DR. ARUN KASHYAP // Caribbean Regional Preparatory Meeting for Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS)

Jul 2, 2013

• The Hon. Minister Robert Pickersgill, Minister of Water, Land, Environment and Climate Change
• Her Excellency Marlene Moses, Chair, Alliance of Small Island Developing States
• Mr. Nikhil Seth, Director, UN Department of Economic & Social Affairs
• Mrs. Sharon Crooks, Director  General, Minister of Water, Land, Environment and Climate Change, the Chair of this sessions
Other guests to be recognized:
• Mr. Garfield Barnwell, Director, Sustainable Development of CARICOM
• Ms. Hiroko Morita-Lue, Chief of the SIDS Unit, UNDESA, and the team from UNDESA
• Mr. Crispin Gregoire, Chief
Strategic Monitoring and Support,
Caribbean Country Offices, Regional Bureau for Latin America and the Caribbean, United Nations Development Programme
• Mr. David Payton
Senior Advisor, Environment/Energy, Small Island Developing States Coordination, SIDS 2014 Conference, Bureau for Development Policy, UNDP;
•  Colleagues from other UN Agencies within the Region, and from outside the Region, including the Country Offices, FAO, PAHO/WHO, OHRLLS, ECLAC and UNEP
• Members of the Media
• Other Distinguished Guests, Ladies & Gentlemen, a good morning.

On behalf of the United Nations, it is a pleasure for me to join you today at the Caribbean Regional Preparatory Meeting.  A very warm Jamaican welcome to the CARICOM Member States, Cuba and the Dominican Republic, as well as the Non-Self Governing Territories that have made the effort to participate in this meeting.
We are delighted that the Caribbean Regional Preparatory Meeting for the Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States is being held in Jamaica.  It highlights the importance placed by the Government of Jamaica towards regional cooperation and the SIDS agenda, while ensuring that the voice of the Region finds a prominent place in the international conference.   In fact, the clear-sightedness of all the participants to express the realities, challenges and aspirations of the Region in clear and unambiguous positions will contribute to translating Caribbean perspective in the SIDS global agenda and success of the international meeting.  We, as the United Nations system, are therefore delighted to be associated with the Government of Jamaica in the organization of this important meeting.

As I acknowledge the significant efforts of the planning team consisting of Ministry of Water, Land, Environment and Climate Change, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade in coordinating and organizing the event, I would also like take the opportunity to congratulate the Government of Jamaica in leading the process of National Consultations and ensuring cross-sectoral, multi-disciplinary, and broad-based stakeholder engagement in the preparation of Jamaica’s Synthesis Report.  UNDP was delighted to support this process in close partnership with the Government of Jamaica.

In reviewing the record of implementation of the Barbados Plan of Action and Mauritius Strategy for its further Implementation, the National Consultation in Jamaica underscored the areas receiving most attention to be - the adverse impacts of climate change, natural and environment disasters; management of wastes; coastal, marine and biodiversity resources; fresh water and land resources and the need for strengthening human, institutional and systemic capacities. 

Jamaica like many other upper and lower Middle Income Countries in the Region, is a highly indebted country that needs to eliminate poverty and inequity, lower its energy costs, strengthen transport and communications while enhancing revenues from sustainable tourism, and fortify inclusive growth through enhanced skills in science technology and human resources’ development.   The area with greatest implementation lag, as per Jamaica’s national consultation, apparently pertains to its contribution to the regional institutions and technical cooperation.

