JIS News

Regional Small Island Developing States (SIDS) must place high on the agenda of next year’s SIDS conference, the issue of highly indebted countries being categorised as middle income countries.

Minister of Water, Land, Environment and Climate Change, Hon. Robert Pickersgill, said that the classification, while indicative of progress, has limited the ability of small island states to access concessionary and development financing.

“The reality is that our categorisation as middle income countries has adversely impacted on our ability to achieve specific sustainable development goals and targets,” he stated.

Mr. Pickersgill was addressing Tuesday morning’s (July 2) opening ceremony for the Caribbean Regional Preparatory Meeting for the 3rd International Conference on SIDS, scheduled for Apia, Samoa in September 2014. The two-day preparatory meeting is being held at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in Kingston.

“Regional SIDS must also stress to the international financing community that the underlying debt problem of highly indebted small island states, and the related strictures, warrant greater access to concessionary loans, grants, and debt-for-equity swaps,” the Minister told the gathering of Caribbean stakeholders.

Mr. Pickersgill said it is also imperative that SIDS, including Caribbean island states, continue to actively engage non-SIDS members in the various measures underway that are aimed at speeding up attainment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), establishing sustainable development targets, and elaborating a coherent and integrated post-2015 development agenda, which will effectively address SIDS’ concerns.

“We must work together as countries of the Caribbean region, to align our priorities and sustainable development objectives,” he stated.

In his address, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Resident Representative, Dr. Arun Kashyap, said it is imperative that each country takes the opportunity at the two-day meeting to “frame its realities, expectations and visions that would unleash its potential, including that of its citizens, and provide an opportunity for all to better their quality of life.”

He added that the preparatory meeting will empower the region to speak from a common perspective in bringing its common issues to the forefront of the international platform, and seek effective solutions alongside fellow SIDS countries in the Pacific, African, and Indian Ocean regions.

The meeting also provides a forum for Caribbean countries to evaluate progress on the commitment made under the 1994 Barbados Programme of Action (BPA), and the 2005 Mauritius Strategy of Implementation of the BPA.

The results of these island states regional meetings (for the Caribbean, Indian Ocean, and Pacific Ocean), will be channeled to a ministerial level meeting in Barbados in August. There, SIDS from the three regions, will agree on common positions, which will provide direction during the global preparation process for the international conference in Samoa.

The Pacific Ocean SIDS meeting will be held in Fiji from July 10 to 12; while the Indian Ocean States meeting will be held in Victoria, Seychelles from July 17 to 19.

Contact: Alphea Saunders

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