Rio+20 Can Usher in a New Era

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Prime Minister, Freundel Stuart addressing the Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro Brazil.??(C.Pitt/BGIS)??

Leaders gathered in Brazil for the Rio+20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development were told that the world was slow to heed the warnings 40 years ago, or to stay on the pathway of sustainability that was defined in 1992.

That assessment was made by Barbados’ Prime Minister, Freundel Stuart, during his address earlier today to the summit. He said it was his considered view that convening of the conference could serve as an important moment to usher in a new era of shared responsibility, while renewing our collective determination to act.

Mr. Stuart told his colleagues that "we must seize this historic opportunity to ensure that significant progress is made, and not allow old or new divisions, or finger-pointing to block progress."

He said he was there "to tell the world what Barbados has done, is doing, and will do to ensure a safe and secure future for current and future generations." In alluding to the country’s impressive track record on sustainable development, he assured that his government was committed to transforming Barbados into the most advanced green economy in the Latin American and Caribbean region. "In pursuing this vision, we have undertaken a comprehensive study of the policy implications and opportunities of this transition," he noted.

The Prime Minister revealed that he had received the final version of the Barbados Green Economy Scoping Study, which outlined a clear roadmap and governance frame work to enable the country’s transition to a green economy. "We are convinced that this pathway offers a uniquely integrative and multi-faceted approach to achieving the goal of sustainable development."

Mr. Stuart spelt out Barbados’ characterization of a green economy, defining it as "an integrated production, distribution, consumption and waste assimilation system that, at its core, reflects the fragility of our small island eco-systems." He told those present that Barbados was prepared to share its experiences with other developing countries, particularly small island developing states (SIDS), "and [we] will utilize every opportunity to do so," he promised.

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Prime Minister Freundel Stuart (centre), in??discussion with??Foreign Minister of the Bahamas, Fred Mitchell (left). At right is Barbados’ Minister of the Environment, Dr. Denis Lowe. (C. Pitt/BGIS)??

Later in the day, the Prime Minister held bi-lateral discussions with the Bahamian delegation at the conference, led by Foreign Minister, Fred Mitchel. Issues pertaining to CARICOM, CSME and continuing regional integration efforts were central to the talks. He assured that "despite what some persons were hinting and a few hiccups along the way, CARICOM is very much alive and well. We just have to make those institutions and organs work to our benefit. As a region, we have achieved a lot over the years" he noted, stressing that there were a lot more positives to report than there were negatives.

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Prime Minister Freundel Stuart??(3rd from right), in talks with IRENA’s Managing Director, Adnan Amin (centre). (C. Pitt/BGIS)??

Mr. Stuart has been having discussions with representatives of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and agencies attending the summit. He also met and had talks on renewable energy, waste to energy technology, and the benefits of solar driven energy with officials of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), led by its Managing Director, Adnan Amin. Minister of the Environment, Dr. Denis Lowe, also attended this meeting. The Prime Minister said the amount of money Barbados spent every year on its energy requirements was unsustainable, and that is why the country had to explore alternatives to its dependence on fossil fuels.

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