DR. ARUN KASHYAP: Launch – Caribbean Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN)

May 7, 2014


Dr Arun Kashyap
UN Resident Coordinator/UNDP Resident Representative,
Launch – Caribbean Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN)
Wednesday, May 7, 2014 at 12:15 p.m.


  • The Most Honourable Portia Simpson Miller, Prime Minister;
  • Professor E. Nigel Harris, Vice Chancellor, University of the West Indies;
  • Professor Jeffrey Sachs, Director, Sustainable Development Solutions Network;
  • Dr. David Smith, Coordinator, Institute of Sustainable Development, University of the West Indies;
  • Distinguished Ladies & Gentlemen.

A very good afternoon to all of you.

On behalf of the United Nations in Jamaica, it is a pleasure for me to participate in the launch of the Caribbean Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN).

I would like to congratulate the University of the West Indies for hosting the regional Sustainable Development Solutions Network for the Caribbean, and leading the coordination of strategic initiatives that would promote such solutions in the Caribbean while removing barriers to achieve them.

The presence of the Prime Minister, Most Honourable Portia Simpson Miller at the launch of this Network highlights the priority accorded by the Government and this Centre of Excellence in the Caribbean to mobilize leaders from academia, business, civil society and other stakeholders, and encourage evidence based practical solutions to bring about inclusive and sustainable development. Simultaneously, the Network will ensure that strengthened efforts are directed to realize the special needs and aspirations of the Caribbean countries especially through regional cooperation that is vital to its success.

The initiative is well-timed. The UN has declared 2014 as the International Year of SIDS. It is the first time that the General Assembly has designated an international year for a group of countries. This observance demonstrates an increasing understanding of the need to collectively, as international community, address the special needs of Small Island Developing States.

The timing of 2014 as the International Year for SIDS is fitting; the United Nations at present, is leading a global effort to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (we are now less than 600 days to the target 2015 date for achieving the MDGs), elaborating a global legal climate agreement this year; and preparing a new vision for sustainable development and forging a new Post 2015 development agenda that provides an opportunity for progress and a life of dignity for all.

And, as agreed by the member-states at the Rio+20 conference, the Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States will be held in Apia, Samoa in September – later this year.

The UN Country Team Jamaica was delighted to be associated with the Government of Jamaica in the organization of the Caribbean Regional Preparatory Meeting for the Samoa Conference. Supported by UNDP, the Government of Jamaica led the process of National Consultations based on cross-sectoral, multi-disciplinary, and broad-based stakeholder engagement. If I am not mistaken, Jamaica was the first country to complete the consultations and submit a synthesis report on its outcomes.

Rio+20 not only acknowledged the need for a third SIDS conference, it also put in place the organization of consultations globally by engaging diverse stakeholders to envision the “Future we want for all” Post 2015. We are grateful to the Prime Minister, Most Honourable Portia Simpson Miller, for continuing to play an important role in the global process and by consistently encouraging Jamaica and Jamaicans (including at the Diplomatic week earlier this year) to participate and contribute to this important consultation.

In Jamaica, the UN Country Team partnered with the Sir Arthur Lewis Institute of Social and Economic Studies (SALISES) in carrying out Post 2015 consultations on issues underlying “Inequality”. SALISES engaged with, and documented the views of the stakeholders from the civil service, civil society, private sector and community-led focus groups regarding the world they would like to live in.

The team’s work benefited from the partnership with the Organizing Committee and facilitators of the National Consultation on SIDS who assisted in broadening the group of stakeholders while enabling mutual synergy. Having completed the post-2015 national consultations last year, Jamaica once again has the remarkable opportunity to engage its local communities in a second round of post-2015 consultations led by UNCT Jamaica and the Planning Institute of Jamaica. 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 continue to play a leadership role in representing the specific concerns of Caribbean SIDS and shaping the post-2015 development process.

The Year of SIDS also provides the Islands an unprecedented opportunity to create a new vision and harness fresh energy and partnerships to address the challenges that lie ahead. Most nations in the Region are classified as middle income countries. There are shared challenges of high indebtedness, the need to eliminate poverty and inequality, lower energy costs, strengthen transport and communications while enhancing revenues from sustainable tourism – with implications for Forests, Oceans, Biodiversity and Ecosystem services, and fortify inclusive growth through enhanced skills in science, technology and human resource development.

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 as a priority including through greater access to financing for adaptation and the development of a loss and damage mechanism including access to safety net instruments. As per Jamaica’s national consultation, an area with the greatest implementation lag pertains to the need for regional institutions and technical cooperation to combat these challenges.

It would appear to be an imperative that Caribbean Region builds upon the realities, expectations and vision of respective countries to create synergy and partnerships that unleash development potential to ensure a better quality of life for every citizen of the Region. 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 Pacific and Indian Ocean SIDS countries to ensure a successful global conference in Samoa.

While the extent of the global sustainability challenge is great and requires new solutions, new opportunities and the mobilization of social, economic and environmental action together, the post 2015 process provides an opportunity to the global community (and therefore the Caribbean community), to work towards a new era in sustainable development. Potentially, the Sustainable Development Solutions Network has the ability to galvanize cooperation between top scientists, technologists, businesses and development specialists, and provide critical input to the ongoing work to shape an ambitious and achievable Post 2015 agenda.

Partnerships are vital – as is also reflected prominently in the Mauritius Strategy for the further implementation of the Barbados Plan of Action. These partnerships not only emphasize strengthening relationships with the private sector but also extend into greater SIDS-wide collaboration that builds upon both south-south and triangular cooperation. Not surprisingly, the theme of the Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States underscores the need for genuine and durable partnerships for their sustainable development.

UNDP’s 2013 Human Development Report entitled, ‘The Rise of the South: Human Progress in a Diverse World,’ examined the evolving geopolitics of the era, analysed emerging issues and trends, and identified the new actors that are shaping the global development landscape. Its main lesson is simple: The South needs the North but increasingly, the North also needs the South. And, the Small Island Developing States stand to benefit from the rising South.

On behalf of the United Nations System in Jamaica, I reiterate our commitment to continue to collaborate with the Government and people of Jamaica and contribute towards achieving the Vision 2030 Jamaica.

I can also unequivocally convey that the UN system is keen to work together with the Sustainable Development Solutions Network and its host of the Regional Network - the University of West Indies in identifying and promoting solutions for inclusive development around the Caribbean.

While we look forward to be guided by you - our partners - in how we can bring our substantive expertise and ability to convene broad-based and inclusive partnerships, the UN will look forward to your input to strengthening the regional contribution to the universal sustainable development Goals (SDGs) that would pertain to all countries post 2015.

The work of the Open Working Group on the Sustainable Development Goals is continuing and we are getting closer to the finish line. While the debate is now around what comprises specific SDGs, what constitutes a universal goal, and what must be carried through on the unfinished agenda of the MDGs, we are beginning the country driven analytics, programme and policy processes, as well as the next phase of the Post 2015 dialogues to frame the consultations within the UNCT and with government and other partners, of the UN’s contribution in the country going forward.

As our Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has aptly said, “We hold the future in our hands, together, we must ensure that our grandchildren will not have to ask why we failed to do the right thing, and let them suffer the consequences”.

In closing, as I leave you with these ideas for your consideration I would like to once again commend you on becoming an integral part of this visionary initiative to promote integrated approaches to inclusive and equitable development. Thank you!

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