The kind of public/private partnerships necessary for sustainable development can only happen with commitment and the appropriate frameworks in place.
In fact, Minister of Foreign Affairs Senator Maxine McClean told a high-level meeting on Fostering Private Sector Partnerships for SIDS this morning that there were challenges and not all were of a private sector making.
She told leaders, including Secretary General of the SIDS Conference, Wu Hongbo, that for sustainable development to happen in small island developing states, there had to be a close collaboration with the private sector.
“In our SIDS countries, some of the key sectors critical to our sustained economic growth as you heard before include agriculture, fisheries, marine resources, transport and information and communication technologies. For Barbados we consider it imperative that the appropriate framework be created to foster an enabling environment for these vital private sector activities, especially in light of their potential for contributing to promoting a green economy.
“We believe this is possible for other SIDS as well. I would want to suggest that beyond traditional productive sectors it is important that conditions are created which I encourage businesses that utilise indigenous materials and local knowledge and thus lend themselves to being sustainable,” she said.
For example, she pointed out that in Barbados she had seen a number of creative entrepreneurs attempt to blend local raw materials into their creations in the manufacturing sector. The challenge, she said though, was that unwillingness of local businesses to use those products, preferring instead to import.
“Unless there is acceptance of those initiatives and a commitment to utilise them, in other words that other sectors be supportive of those initiatives to utilise indigenous materials,” McClean stated.
In speaking to one such manufacturer, she said the creator had indicated marginal support from the tourism sector because of the difference in price.
“The notion is that it is cheaper to import something which is perhaps less attractive aesthetically, and in terms of quality, but at the end of the day the focus was simply on the bottom line, forgetting of course that if we are simply talking about sustainability there has to be collaboration at the level not only within sectors because we are talking about across SIDS but we are talking within the context of our individual countries, that there has to be that collaboration if we are to realise true sustainability.”
Building a private sector within SIDS that was sustainable, she interjected, was critical if the countries were to reduce their dependence on external source markets.
But, she also noted that the fostering of a conducive environment meant that there had to be the development of an indigenous entrepreneurial class.
While she could highlight a comprehensive portfolio of incentives, McClean said at the heart had to be a structure, a system, and a commitment to efficient and effective implementation.
“That I can identify as one of perhaps our major weaknesses and I am sure it applies to not only Barbados and SIDS in the Caribbean, but if I were to speak to my colleagues, something that has plagued many countries, developed and developing,” she said, adding that Government had taken steps to look at issues of implementation with a focus on better business facilitation. (LB)