Barbados has already started celebrations in recognition of the first United Nations International Year of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) 2014.

Environmental Education Officer in the Ministry of the Environment and Drainage, Donna King-Brathwaite, made this disclosure yesterday during the final day of a three-day high-level SIDS Inter-Regional Preparatory Meeting at Hilton Barbados.

She explained that Barbados, through its activities, was already engaged in celebrating the International Year of SIDS. She said that the country???s annual celebrations of Environment Month in June were designed to bring issues of the oceans and land degradation, into focus, and would, therefore, contribute to what was built into the celebrations.

Mrs. King-Brathwaite added that in keeping with its celebrations in June, the Ministry, through the media, had already begun to sensitise the public and stakeholders about the activities they wished to be involved in for next year???s celebrations.

She explained that those discussions involved promoting sustainable development for education and streamlining sustainable development into the school curriculum, particularly at the secondary level.

In addition, she said the Ministry also engaged poets and writers, where they were encouraged to create stories and poems to celebrate the uniqueness of Barbados, and present them to the public.

???We are also engaging various communities where they can do community-based projects that celebrate SIDS and also bring some awareness to the environmental issues that we face,??? Mrs. King-Brathwaite said.

The Environmental Education Officer pointed out that one of the Ministry???s success stories looked at sustainable resource management in one of the island???s fishing villages. ???They have taken the role of looking at the importance of fisheries to the fishing development of that community as well as some of the conservation and preservation issues that they are facing, [to see] how to address them,??? she noted.

Mrs. King-Brathwaite stressed that such projects would be among Barbados??? highlights during next year???s International Year of SIDS celebrations.

She added that Barbados had also endorsed the regional approach to the celebrations, and was looking at culture as one of the main areas to promote the celebration year.

She stressed that the region???s diverse culture could go unnoticed in the celebrations next year and must, therefore, be brought to the forefront. ???In Barbados??? plan of action, culture and the unique cultures of SIDS have already been highlighted,??? she stated.

Describing next year???s celebrations as ???a very important page in the book of history on Small Island Developing States???, Minister of the Environment and Drainage, Dr. Denis Lowe, underlined that Barbados??? start did not mean the country no longer required assistance in maintaining its enthusiasm relative to sharing.

He said he believed there would be a decentralised process employed to enable SIDS states to get the necessary support needed to participate in the celebrations. ???I encourage all Member States to get on board and get your programmes going, and where there is a need for help, let us call for help and call loudly and get some support,??? he urged.

The Minister also encouraged countries with successful programmes to share them with others to avoid duplication. He pointed out that there needed to be a consistent sharing process where Member States could share their information.

???We [Barbados] are focussing on secondary schools to get the message out there and have them [the youth] carry the message. We believe that is a way of carrying life and longevity to the efforts that we are putting in place, and we, therefore, encourage all distinguished delegates to continue to work on this celebration year,??? Dr. Lowe told delegates.

He added that the senitisation of the island???s population was important for generations to come, because they would be able to draw reference from work done, and the success stories across the group of nations.

???So, therefore, I believe that each Member State needs to take on board in a very serious way what approach they would adopt going forward in trying to magnify the whole process of celebration for Small Island Developing States,??? he said.

Dr. Lowe warned delegates against ???back benching??? the significance of what they were doing in light of what was happening around them. ???We are collectively engineering a process that would result in the survivability of each state, and, therefore, when we think of what we are going to do individually, we still have to think about the collective message and the collective activity,??? Dr. Lowe stated.

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