Climate Change

Roadmap for a sustainable development

"The message from Reunion Island"

Té / 3 September 2009

For the first time, more than 40 overseas entities from UE and the states of the Indian Ocean Commission (IOC) have come together at a meeting in Reunion Island, calling for action on climate change impacts to help preserve nature. For the first time, all of this entities joined force to counter climate change. President of the Regional Council, Paul Vergès, proposed energy self-sufficiency with renewables by 2050 for the small islands. Since 1999, the Regional council has an ambitious plan: energy self-sufficiency by 2025 from renewable sources alone (sun, wind, sea…). And an outcome: Reunion Island is since several years a leading example of adaptation to climate change.

Last year, a very important conference, "The European Union and its Overseas Entities: Strategies to counter Climate Change and Biodiversity Loss", was hosted on Reunion Island. The conference adopted a message called "The message from Reunion Island". It summarizes the work of 450 delegates from more than 40 overseas countries. In other words, it’s a roadmap to the sustainable development, an alternative to the neo-liberal globalization. Excerpts:

«The participants in the conference “The European Union and its Overseas Entities and Strategies to Counter Climate Change and Biodiversity Loss” on Reunion Island from 7-11 July 2008:

- Recognise the unique character of the natural heritage of European OCTs (Overseas Countries and Territories) and Ors (Outermost Regions), as well as the threats facing this heritage and the sustainable opportunities it can afford; (…)

- Invite all European OCT and OR stakeholders to implement the recommendations noting that:

- Issues of biodiversity loss and climate change cannot be addressed effectively unless the link between people, biodiversity and climate is recognized. This needs the involvement of policy makers, civil society, scientists, private sector and the general public;

- Develop specific climate scenarios for each OR and OCT, supported by regional modelling; subsequently conduct climate change vulnerability assessments and adaptation plans in all the OCTs and ORs, considering and involving the variety of relevant sectors, adapting existing tools and methodologies; finally, implement and monitor these adaptation measures;

- Increase quality and area of protected areas to accommodate climate impacts, apply the ecosystem approach outside protected areas, and reduce the degree of threat from other direct drivers of biodiversity loss;

- Economic valuation is one (but not the only) important tool for influencing development strategy and decision making. The profile of economic valuation needs to be raised and effective processes for the communication of results need to be developed. Tools should be appropriate for OCTs and ORs;

There is an urgent need:

• For EU Member States and the European Commission, together with OCTs and ORs, to establish a voluntary scheme for the protection of species and habitats, inspired by the Natura 2000 approach. (…);

• To highlight the importance of conservation, at species level, outside protected areas. The priority should be given to globally threatened species. The elaboration of restoration or management plans is only a first step in the process, that has to be followed by effective implementation;

• For recognition of the tremendous value of networking among existing national parks and other protected areas in order to harmonise monitoring, exchange best practices and share data.

• Encourage the EU, the Member States concerned and the OCTs and ORs to adopt these recommendations and to integrate them into their strategies for engagement with their OCTs and ORs, where necessary and appropriate; and urge action towards the early development of a network of stakeholders;

• Recommend that the EU, including, as appropriate, the Member States, relevant international organisations and the OCTs and ORs strengthen their involvement in regional cooperation efforts,

• Encourage the OCTs and ORs the to identify from within their own experience innovative actions aimed at tackling the related challenges of climate change and biodiversity loss, and to share their experience and best practice with their neighbours;

• Encourage the Member States concerned and the European Union to pay more attention to the challenges facing OCTs and ORs in international negotiations on climate change and biodiversity;

• Encourage the EU and the Member States to make stronger reference on the OCTs and ORs in the European Commission’s White Book on Climate Change Adaptation, and to include the OCTs in the Global Climate Change Alliance; draw attention to the fact that that the ORs and OCTs can be outposts for research and observation on climate change and its impact, including on biodiversity, and that this should be taken into account in the European Commission’s White Book on Climate Change Adaptation.

• Encourage the EU, OCTs, the ORs, ACP countries and the Small Island Developing States to unite in the face of climate change and biodiversity loss, by actively participating in international initiatives, such as the Global Island Partnership (GLISPA) concluded under the Convention on Biological Diversity at its Eighth meeting in Curitiba in 2006, and the Programme of Action on Islands adopted by CBD at its Ninth Conference of the Parties meeting in Bonn in May 2008.

«Energy is at the heart of development policy»

Energy is at the heart of development policy as well as climate change. The demonstration of strong political support to mobilise all stakeholders is essential. Satisfying the demand for energy and ensuring public access to it in island economies is vital where the standard of living is rising swiftly. In order to be effective, the commitment of the island populations is a prerequisite. The impact of transport and urban planning are major. Regional cooperation, together with the establishment and use of financial mechanisms, will allow key steps to be taken towards addressing the challenge.

The participants recognise the need to reinforce the linkages, and offer opportunities for exchange between the different actors working on the EU Overseas Entities, particularly with those that speak on their behalf and/or in their favour.
As several successful platforms exist, a tool or leverage must be identified that assures better coordination and added value.
Regional cooperation is now recognized by all actors as both an opportunity and a responsibility.
Issues of biodiversity loss and climate change are primarily regional in nature, many of these issues are more effectively treated at a regional level, and regional cooperation can create many opportunities (exchange of good practice, sharing of resources, economies of scale, synergies, etc.) while also increasing the voice of OCTs and ORs at a global level. Policies and practices of the EU and all other stakeholders should therefore facilitate and support such cooperation.»

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