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August 13, 2023

Caribbean countries urged to collaboratively address development hurdles & harness ocean wealth

Posted: Sunday, August 13, 2023. 5:09 am CST.

By Breaking Belize News Staff: In a recent meeting in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Diane Quarless, the Sub-Regional Director for the Caribbean of the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, emphasized the need for Caribbean Small Island Developing States (SIDS) to cease working in isolated manners. She pressed on the urgency of harnessing collective potential to address regional challenges.

Quarless, addressing the representatives from 16 SIDS nations, stated, “We are not small island states, we are large ocean states.” Highlighting the importance of the blue economy, she said, “We need to be taking full advantage of the potential and the possibility that we get from the utilization of the resources of the sea. That is one of the things that we need to look at going forward. You don’t work at the national level when you can work regionally, or inter-regionally. We all share the same challenges.”

Echoing sentiments from the Caribbean Regional Synthesis Report, Director Quarless stressed that Caribbean SIDS should set best practices for the region, emphasizing the importance of leading by example. Furthermore, she underscored the immediate challenges that require addressing: the necessity for climate action, the vulnerabilities inherent in a tourism-centric economy, the importance of youth development and education, the emphasis on gender equality, and the far-reaching impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The congregation consisted of representatives from Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Guyana, Jamaica, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, British Virgin Islands, Curaçao, and Sint Maarten. These nations, all categorized as SIDS, share the dual challenge of mitigating the effects of climate change and bolstering their relatively small economies, while striving to attain the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.

Li Jinhua, the UN Under Secretary General for Economic and Social Affairs, noted, “By fostering regional collaboration and partnerships, Caribbean nations can leverage their collective strength to overcome common challenges and embrace sustainable solutions. The United Nations is committed to supporting these initiatives to improve the livelihoods of SIDS communities and contribute to efforts towards a more resilient and sustainable future.”

The upcoming Fourth International Conference on Small Island Developing States, set to take place in Antigua and Barbuda in 2024, promises to be a landmark event. It will convene global leaders to focus on pragmatic and impactful solutions to ensure a sustainable and safe future for SIDS populations, addressing looming challenges like the climate crisis, the loss of biodiversity, and the mounting burden of debt.


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