Climate change and preparations for Rio+20 summit are present on the agenda when the Danish Minister for Development cooperation will travel to ministerial meetings in New Zealand and Vanuatu to represent the EU on behalf of High Representative Catherine Ashton. On the 12th of June in New Zealand, the minister will debate EU development cooperation with the Pacific Islands Forum. On the 14th-15th of June in Vanuatu, the Minister will attend a ministerial meeting with government representatives from African, Caribbean and Pacific States (ACP) and Europe. After the meetings, the Minister will travel directly to Rio de Janeiro in Brazil to participate in the Rio+20 Summit on Sustainable Development.
The meetings in Vanuatu may lead to a new alliance in the climate debate across the traditional divide between developing and industrialized countries. Development Minister Christian Friis Bach says:
"If we can agree on a joint declaration on sustainable development in Vanuatu it would be a very strong message. It could be an important input to the large summit. We have a common interest in ensuring that the development dimension will stand strong in Rio. The ACP-EU Partnership numbers 105 countries on four continents. It is a large part of the world community, which jointly has a significant voice. We have a common interest in combating climate change and poverty while promoting sustainable development for all".
The low-lying Pacific Island States are highly vulnerable to climate change impacts in the form of floods, saltwater contaminating water supplies, hurricanes and other extreme weather conditions. Ten of the Pacific States are among the world's 15 smallest economies. There are only a total of 10 million people on the Pacific islands, more than half of which live in coastal areas.
Vanuatu, which is hosting the ACP-EU Ministerial meeting, is a small island in the Pacific, east of Australia. In addition to preparations for Rio +20, the agenda for the Ministerial Meeting will also cover: trade relations between EU and ACP countries; and the link between development and migration. The EU is donating 22.7 billion Euro to the 79 ACP countries through the European Development Fund in the period 2008-2013, including help to combat climate change and poverty.