verde, as chair of this newly formalized group, to effectively guide the SIDSAM forward. At the same time, the international community –that is committed to the specific development needs of SIDS, , articulated by the SAMOA Pathway, the Agenda 2030 and Africa 2063 Agenda - is equally called upon to provide all the necessary support to the cause of this group.
Most of the technical, financial and logistical support for the organization of the conference was provided by UNDP Cabo Verde with support from UNDP in the African SIDS. This was a UN system wide effort and the Declaration made a specific mention of gratitude to the UN System. UNDP in Cabo Verde in collaboration with UN-DESA and UN-OHRLLS will continue to provide technical and capacity building support to this group during the course of 2017, to support the achievement of the new Group’s objectives