“We are not small island states, we are large ocean states. We need to be taking full advantage of the potential and the possibility that you get from utilization of the resources of the sea. We need to sit down and plan that. When last did we have a meeting that speaks to the potential of the blue economy among ourselves, and we need to stop working in silos, that’s the next thing. That is one of the things that we need to look at going forward. You don't work at the national level when you can work regionally, you know, or inter-regionally. We all share the same challenges.”
Presenting excerpts from the Caribbean Regional Synthesis Report, on progress in sustainable development, Director Quarless said Caribbean SIDS must be the ones setting the best practice for the region, “We need to lead by example, it is very important.”
“Climate action. What can I say? The need for investment in adaptation and mitigation. The support… the need for funding adaptation, loss and damage, green climate funding to be replenished, the energy transition – all the climate adaptation issues that are being discussed in the COP are critical… We need to be going green.” Director Quarless also touched on other major challenges in Caribbean development including the vulnerability of the tourism-based economy, youth development, education, gender equality and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The countries and territories attending the meeting include Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Guyana, Jamaica, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, British Virgin Islands, Curaçao, and Sint Maarten. All these countries are SIDS, which are challenged by the issues of climate change, small economies, while trying to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals – SDGs (17 areas for improvement of human and environmental life) by 2030.
The UN Under-Secretary General for Economic and Social Affairs, Li Jinhua said “By fostering regional collaboration and partnerships, Caribbean nations can leverage their collective strength to overcome common challenges and embrace sustainable solutions. The United Nations is committed to supporting these initiatives to improve the livelihoods of SIDS communities and contribute to efforts towards a more resilient and sustainable future.”
Antigua and Barbuda will host the Fourth International Conference on Small Island Developing States in 2024. The Conference will bring world leaders together to focus on practical and impactful solutions to create a sustainable and safe future for people in SIDS and to deliver concrete actions to address challenges such as the climate crisis, biodiversity, and spiraling debt.