to the 65th United Nations General Assembly
Millennium Goal 7: Ensuring Environmental Sustainability
Tuesday, September 21st, 2010
We reaffirm the significance attributed to each of the eight (8) Millennium Development Goals, and in this context to recognize the particular importance of Goal number 7- "Ensuring Environmental Sustainability".
Part of its significance lies in the fact that human well-being is very dependent on the existence of healthy ecosystems and biodiversity. It is evident that full access to ecosystem services represents a critical baseline from which the achievement of the other MDGs become increasingly possible.
While the countries represented here today are at different stages of development, the challenges with respect to climate change and other forms of environmental degradation will affect both developing and developed countries. Achieving environmental sustainability therefore means that we need to be equally astute in mastering lessons which involve achieving more with less, increasing resource efficiency and identifying sustainable alternative products and processes. These simple lessons apply with equal rigor from the most basic agricultural and fishing economies to the most complicated and sophisticated industrial cities – the core tenets of environmental sustainability remain the same.
Barbados, like many other Small Island Developing States (SIDS), is quite familiar with these challenges. Small islands, typically with few and specialized resources, have always been more vulnerable to a variety of threats resulting from external economic shocks and adverse environmental phenomena. For us, the margin of error is small and our human-environment balance much more delicate.
Significantly, for the General Assembly to note, it was this early awareness, of ecosustainability which initially gave impetus to the 1994 Barbados Programme Of Action for the Sustainable Development of SIDS (BPOA) and the 2005 Mauritius Strategy for Implementation (MSI) of the BPOA. The development of a more sound knowledge base over the past fifteen years has given greater impetus and focus to our work. In effect, what started as an honest appraisal, of our weaknesses within the context of environmental vulnerability, has evolved into a realisation of our strengths and is now key to understanding the space we have available for opportunity and success in the pursuit of global sustainability.
It must be mentioned that the totality of all the MDGs are in fact captured under the BPOA and MSI. In this the International Year of Biodiversity, it is opportune that the General Assembly will this week address the Millennium Development Goals. In addition, the discourse will culminate in the High-level review meeting on the Implementation of the MSI / BPOA.
Chair, the Government of Barbados has made significant progress towards the achievement of Goal 7 in terms of water and sanitation systems upgrade, protection of marine and terrestrial ecosystems, phasing out of ozone depleting substances and improved sustainability of human settlements. Barbados is willing to offer technical assistance under a South-South cooperation platform. However we recognise that we still have to conquer a number of other impediments to environmental sustainability.
Of note, the Government of Barbados’ current policy approach to mainstreaming environmental sustainability has been captured in our Medium Term Development Strategy for 2010 to 2014 under the theme Environmental Sustainability: Building the Green Economy". A more long term strategy was elaborated in the National Strategic Plan of Barbados 2006-2025 where Goal Four of the six goals speaks to "Building a Green Economy – Strengthening the Physical Infrastructure and Preserving the Environment".
Barbados has recognized the relevance of the MDGs to pursuing a green economy. Aligning our development strategy along this particular trajectory ensures a consistency not only with our global commitments, but also to our national values and the best interest of all our citizens.
The Green Economy in the Barbadian context has been defined as, and I quote….
"…an integrated production, distribution, consumption, and waste assimilation system that, at its core, reflects the fragility of our small island ecosystems as the basis for natural resource protection policy intervention, business and investment choice, human development programming, and for the facilitation of export market development strategies… "…….
In the pursuit of the Green Economy the Government of Barbados has identified priority actions including:
The sustainable use of Renewable Resources and Strategic Management of our Non- renewable Natural Resources;
Maintenance of a safe, reliable and affordable water supply;
Ensuring an efficient and reliable energy sector;
Development of an efficient transport system and infrastructure;
Improved disaster management especially as it relates to sustainable building design and housing;
Development and maintenance an efficient land-use policy that includes sustainable agricultural production;
The emphasis is now on assessing and strengthening the enabling environment for achieving environmental sustainability in the context of a green economy. In this regard, we must recognise the Government of Barbados’ partnership with the United Nations Environment Programme to Build a Resource Efficient Green Economy in Barbados. This partnership will commence with a Green Economy Scoping Study in October 2010.
