By Sharon Austin
BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (BGIS) -- Barbados Prime Minister Freundel Stuart has again called for the United Nations to consider convening a meeting of the small island developing states (SIDS) finance ministers.
Prime Minister Freundel Stuart
While addressing Thursday’s global celebration for World Environment Day 2014, Stuart made a request for the secretary general of the United Nations and the leadership of the Bretton Woods Institutions to explore the possibility of addressing the issue, ahead of the third international conference on small island developing states, to be held later this year in Samoa.
He continued: “The objective of such a meeting would be to address one of the most crippling issues being faced as a major constraint to the sustainable development of SIDS, that is, debt. Its main purpose would be to frame SIDS-specific practical and pragmatic actions in response to this issue as a fundamental input to the outcome of the third international conference on SIDS.”
The prime minister said that small island developing states’ governments needed to take their own urgent and decisive action to strengthen their strategic coherence, particularly on issues at the international level. He expressed the view that it was necessary for them to speak with one voice to ensure their concerns were taken on board at international fora.
While congratulating the United Nations Environment Programme and its hard- working staff for promoting the cause of the environment and sustainable development everywhere, Stuart expressed concern that SIDS issues did not feature as a substantive agenda item for the upcoming first historic session of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) in Nairobi, Kenya.
“We are of the view that the fundamental requirements of the SIDS community need to be put on the UNEA agenda and we call upon the executive director to give consideration to this matter with some urgency,” he urged.
In 1994, representatives of SIDS and the international community met in Barbados and agreed to the programme of action for the sustainable development of small island developing states, also referred to as the Barbados Programme of Action (BPOA). The Mauritius Strategy was developed following the 2005 international conference for the review of the BPOA, held in Mauritius.
Stuart also noted that one of the fundamental principles underpinning both the BPOA and the Mauritius Strategy was inter and intra-regional collaboration across the SIDS regions.
“To date, this remains one of the weakest aspects of the implementation of the SIDS agenda and is yet to be adequately addressed,” he said.
The prime minister continued: “In Barbados’ view, a clear indication of doing justice to this important and fundamental concept must be the establishment in each of the SIDS regions of a SIDS inter-governmental institutional mechanism to contribute to driving SIDS sustainable development. The experience over the past 20 years has taught us that without such a mechanism, progress will continue to be retarded.”
He stressed that the development of a SIDS inter-governmental institution must be one of the critical outputs of the third international conference on SIDS.
“Without such a mechanism, it is likely that most of the “practical and pragmatic actions” perceived by the various United Nations General Assembly resolutions will go unimplemented,” Stuart said.
Raise Your Voice, Not the Sea Level
is the slogan for this year’s World Environment Day, which is celebrated annually on June 5.