Barbados is encouraging members of other Small Island Developing States to “join hands” and “march forward” to stake their claim and rights to survival in the region.
Failure to do so by keeping silent, warned Minister of the Environment and Drainage, Dr. Denis Lowe, would be like signing their own “extinction warrant”.
Lowe was at the time addressing stakeholders attending the National Validation workshop on the Barbados National Assessment Report to the third International Conference on Small Island Developing States at the Accra Beach Hotel.
He also issued a call to the United Nations to allow Barbados and other SIDS to benefit from some of the funding arrangements put in place to render assistance, which were not easily accessible.
The minister noted that Barbados had made significant strides towards the implementation of the Barbados Programme of Action at the national level, but warned that unexpected new challenges on the horizon could erode those gains if not dealt with appropriately.
“I am of the view that many of the issues identified in the Barbados Programme of Action in 1994 remain extremely relevant 20 years later in this regard, and based on our national review Barbados and other countries continue to make great progress but there is still a lot of work to be done,” he said.
Among Barbados’ achievements outlined by the minister were the country’s progress in the deployment of renewable energy technologies, particularly in the area of solar water heaters; the advanced stage of the island’s coastal planning and engineering systems to address increased risks posed by climate change; the country’s land use policies and the regulation of its national information and communication technology infrastructure.
But Lowe pointed out, that the rising cost of energy and non-communicable diseases; the emerging global issue of cyber crime and changing international financial regimes that impacted on the international business sector, presented new challenges which could erase the developmental gains obtained.
Lowe said there were a number of things which could be put in place at the national level, but noted that there were concrete and enabling interventions required at the global and international levels to buttress national actions.
“The interventions of importance to Barbados include the need for a thorough and comprehensive review of the stewardship of the United Nations system with respect to the Barbados Programme of Action and the Mauritius Strategy. That review should provide concrete and practical recommendations on ways to enhance the coherence and coordination of the United Nations systems support of Small Island Developing States,” he stated.
The minister further noted that Barbados had become one of the more formidable voices on the global platform on SIDS climate change issues.
“The time must come when the United Nations system acknowledges the efforts of a small island state with a small economy like Barbados … and more is done for us. We have the [third SIDS Global Inter-Regional Conference] meeting coming up next month and we will be calling on the United Nations to assist with the financial burden of carrying that conference,” he added.
In the interim, the minister gave the assurance that Barbados would do whatever was necessary to safeguard its citizens.