The current international political and economic context has meant that Caribbean countries face a difficult situation today in diverse areas, ranging from the effects of natural disasters to a shortage of resources, complex access to financing, narrow fiscal space for introducing social reforms, and the burden of high levels of indebtedness, among other problems. All these challenges, which hamper progress toward achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, were analyzed today by authorities from various countries of the subregion in the framework of the third meeting of the Forum of the Countries of Latin America and the Caribbean on Sustainable Development, which is taking place this week at ECLAC’s headquarters in Santiago, Chile.
On the first panel of the Forum’s debates, entitled “Challenges of implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in the Caribbean,” the participants were Alicia Bárcena, Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC); Sheila Gweneth Carey, Permanent Representative of the Bahamas to the United Nations, in her capacity as co-facilitator of the political declaration of the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development; Gale T. C. Rigobert, Minister of Education, Innovation, Gender Relations and Sustainable Development of Saint Lucia; Camille Robinson-Regis, Minister of Planning and Development of Trinidad and Tobago; and Troy Torrington, Director of Multilateral and Global Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Guyana. The panel was moderated by Diane Quarless, Chief of ECLAC’s Subregional Headquarters for the Caribbean (located in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago).
In a fruitful debate, the authorities acknowledged the shared limitations on development that still persist among Caribbean States. They also stressed the need to change the paradigm of international cooperation along with the approach to production and development processes, with the aim of achieving the 2030 Agenda’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
“Latin America has to put itself behind and back the Caribbean countries to ensure their financial situation and help them achieve the SDGs,” Alicia Bárcena stated. ”We have deliberately put the ‘Caribbean first’ in all of ECLAC’s activities because we believe that we must carry out not only the 2030 Agenda, but also the SAMOA Pathway, which is another important agreement adopted by the United Nations to facilitate achievement of the SDGs in small island developing States.”
During the session, ECLAC’s Executive Secretary also congratulated Guyana on being the first country of the region to ratify the Escazú Agreement on access to information, public participation and justice in environmental matters.
Meanwhile, Diane Quarless explained that at the next High-level Political Forum of the United Nations, which will be held in September 2019, the central themes to be discussed regarding the Caribbean are the empowerment of people, ensuring inclusiveness and promoting equality in building strategies to improve countries’ resilience.
“The essence of our message is that people are our most valuable asset. And if we want these strategies to build resilience to be effective, we must put people at the center of our innovations and interventions,” Quarless added.
In their presentations, the authorities from the Caribbean underscored that people should be at the center of development and at the forefront of the agenda to fulfill the SDGs. In addition, they emphasized that a crucial aspect is taking ownership of the 2030 Agenda in the planning processes for national and local development.
In that sense, and in reference to the targets of the 2030 Agenda, they indicated that only what gets “owned”, financed and measured will get implemented. That is why it is vital to address the subregion’s challenges based on these three dimensions, especially regarding the importance of evidence-based data analysis.