JIS News

The Inter-American Development Bank in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) yesterday (Feb. 3) presented a civil society group report of Jamaica’s progress in the implementation of the Barbados Programme of Action (BPoA) and the United Nation’s Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
The report was presented at the Jamaica Conference Centre during a civil society national consultation to assess the implementation of the BPoA and the MDGs after ten years. According to Civil Society Advisory Committee member, Carol Narcisse who gave an overview of the report, persons from 39 Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) participated in different aspects of the consultative process.
These include citizens associations; community development councils; community organizations; community based action groups; women’s organizations; service clubs; environmental organizations; disability groups; cultural/heritage focused groups; community tourism interest, funding/technical support agencies, and at least one coalition organization. The consultations were carried out last November in Montego Bay, Mandeville and Kingston.
In respect of the BPoA, the groups found that there was greater need for more awareness of the BPoA as only 12 per cent of civil society representatives were aware of the document and its importance, while 19.5 per cent were aware of the MDGs. Some other issues of concern raised included; the need to stop/control unplanned and or informal settlements and commercial development/activity in watershed areas, along coastal plains and rivers; insufficient enforcement of regulations for solid, domestic and commercial waste management and disposal at household levels by industries including tourism and manufacturers; the impact of poor waste disposal and treatment on fresh water supply and marine life; attention paid to identifying and promoting alternative renewable resources for fuel, furniture and other needs.
The group also highlighted what they said was the need for real community involvement in resource management and project monitoring; the need to integrate and address the special needs of the most vulnerable and the need for increased information to CSOs on the availability of funding and other resources as well as the need for increased training and technical assistance to CSOs to enable them to improve advocacy and expand their work.
Addressing the fact that the national report on Jamaica’s status in relation to the BPoA was not on the same parallel as the assessment carried out by the CSOs, the group’s report stated, “it is possible that the gap which exists between what is reported to exist and what is perceived to be, is primarily a function of poor communication or perhaps a function of the fact that, as indicated in the national report, government’s implementation of the BpoA, much of the measures taken have been at the level of national policies, plans and legislation.”
The BPoA specifically addresses the priority issues within developing countries by reaffirming the commitments and principles embodied in the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, (the Earth Summit), which is a programme of actions, that investigates innovative ways of attaining global sustainability within the 21st Century.
The BPoA not only reinforces the principles outlined in (the Earth Summit) but it also reshaped them into a programme for Small Island Developing States (SIDS). SIDS refers to coastal countries sharing similar challenges for sustainable development and these range from having small populations with limited expertise and natural resources, to being ecologically vulnerable and susceptible to natural disasters.
SIDS provide a link grouping similar countries, strengthening their position in international negotiations. There are 41 SIDS countries, which are a part of the group. It was out of a conference held in Barbados in 1994 to highlight the concerns for special development needs and to formulate an Action Plan for Sustainable Development that the 14-point BPoA was formulated to focus on addressing the needs of SIDS countries.
Meanwhile, based on ratings specified by the UNDP, the National report for the 10-year review of the MDGs indicated that eradication of extreme poverty and hunger is on track while achievement of universal primary education has been achieved. The CSOs noted that the country would better be described as being on track for achieving this goal as issues such as school attendance continued to be a problem.
The groups agreed with the national assessment that Jamaica had not yet met the MDGs targets which is to eliminate gender inequality in primary education preferably by 2005 and to all levels of education no later than 2015.
Also, the consultation group agreed with the national report that while the country was behind in combating HIV/AIDS, it had achieved its target to stop the spread of malaria by 2015. Several possible reasons cited for the lag in performance included; Caribbean countries not providing enough care for persons living with HIV/AIDS; the public not paying enough attention to the education programmes in place, and the inability of persons with HIV/AIDS to afford health care. The group also noted that government had made significant strides in educating the public about HIV/AIDS, although it needed to focus more on providing better care for infected and affected persons.
In addition, the national assessment found that in terms of ensuring environmental sustainability, Jamaica was on track, as there was improved access to piped water and improved sanitation.
Participants in the day’s sessions included Community Based Organisations (CBOs), members of the Civil Society Advisory Committee and representatives of international lending agencies along with over 200 persons and non-governmental agencies. At the end of the day’s consultations, a plan for meeting the BPoA targets was produced to help form the content of Jamaica’s national report for the 10-year review of the BPoA (BPoA+10) to be held in Mauritius from August 30 to September 3 this year. The deliberations also aimed to strategize a plan to inform civil society of their role in striving to attain the goals of the MDGS and the BPoA.

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