The road to Stockholm Plus 50

May 29, 2022
Climate change

Climate change is a lived reality for many low-lying, small island developing states like Samoa. Stockholm+50 will play a critical role in ensuring a safe and sustainable future for SIDS.

Over the last couple of weeks, the United Nations Development Programme, UNDP,  has been engaging with various groups and communities across the Samoa spectrum for what are known as leadership dialogues – to canvass thoughts and ideas of how Samoa is faring in light of the most critical issues of our time right now: the urgent need for actions to achieve a healthy planet for all; achieving a sustainable and inclusive recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, and accelerating the implementation of the environmental dimension of the sustainable development in the context of the Decade of Action.

It culminated in the national consultation or talanoa for Samoa at the end of this week, beiginning an end to what has been a rich and productive exchange with different groups and stakeholders, that paved the way for the final consultation – a requirement under the Stockholm+50. One key message that was made resoundingly clear during the leadership dialogues, which also set the tone for Friday’s deliberations, is the need for all of us collectively to LISTEN and ACT NOW. Listen to the communities that we serve and act in and for their best interests. Listen to the vulnerable amongst us, and really hear what they need. Listen to what our scientists and research minds are telling us about the data, the patterns, the direction that needs to be taken, and upon hearing, act.

As one panellist puts it aptly during the final dialogue on Wednesday, we need to consolidate all that we are and will talk about, and really do something about it, so that we don’t have to keep on repeating the same conversations in the next 50 years, yet nothing concrete comes out of it. We need to be blunt, honest and ambitious.

The Stockholm Plus 50 Conference provides an opportunity for us all to do exactly that. Listen and act!

50 years ago, the Stockholm conference catalysed a new era of multilateral environmental cooperation and treaty-making. The Stockholm Declaration established international political goals and legal principles that have underpinned environmental discourse and law-making since then.

By stressing that environmental issues are inherently political and not just scientific and technical, the Stockholm Conference demonstrated how global cooperation could take place.

Throughout the world, people and policymakers developed a new understanding of environmental issues, leading to the birth of environmental diplomacy and environmental laws.

The conference contributed to the strengthening of environmental debate and policymaking by opening the door to non-governmental organizations that previously did not have access in the UN system.

And now, Stockholm+50 offers us another chance to leave a legacy for the next fifty years.

The international conference, under the theme of ‘a healthy planet for the prosperity of all – our responsibility, our opportunity’ presents us with a critical opportunity to strengthen environmental multilateralism and build towards a sustainable and inclusive future — a vision that is shared in the UN Secretary-General’s report on ‘Our Common Agenda’.

Samoa’s voice will be heard at this international meeting in Stockholm, Sweden on June 2nd and 3rd, through the contribution of the webinar consultations and the National Talanoa. The outcomes from those consultations have provided valuable guidelines for discussion about urgent action needed at the national, regional and global level.

I believe that through the collaboration of the Government of Samoa, and through our private partnership with Digicel, the Stockholm+50 initiative has inspired bold ambitions and powerful, concerted action on behalf of our planet, here in Samoa.