Minister of Land and Environment, Dean Peart has recommended that appropriate mechanisms be developed at the global and regional levels to strengthen and sustain partnerships, which will ultimately aid Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in achieving sustainable development.
Speaking at an inter-regional meeting called to identify key strategies to improve the implementation of the Barbados Programme of Action (BPOA), on Tuesday (January 27) in Nassau, Bahamas, Minister Peart noted that the global environment had grown harsher since 1994, when the first global conference on sustainable development of SIDS was held in Barbados.
At that conference countries from the region agreed to a Barbados Programme of Action (BPOA) to address the special challenges and constraints faced by SIDS in their implementation of sustainable development. The BPOA focussed on 14 priority areas, among which were issues dealing with climate change and sea level rise; management of wastes, biodiversity resources; science and technology; tourism and natural and environmental disasters.
Now 10 years later SIDS face even greater challenges, he said.
“We need to develop the appropriate mechanisms at the global and regional levels to strengthen and sustain our partnerships. One of the critical lessons of the past 10 years is that the global environment has become a harsher place. Poverty, HIV/AIDS, security concerns, including drugs and small arms trafficking and terrorism and the impact of globalization are among the persistent challenges which are limiting the impact of our efforts.
“We cannot, however be daunted and our main approach should include strategizing towards the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD). This means informing our peoples about the process and involving civil society and the private sector in the preparations, as a means of deepening commitment towards the shared goals for our development,” he stated.
Minister Peart underlined several critical issues that SIDS must address in their efforts to achieve sustainable development.
One is the need to find creative ways to maintain water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services, which are all vital but expensive.
Land use and management also present a special challenge to SIDS, as well as the need for support for research and development. Developed countries spend, on average, six per cent of GDP on science and technology. In comparison, most SIDS spend less than one per cent of GDP.
“This is another area for closer South-South cooperation and for our international partners to commit to assist us through the transfer of appropriate technology,” he said.
Another critical issue is that the vulnerability of island biodiversity due to climate change and other factors should be taken into consideration for funding as a programmatic area.
He said Jamaica welcomed the recommendation for island biodiversity that would be included in the work programme of the Convention on Biological Diversity, and called on SIDS to support this proposal at the 7th conference of the parties to be held next month.
Minister Peart pointed to Jamaica’s own constraints and gaps, which were reflected in areas of financing, capacity building and coordination. “We need new and creative means of funding, accurate data to inform our decisions and for us to further develop our vulnerability indicators. Environmental accounting for valuation of our natural resources is also still a priority,” he said.
One of Jamaica’s achievements in this area, Mr. Peart said, was the Public Sector Modernisation Vision and Strategy whose key objective was to improve efficiency and decision-making in the public sector.
In addition, a Business Council for the Environment has been established on behalf of the private sector to address environment and development issues. And, at the local level, he said, the government was focusing on sustainable development planning and had established Parish Development Committees with wide participation from public and private interests.
“This interaction with different stakeholders is providing us with the opportunity to look at partnerships in a new way; across sectors and between communities, local authorities, the private sector and national government and non-governmental organisations. We are committed to building greater levels of partnerships among men and women, and addressing issues of gender equity. This will require us to be more proactive in terms of greater participation of women in decision-making and re-engagement of boys and men in education and training, for example,” he said.