Barbados committed to working closely with SIDS
PRIME MINISTER Freundel Stuart has reiterated Barbados’ commitment to working closely with small island developing states (SIDS), especially those in CARICOM, to ensure that the Samoa Pathway Outcome Document, which came out of last year’s SIDS conference, does not become an ornamental report.
Stuart told the UN Assistant Secretary-General and UNDP Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean, Jessica Faieta, during her recent visit to Barbados, that he wanted to see the noble objectives in the document achieved so people in Caribbean communities could feel the effects of the realisation of some of those goals.
Those attending the meeting with Faieta included Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Maxine McClean; UN resident coordinator in Barbados, Stephen O’Malley, and his deputy, Lara Blanco; and Ian King of the UNDP Regional Office, Panama.
The Prime Minister agreed with Faieta that the system of accessing financing for SIDS was complex, and said that this was a source of frustration for SIDS. He described the process as “a torturous labyrinth” through which governments had to thread their way in order to access much needed financing.
“And sometimes some of the preconditions to access funding end up being punitive. We need some of those road blocks removed so that we can secure better lives for our people,” he stressed.
Stuart highlighted the importance of the vulnerability index to SIDS because such countries could be graduated and called very high middle income countries, but a natural disaster could strike and wipe out their gains overnight. “Therefore, it is important to push this issue of vulnerability as a criterion and also access to more concessional financing as a result of the said vulnerability,” he stated.
Faieta emphasised the importance of the Samoa Pathway Outcome Document, and suggested it could be married with the UN development framework and the CARICOM strategy to set out her organisation’s work in the region. “Certainly, we have taken a few of these issues and put them at the centre of our work, issues of vulnerability, climate change, and renewable energy,” she disclosed.
The UN official brought the Prime Minister up to speed on a number of initiatives being worked on by the United Nations. She identified a new Human Development Report for the Caribbean and Latin America as an important initiative being undertaken, and pointed out that several key issues would be tackled in the document.
“We have asked our colleagues here to be the coordinating office for it, since for us the preparation of that report is as important as the report itself. I hope it is something you will find useful to showcase some of the arguments that the Caribbean brought to the discussions in Samoa, such as access to financing for SIDS,” she stated.
During the talks, Senator McClean identified a number of areas in which the UNDP could assist the region, among them the provision of assistance to the CARICOM Secretariat in the preparation of a framework to monitor the sustainable development goals, and facilitating the establishment of a special programme for Young Caribbean Professionals in the UN system. (BGIS)