Rio+20 not only acknowledged the need for a third SIDS conference, it also put in place an opportunity to organize Post-2015 consultations in countries globally by engaging diverse stakeholders to envision the “Future we want for all” beyond 2015.  In Jamaica, UNDP and the UN Country Team partnered with the Sir Arthur Lewis Institute of Social and Economic Studies (SALISES), Mona Campus, in carrying out Post 2015 consultations by engaging with and documenting the views of the stakeholders from civil society, private sector and community focus groups about the world they would like to live in.  The discussions focused on the theme of “inequality,” as experienced and explained by them against the background of a challenging socioeconomic development context of a highly indebted and a vulnerable small island developing state.  The SALISES team’s work benefited from the Organizing Committee and facilitators of the National Consultation on SIDS who assisted in broadening the group of stakeholders while enabling a mutual synergy.   The key messages of the report highlight decent job and employment creation, enhancing citizen security, strengthening good governance that is participatory, transparent and accountable and understaking “social protection” initiatives to improve the quality of education, provision of health services, etc. for vunerable groups.  This is also in line with the outcome of the Rio+20 consultations that asserts the full integration of social perspectives into sustainable and inclusive development.

While each of the Small Island Developing States is unique, I am confident that many of the Caribbean countries would relate to the above issues.  I would submit that it is an imperative for each country of the Region to take the opportunity – in fact it could be considered an obligation - to frame its realities, expectations and vision that would unleash its potential including that of its citizens and provide an opportunity to all to better their quality of life.  Additionally, it would empower the Region to speak from a common perspective in bringing these issues to the forefront of the global platform and seek effective solutions alongside their Pacific and African/Indian Ocean fellow SIDS countries, thereby ensuring a successful global meeting in Samoa in 2014. 

And, we have two best chances to agree on a clear set of priorties and enable the Caribbean countries to go well prepared into the broader inter governmental process and have their perspectives reflected in the outcome of the global SIDS meeting. In addition to this Preparatory Meeting we will have another opportunity at the inter-regional meeting in Barbados at the end of August.

May I take this opportunity to encourage all the countries of the region, especially those that have not yet had the opportunity to initiate national consultations to kindly try to finalize them  and complete the national reports at their earliest convenience.  My colleagues at UNDESA have assured me that if the remaining countries are able to complete their reports by the end of this month, they will ensure that all submissions find a place in a Synthesis Report to be prepared for discussion at the Barbados inter-regional event. 

The Preparatory processes have to make certain that SIDS matters persist as a priority agenda issue of international meetings.  For instance, the exceptional vulnerability of the SIDS countries to the most complex development issue faced by the global community today – that of climate change-- has to be addressed by the global community as a priority including through greater access to financing for adaptation and the development of a loss and damage mechanism. 

Partnerships are therefore vital – as is also reflected prominently in the Mauritius Strategy for the further implementation of the BPOA.  These partnerships not only emphasize strengthening relationships with the private sector but also extend into greater SIDS-SIDS collaboration that builds upon both south-south and triangular cooperation.   The recent Human Development Report of UNDP – The Rise of the South: Human Progress in a Diverse World looks at the evolving geopolitics of the era, examines emerging issues and trends, and also identifies the new actors which are shaping the global development landscape.  The main lesson from the 2013 Human development Report is simple: The South needs the North but increasingly, the North also needs the South.  The Small Island Developing States stand to benefit from the rising South.

On a personal note, I am extremely optimistic that the Caribbean region has the potential to put its efforts together to work together and be a team.  Since my arrival in Jamaica nearly 18 months ago I, for the first time, had an opportunity to witness the exciting cricket match – Celkon Mobile Cup Tri-Nation One-Day International Series at Sabina Park on Sunday between the West Indies and India.  The team effort of the West Indies Cricket Team was exemplary as they recorded a one wicket win over India, who incidentally are the World Cup and Champions Trophy holders.  It is clear that in the presence of an issue of “binding” significance – like cricket for the islands, partnerships can overcome significant barriers that make the teamwork seamless.  And, all of you know this and understand this better than I do.

While I speak on behalf of the United Nations System in Jamaica who  stands ready to collaborate with the Government and people of Jamaica in contributing to opportunities to improve the quality of life of all Jamaicans, I can also unequivocally convey that the UN system is keen to be working together with all of you to address these and other  emerging challenges.  We look forward to be guided by you - our partners - in the future of this Region.

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