DR. ARUN KASHYAP: International Year of SIDS Launch

Apr 24, 2014

Dr. Arun Kashyap
UN Resident Coordinator/UNDP Resident Representative,
International Year of SIDS Launch
Thursday, April 24, 2014 at 5:00 p.m.


  • Hon. Arnold Nicholson, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade of Jamaica (TBC)
  • Government Ministers and Officials from Jamaica and the Region
  • Ms. Alicia Bárcena, Executive Secretary of ECLAC
  • Ms. Diane Quarless, Director, ECLAC Sub-regional Office for the Caribbean
  • Excellences of the Diplomatic and Consular Corps
  • United Nations Colleagues

Distinguished Delegates attending the Third Meeting of the Caribbean Development Round Table (CDR) and the Twenty-fifth Session of the Caribbean Development and Cooperation Committee (CDCC)
Specially invited guests
Ladies and Gentlemen

Good evening

On behalf of the United Nations, it is a pleasure for me to welcome you this evening to the Regional Launch of International Year of Small Island Developing States (SIDS). In the words of our Secretary General, "The International Year (of SIDS) is an opportunity to appreciate the extraordinary resiliency and rich cultural heritage of the people of small island developing States". On that note, I extend a very warm Jamaican welcome to visiting delegations representing Member States, Associate Members, Observers, United Nations Funds, Programmes and Specialized Agencies, and intergovernmental and multilateral organizations that have made the effort to participate in the Third Meeting of the Caribbean Development Round Table (CDR) and the Twenty-fifth Session of the Caribbean Development and Cooperation Committee (CDCC).

I am delighted that Jamaica is hosting the Regional Launch of International Year of SIDS. 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 at the Third International Conference on SIDS to be held in Samoa later this year. In fact, the eagerness of all the participants to express the realities, challenges and aspirations of the Region in clear, unambiguous positions will contribute to translating the Caribbean perspective in the SIDS global agenda and success of the international meeting. We, as the United Nations system, therefore, commit our full support to the government of Jamaica and indeed the governments of the Region to ensure strong and effective representation at the international conference.
I would at this point, like to take the opportunity to acknowledge the unwavering support of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) under the able leadership of Ms. Alicia Bárcena, Executive Secretary, and strongly supported by Ms. Diane Quarless, Director, ECLAC Subregional Office for the Caribbean, and who is no stranger to Jamaica. ECLAC is to be commended for taking the lead in championing the cause of SIDS in the region.

In the same breath, I would also like to commend the government of Jamaica for playing a leadership role among Caribbean SIDS. Last year Jamaica hosted the Caribbean Regional Preparatory Meeting for the Samoa conference and if I am not mistaken, was the first country to complete national consultations and submit a synthesis report on the outcomes of the consultations; reflecting cross-sectoral, multi-disciplinary, and broad-based stakeholder engagement. Having also completed the post-2015 national consultations last year, Jamaica once again has the remarkable opportunity to engage its grassroots citizens in a second round of post-2015 consultations. As the only country in the Caribbean selected to provide input on the thematic area “localizing the post-2015 development agenda,” this presents an excellent opportunity for Jamaica to again play a leadership role in representing the specific concerns of Caribbean SIDS and to shaping of the post-2015 development agenda.
Following the United Nations General Assembly’s outlined objectives, the Conference will seek to achieve the following:

  1. Assess the progress to date and the remaining gaps in the implementation of the Barbados Plan of Action (BPOA) and Mauritius Strategy for its further Implementation (MSI);
  2. Seek a renewed political commitment to sustainable development of SIDS;
  3. Identify new and emerging challenges and opportunities for the sustainable development of SIDS and means of addressing them; and
  4. Identify priorities for the sustainable development of SIDS to be considered in the elaboration of the post-2015 UN development agenda.

The resolution calls for “a concise, focused, forward-looking and action-oriented political document.” The small island States have also express their desire to highlight successful partnerships and innovation.

The General Assembly has never before designated an international year for a group of countries. Small Island Developing States in the Caribbean remain a special case for sustainable development in view of their unique and particular vulnerabilities. Included among these are the adverse impacts of climate change, impacts of natural disasters; management of waste; management of coastal, marine and biodiversity resources; fresh water and land resources and the need for strengthening human, institutional and systemic capacities.

The observance of the International Year of SIDS reflects an increasing understanding that we must collectively address the special needs of Small Island Developing States.

As many states in the Region fall into the classification of either upper or lower middle income countries, there are shared challenges of; high indebtedness, the need to eliminate poverty and inequity, lower energy costs, strengthen transport and communications while enhancing revenues from sustainable tourism, and fortify inclusive growth through enhanced skills in science, technology and human resource development. 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 to ensure a better 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 conference in Samoa.

Preparatory processes, such as the Caribbean Development Roundtable and the Caribbean Development and Cooperation Committee meetings, must ensure 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 which builds upon both South-South and Triangular Cooperation. Indeed UNDP’s Human Development Report 2013, “The Rise of the South: Human Progress in a Diverse World” examined the evolving geopolitics of the era, analyzing emerging issues and trends, whilst identifying 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.

I remain eternally optimistic that the Caribbean Region has the potential to pull together to work as a team to overcome these challenges. Indeed, the Caribbean has demonstrated its capacity for collaboration delivering sound results through solid institutions such as: CARICOM, The University of the West Indies, The West Indies Cricket Team, its common regional high school examination – CSEC, just to name a few. These are strong foundations on which the Caribbean can build to achieve sustainable, equitable and inclusive development. Coincidentally, at the risk of sounding biased, I wish to congratulate the Jamaica team of junior athletes for its record haul of 88 medals at the just concluded 43rd CARIFTA Games held in Fort-de-France, Martinque.

While I speak on behalf of the United Nations System in Jamaica who stand 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 and to reaching our common goal of a more sustainable future. We look forward to be guided by you - our partners - in the future of this Region. In closing I reiterate the wise words of our Secretary General “Planet Earth is our shared island. Let us join forces to protect it.”

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