Eastern and Southern Caribbean States boost resilience with UN and US Government partnership
20 May 2022
Representatives from Small Island Developing States (SIDS) governments, high-level UN officials and USAID representatives gathered at UN headquarters this week to share best practices and discuss how to advance the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in countries that have been impacted by multiple shocks, including hurricanes, the COVID-19 pandemic and the eruption, a year ago, of La Soufrière Volcano in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.
Addressing the forum, the UN Assistant Secretary-General for Development Coordination, Robert Piper emphasized the importance of Global UN Reform in meeting the needs of the world’s most vulnerable populations in SIDS. He explained:
"Since its inception, a central focus of the reform was the UN’s renewed prioritization and increased investment in Small Island Developing States, guided by Member States’ needs and priorities.
In the Caribbean specifically, we strengthened our support to enable access by SIDS to development financing to increase their resilience to climate change and other external shocks."
Meanwhile, St Vincent and the Grenadines' Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN, Ms. Nedra Miguel underscored the value of the joint support offered to the Caribbean nation during the volcanic eruption of April 2022 which displaced over 20,000 people.
UN Resident Coordinator Didier Trebucq explained how Caribbean SIDS have found themselves at an important crossroads in their development. With the UN team-USAID partnership, these countries are in the driving seat of their path towards a new, reimagined Caribbean that is green, diversified, resilient, and sustainable.
“The UN is resolute in its commitment to support the region achieve the SDGs. We are clear that it is only through partnerships with friends of the Caribbean like USAID, that we have a real chance of moving the needle,” he stated.
Despite this sense of hope and optimism, the Resident Coordinator was also realistic about the challenges that lie ahead for the region.
"We know that while we have achieved many gains together, much more needs to be done by 2030. The new UN Multi-country Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework for the Caribbean – a roadmap to achieve the SDGs jointly agreed with host governments—is an opportunity to push this ambition, including with regional institutions."
This sentiment was echoed by Clinton White, USAID Regional Representative who spoke about the value of the strategic partnership with the UN in the Caribbean region.
"Our partnership with UN agencies allowed us to tackle some of these problems by leveraging each other’s value proposition and resources; forging strategic alliances for advocacy and action; jointly engaging in troubleshooting and problem solving; and exploring strategic opportunities for maximum impact."
During the discussion which featured interventions from PAHO, UNICEF, WFP, UNDP, USAID and the Government of Saint Lucia, panelists discussed some of the developmental support the region has received so far, including in the areas of education and food security. The panel also identified remaining gaps and discussed key steps to ensuring that Caribbean nations become more resilient to future shocks whilst continuing to advance the SDGs.
Claudius Emmanuel, the Permanent Secretary Economic Development and Housing of Saint Lucia told the forum that the UN-USAID support to his country, particularly in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, had been “timely, significant and relevant.”
He underlined also that coordination support from the UN had also improved with the arrival of three key UN staff on the ground who are housed in his office, including a UN Country Coordination Officer.
Mr. Emmanuel said he had also received pledges of support from the UN system for a new strategic area of focus on youth economy. He told the forum he was looking forward to continued collaboration with the UN and partners.
This story was written by Carol Ann Gaskin, Programme Communications and Advocacy Officer at the Resident Coordinator’s Office, UN Barbados and Eastern Caribbean. Editorial support provided by the UN Development Coordination Office.