British Virgin Islands (BVI) – Premier and minister of finance, Andrew A. Fahie has been hailed by the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (UN ECLAC) and regional partners for the British Virgin Islands’ steadfast international leadership and for spearheading the first-ever high-level meeting of the Associate Member Countries of ECLAC on sustainable development.
The high-level meeting of the Associate Members of ECLAC took place on March 15 in the frame of the Fourth Meeting of the Forum of Latin America and the Caribbean on Sustainable Development, but ahead of the official meeting of the Forum from March 16 to 18. The meeting’s objective was to accelerate the mainstreaming of the Associate Members of ECLAC into the sustainable development framework of the region. The participants agreed to meet again in 2021 to discuss the Associate Members’ progress on achieving the Sustainable Development goals.
Premier Fahie chaired the virtual meeting in his capacity as vice-chair of the Caribbean Development and Cooperation Committee (CDCC).
In his opening statement, premier Fahie said: “The Associate Members of ECLAC as a special group of primarily Small Island Developing States in the Caribbean are making genuine efforts to achieve sustainable development. However, they share common challenges that require attention and support in order to achieve the sustainable development goals. Critical factors in the sustainable development process such as administrative capacity, policy expertise, technology transfer and financial resources are all areas in which Associate Members would benefit from more support. These challenges are now compounded by the pressure on governments to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and climate emergency.
“We cannot deny that COVID-19 has been a setback to the 2030 agenda. However, I firmly believe that this is the time to strengthen our resolve and to work even harder to defeat the pandemic and promote sustainable development and green growth.”
The executive secretary of ECLAC, Alicia Barcena, in her opening statement commended premier Fahie for spearheading the high-level meeting to discuss Associate Members’ challenges in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. She also highlighted the British Virgin Islands’ consistent participation in ECLAC and strong leadership as a vice chair of CDCC.
The chair of ECLAC, represented by Christian Guillermet-Fernández, deputy minister for multilateral affairs in the ministry of foreign affairs and worship of Costa Rica, lauded the British Virgin Islands for its advocacy on behalf of the Associate Members as a group within ECLAC who require more overall support as a part of Latin America and the Caribbean.
Official statements were made by prime ministers, premiers, deputy premiers, ministers and senior officials from among the represented Associate Members that included Anguilla, Aruba, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Curaçao, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Montserrat, Puerto Rico, Turks & Caicos Islands and the United States Virgin Islands.
Representatives of the Caribbean’s three premier regional organisations also made statements on support to ECLAC’s Associate Members, including statements by the secretary-general of the Association of Caribbean States (ACS) Rodolfo Sabonge, CARICOM assistant secretary-general for human and social development Dr Douglas Slater, and H.E. ambassador Stephen Fevrier, head of the permanent delegation of the OECS to the UN in Geneva. Ministers of government from Belize and Antigua and Barbuda were also present.
Additionally, participants also heard presentations on the circumstances of the Associate Members and support from the UN system that were delivered respectively by the director of the ECLAC Sub-regional Headquarters for the Caribbean Diane Quarless and UN resident coordinator for the Eastern Caribbean Didier Trebuc.
In highlighting the importance of the meeting in his remarks, premier Fahie said:
“This meeting is a decisive milestone marking ECLAC’s renewed engagement with its Associate Members and the tremendous efforts of Costa Rica as the current Chair of ECLAC to deepen the inclusion and participation of the Associate Members in the sustainable development of Latin America and the Caribbean.”