Prime Minister Freundel Stuart has told the international community it cannot measure the development of small island developing states (SIDS) by GDP per capita alone.
Addressing the 3rd International Conference on Small Island Developing States in Samoa, he said the matter was one of great concern to his delegation, while insisting that GDP per capita could not be the defining criterion for accessing concessionary financing at the international level.
“If in developed countries with abundant natural and other resources, GDP per capita can be a deceptive and misleading measure for a man or a woman who wants a job, or a home or seed capital to start a business and cannot get it, a fortiori would it be a majestic deception in a struggling SIDS country where unemployment reigns, and where pressing and unmet demands for access to healthcare and education, low income housing and basic infrastructure from a sizeable part of the population are the keys on which the doleful melody of daily life is played,” warned Stuart.
He said the time had come for “new approaches” to be designed to assist middle income countries such as Barbados, as well as others which have been graduated from access to concessional resources.
The Prime Minister also noted that proposed mechanisms for addressing these concerns already existed within the Barbados Programme of Action, which arose out of the first SIDS conference back in 1994, as well as the Maritius Strategy which came out of the subsequent SIDS meeting.
However, he sought to remind delegates to the Samoa conference that “man cannot live by acronyms and catch phrases alone”.
“The call for implementation, echoed in every speech and indeed specified in Paragraphs 96 to 120 of the draft outcome document, is one of the defining features of this document.
“We must not, by our inaction allow SIDS to be seen as a brotherhood of the distressed, the disadvantaged and the deprived.
“If we do not actively shape the future, it will impose itself on us, in ways that are fundamentally at variance with our collective interests,” he warned.
In this regard, we call on the United Nations Secretary General to develop an effective approach for monitoriing the process of UN agencies and programmes in addressing SIDS issues meaningfully,” Stuart said.
The theme of conference is The Development of Small Island Developing States Through Genuine and Durable Partnerships.
In further pressing the case of SIDS, the Prime Minister noted with concern that after over two decades of reference to SIDS, no specific programme had yet been established in the Global Environment Fund (GEF) to focus on these countries.
“Barbados believes that such a special window should be established by the GEF to address SIDS concerns.
“Today, I urge the CEO and chairman and the GEF itself to consider the modalities for establishing such a mechanism,” he said.
Stuart also acknowledged efforts by both the United Nations Development Fund and the World Bank to establish SIDS specific funds, but called for these financial resources to be accessible to all SIDS.
The Prime Minister also highlighted the need for greater cooperation among SIDS, while stating that Barbados stands ready to serve as a hub for inter and intra regional SIDS cooperation and collaboration.
He also saw the need for SIDS to have a seat at the table on all of these issues. “I therefore call on all my fellow SIDS leaders to work together to implement the SIDS collectivity in the interest of our collective relevance and survival,” Stuart said.