Small island states seek additional funds

FINANCING sustainable development, says the 41-member Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), will be the most important issue to be taken up by the 1994 global conference on the development of these states.

US and European Community representatives noted, despite their "Rio rhetoric", they would accept mention of only the international community's "role" and not "responsibility", for the development of small island states.

AOSIS said it would like a special window for small island states in the Global Environment Facility (GEF). But, the developing countries are openly critical of GEF's domination by the World Bank, and observers warn that with the G-77 focussing on transparency and governance, the chances seem remote of small island states getting a special window in GEF.

Vanuatu's ambassador to the UN, Robert van Lierop, commented, "After Rio, an analogy for sustainable development that comes to mind is that of a train about to leave a station. Some passengers may have to hurry to get on board. They will have a problem if they are too late, for they will never be able to keep pace with the train."

The preparatory committee has set guidelines for the world conference to focus on problems unique to small island states -- tropical storms, coral bleaching and the prospect of submergence, should global warming raise sea levels.