Remarks, Opening Ceremony, Caribbean Action 2030 conference

Jun 28, 2017


Mr Bruno Pouezat, Resident Coordinator, United Nations in Jamaica

Opening Ceremony

Caribbean Action 2030 Regional Conference on the Sustainable Development Goals

28 June 2017


  • Prime Minister of Jamaica, the Most Honourable Andrew Holness
  • Chairperson, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade of Jamaica, Senator the Honourable Kamila Johnson Smith,
  • Honourable Ministers, other Heads of Delegations and representatives from governments from across the region
  • Pro Vice Chancellor and Principal of the University of the West Indies Mona Campus, Professor Archibald McDonald and other leaders of the University community
  • Honourable Prime Ministers, Ministers and other national delegates from across the Caribbean
  • United Nations Assistant Secretary General and UNDP Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean, Chair of the Regional UN Development Group for LAC Ms. Jessica Faieta
  • Professor Jeffrey Sachs, Special Advisor to the UN Secretary General for the SDGs
  • Conference Advisor, Former Minister of Social Affairs and Employment of the Netherlands and Former UN Under Secretary General and UNDP Associate Administrator Mr. Adrianus Melkert,
  • Excellences the Ambassadors and heads of international organizations
  • Members of the diplomatic corps
  • United Nations colleagues from across the Caribbean
  • Representatives of Civil Society, the private sector, the media
  • Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen

Good morning to all, and to our foreign visitors, welcome to Jamaica!

In late 2030, in just 13 years’ time, 193 nations including all of the Caribbean will be called on to submit their final reports on their progress in achieving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that make up the global Agenda 2030.

These thirteen years will pass in a flash so, if we are to reach the goals, we must move now to lay the foundations for sustained, accelerated action on Agenda 2030. Discussions to that effect started in May 2015 in the Caribbean Future Forum of Port of Spain jointly organized by the Government of Trinidad and Tobago, the University of the West Indies and the UN. Building on this first encounter, the Caribbean Action 2030 Conference offers an excellent opportunity for academics and policy makers from across the region to come together as co-investors in our common future. Our objective is to learn from each other’s ideas, best practices, workable solutions and resources, and to strengthen the regional platform for continuing cooperation that will speed up action within the limited time available until 2030.

To capitalize on this opportunity, our discussions over the next three days must be focused, thoughtful and deliberate, aiming to tease out strategies that will fast-track the visionary ambitions articulated in national development plans across this region.

The United Nations in the Caribbean – the development Agencies, Funds and Programmes of the United Nations in 18 English- and Dutch-speaking countries in the region on whose behalf I speak this morning – agree with our Conference partners that the four thematic areas selected for our discussions hold much promise for success to that end. These themes are: (1) Resource Mobilization; (2) Capacity-building for Public Policy and Rule of Law Institutions; (3) Strengthening Civil Society Engagement; and (4) Building the Evidence-Base for Policy.

Why these four themes? The SDGs are ambitious, wide-ranging and interdependent.

  • Sufficient resources for their achievement in the Small Island Developing States of the region will demand robust resource mobilization, including partnerships with the private sector.
  • Institutional capacity is crucial to policy implementation.
  • Civil society engagement, including with the youth who by 2030 will be steering SDG achievement, will generate grassroots advocacy, activism and bottom-up support in favour of change.
  • Finally, a strong evidence base will be required for policy to achieve maximum impact.

A greater focus on these four cross-cutting critical areas will generate, for the people of the Caribbean, tangible benefits across the economic, social and environmental dimensions of life – and for the region, considerable gains towards the SDGs by 2030.

Twenty United Nations development Agencies, Funds and Programmes that work across those 18 Caribbean countries and territories have now joined forces to better help the region achieve Agenda 2030. Elaborated with our national partners, our coordinated response for the next five years, the UN Multi-country Sustainable Development Framework in the Caribbean channels the resources and technical expertise of the UN towards four pillars: (1) An Inclusive, Equitable and Prosperous Caribbean; (2) A Healthy Caribbean; (3) A Safe, Cohesive and Just Caribbean; (4) A Sustainable and Resilient Caribbean.

These thematic areas are strategically aligned to the SDGs and will specifically address areas that are crucial across the Caribbean such as education, social protection and economic opportunities; universal access to equitable, quality health services and healthy nutrition; reform of security and justice institutions, focussing on corruption, citizen security and social cohesion; natural resources management and protection, sustainable use of terrestrial, coastal and marine ecosystems, renewable energy systems; and inclusive and resilient societies.

Achieving the SDGs will transform everyone’s life, and everyone has a role to play in achieving the SDGs. Indeed, it will take everyone pulling together to secure these ambitious targets. That is why it was essential that this conference gather academics and policy makers, development partners and civil society, the private sector and the media. And it was particularly important that the voices, the realities, the capacities of often marginalized populations – women, children, youth, older persons, persons with disabilities, vulnerable groups – are heard and reflected on in the search for solutions.


In conclusion, let me express our gratitude to the three parties which have worked together to bring us here today: the Government of Jamaica, with particular thanks to the Most Honourable Prime Minister, to our dynamic chair, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, and to the Permanent Secretary and her team at the Ministry; the team at the University of the West Indies/Sir Arthur Lewis Institute of Social and Economic Sciences, ably led by Professor Aldrey Henry Lee; and my UN colleagues across the Caribbean, many of whom will be chairing discussion panels. UNDP played an essential support role, ably led by the UNDP Jamaica Deputy Resident Representative, Dr Elsie Laurence Chounoune.


We are particularly grateful to all the participants for their continuing trust and support, particularly the Ministers and other national delegates whom I am delighted to welcome to Jamaica. Finally, among many, I must mention three individuals:

  • Professor Jeffrey Sachs, Senior Adviser to successive United Nations Secretaries General who has played a central role in the international discussions around the Millennium Development Goals from 2000, and now around the SDGs. In these uncertain times for international cooperation, his is the voice of passion, conviction, optimism but also reason.
  • My boss, United Nations Assistant Secretary General, UNDP Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean, and Chair of the Regional UN Development Group for LAC Ms. Jessica Faieta, who arrived from NY at 1 am this morning and will be landing back in NY at 1 am tomorrow morning but insisted on coming to support us.
  • Our Conference Advisor, Former Minister of Social Affairs and Employment of the Netherlands and Former UN Under-Secretary General and UNDP Associate Administrator Mr. Ad Melkert, who’s been holding our hand in preparing this exceptional event.


The UN in the Caribbean is convinced that, while the SDGs are ambitious, they are achievable throughout this region within the remaining timeframe. We look forward to the coming discussions in helping shape a lasting framework agreement for accelerated action at the regional and national levels, and we commit to the governments and the peoples of this region to continue supporting their efforts, across the Caribbean, to uphold the global 2030 Agenda commitment to ‘Leave No One Behind’.

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