National Forum Held on BPOA


A national forum involving environmentalists, public and private sector interest groups and government agencies was held on November 12, to discuss progress in the implementation of the Barbados Programme of Action (BPOA), for the sustainable development of Small Island Developing States.
This is being done in preparation for the International Meeting to be held in Mauritius come January 2005.
The BPOA, which identifies priority areas and indicates necessary actions to address the challenges faced by small islands, was endorsed by 111 governments at the global conference on Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States (SIDS), held in Barbados in 1994.
Speaking at the forum, convened at the Knutsford Court Hotel in Kingston, State Minister in the Ministry of Finance and Planning, Senator Deika Morrison said the Caribbean region faced several particular challenges, especially where the environment is concerned.
She said it was incumbent for leaders to develop solutions to preserve the natural resources, which were critical to the “main economic activities of tourism and agriculture”.
Senator Morrison said with the damage caused by the recent hurricanes in the islands, environmental issues have once more been pushed to the fore, necessitating a “clear commitment to institutional and capacity building for resilience against exogenous forces”.
She noted that this reality has communicated itself to Caribbean Heads, as issues of disaster management and vulnerability were of particular mention in the deliberations by CARICOM Heads of government at the recently concluded 10th Special Meeting in Trinidad and Tobago.
Senator Morrison told the gathering that “given the vulnerability of small islands to all elements of nature”, there was a need for steadfast commitment to protect the environment, without which there would be further environmental degradation in Caribbean countries.
“Hurricane Ivan has highlighted the need to put systems in place that protect and preserve the environment,” she emphasized.
Senator Morrison said where meeting the Millennium Development Goals of eradicating poverty and hunger, promoting gender equality, reducing child mortality, improving maternal health, combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases, ensuring environmental sustainability and developing a global partnership for development was concerned, “Jamaica is well on target”.
She pointed out that although Jamaica has continued its drive to eradicate poverty and has already attained the millennium goal in the case of school enrollment at the primary level, there were other challenges, which needed to be addressed in the drive to achieve sustainable development.
“The Jamaican Government is committed to sustainable development and policies built around the objectives of social equity, conservation of the environment, sustainable use of natural resources, sustained economic growth and employment,” the State Minister said, noting that despite the major steps being made to manage and protect the environment, address poverty, human health, shelter, education and energy, much remained to be done.
In his address, Permanent Secretary in the Land and Environment Ministry, Donnovan Stanberry said the passage of Hurricane Ivan was a forceful reminder of the vulnerability of SIDS, given the characteristic features, which militate against their survival and development.
“The challenge really is for SIDS to form the kinds of partnerships that will give them a strong voice in the international arena to articulate these issues and force attention on their peculiarities,” he noted. He said this was in addition to the need to educate the population at the local level, so as to ensure maximum participation.
He said the consultations would prove important to be able to adequately articulate the concerns of the Jamaican people in Mauritius.
Resident Representative for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Juan Carlos Espinola said it was necessary that Caribbean countries, including Jamaica, attended the upcoming Mauritius meeting to make their input during the discussions.
He pointed out that given the effects of the passage of Hurricane Ivan, risk management was one issue, which should be contained in Jamaica’s contribution to the Mauritius forum, as well as crime and violence, as these were issues, which impacted on the possibilities for investment at the national and international levels.

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