Damaged dock over turquoise waters in Antigua and Barbuda

Highlights and images for 27 May 2024

St. John's, Antigua and Barbuda

Opening Cultural Ceremony

The 4th International Conference on SIDS opens with a local cultural ceremony

“I have no intention to become a climate martyr.” Words spoken by the Prime Minister of the Bahamas captured both the sense of urgency and the willingness to advocate for action that was present throughout the first day of the Fourth International Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS4).

Delegates heard opening remarks in the morning. In a video address, King Charles III of the United Kingdom lauded islands for leading the way in tackling climate change, protecting biodiversity, and stewarding the global Ocean.

Want to dive deep into today's talks? Read the full Earth Negotiations Bulletin daily report.

Conference President Gaston Browne hailed the advisory opinion from the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) of 21 May 2024, which affirmed the legal duty of state parties to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea to immediately mitigate the impacts of climate change to protect the marine environment.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres called for doubling climate finance by 2025 and emphasized the need for the Multidimensional Vulnerability Index to help secure access to concessionary financing.

King Charles III, United Kingdom

King Charles III, United Kingdom, addresses the opening plenary by video.

Other opening statements noted SIDS’ unique vulnerabilities to natural disasters and climate change, including sea level rise, and the need to address gender impacts and vulnerable populations.

The general debate began in the morning and continued through the afternoon with remarks from 18 heads of state and government, followed by representatives from another 15 countries. Key themes included:

  • the dire threat posed by climate change, especially sea level rise;
  • major polluting countries’ responsibility to help address impacts;
  • and the gaps between the need for and access to finance, and between promises and delivery of funding.

Although the draft outcome document was agreed in advance of the conference, some expressed concern that it was not ambitious enough. The upcoming interactive dialogues may help elucidate options to accelerate actions outlined under the plan.

António Guterres, UN Secretary-General

António Guterres, UN Secretary-General 

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All ENB photos are free to use with attribution. For the 4th SIDS Conference, please use: Photo by IISD/ENB - Diego Noguera