The study will rely on quantitative and qualitative economic analysis. It will involve a macro-economic assessment of the potential benefits and challenges of investment in priority economic sectors that offer the largest potential to promote a transition to a Green Economy. It will also propose a set of policy recommendations to address policy and capacity gaps and needs, through specific policy reforms, and programmes. The Study will involve public sector entities as well as civil society institutions including the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Barbados Banking Association, trade unions and the University of the West Indies.
Further, Mr. Chair, as a result of this partnership we have agreed in principle to convene in Barbados, a Caribbean Green Economic Conference in 2011. These substantive discussions with our Regional neighbours on the opportunities, challenges, policy requirements and partnerships will facilitate our goal of achieving sustainable development???? ??in???? ??the???? ??Caribbean???? ??Region.
While we are enthused by our proposed approach I must highlight some glaring challenges that confront us as a small island developing state in our drive to achieve environmental sustainability:
The urgent need to take stock by performing cost benefit analyses of major policies and incentive schemes;
There is a need for Capacity Requirements Analysis within both the Private and Public sectors;
The Principles of Sustainability have to be further mainstreamed into development policy within the various sectors;
We need to engage in accounting for the value of our ecological assets and the contribution they make to macroeconomic development and the quality of life of our people; and finally
There is a critical need to enhance metrics and information systems.
We have identified new opportunities to support the transition to a Green Economy and the achieving of Environmental Sustainability. The following measures have been proposed for action in the short to medium term:
The strengthening of our legislative and regulatory framework for environmental preservation and protection;
The institution of a Resource Efficiency Programme for Micro, Small and Medium enterprises and Clean Technology deployment;
The development of new green financial products;
Policy harmonisation via the National Commission on Sustainable Development;
Embedding Green Economic Indicators in the Social and Economic Reporting Processes; and
The development of dynamic Public Education Campaigns and operationalising of the National Environmental Education Strategy.
As the Government of Barbados noted recently at the Commonwealth Secretariat’s Small States Biennial Conference held at Marlborough House, London, from July 28th to 29th 2010, there are lessons from our experience for other small economies including:
Efficiency of systems, processes and resource use must be our hallmark.
We have to begin to examine our Trade and Investment Policies as a point for intervention.
As Small Island States we have to look at capturing and utilising our intellectual property as the basis for Small State Horizontal Cooperation; and
Wherever possible, Multi-stakeholder Governance mechanisms and new institutional models must be utilised to mobilise the commitment of the entire society towards environmental sustainability.
Based on our experiences to date Chair, emerging from this week long review of sustainability there are areas of focussed intervention, we would wish to see including:
1. Establishing Research and Development as a central plank in our Economic Programmes;
Cleaner Technology harnessing and deployment across a SIDS-SIDS platform, and cooperation with the Development Agencies for technical assistance and financing;
New Financing and Investment modalities perhaps in the context of National pension funds as demonstrated by the Government of Barbados’ diligent use of funding from its National Insurance and Social Security Scheme;
The need for more scholarships in Applied Sciences as well as new programming in current Business Curricula to explore the concepts of green economy and sustainable finance;
A Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Resource Efficiency Knowledge platform. In fact Chair, it is critical that the UNEP locates the discourse on Sustainable Consumption and Production and its relationship to Resource Efficiency as a prerequisite to the achievement of MDG 7;
Financing for Demonstration projects; and last but not least;
Research on the Climate Change impacts of our Supply Chains.
In closing, Chair, the Government of Barbados recognises the efforts by the international community in locating the Green Economy in the context of Agenda 21, and must emphasize, that this Green Economic policy imperative is but an avenue to address the desired goal of achieving Sustainable Development and by extension environmental sustainability.
Thank you Chair.