Some 16 years after Barbados’ staging of the historic Global Conference on the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States (SIDS), the international community is again being chided for the lack of meaningful support to SIDS.

The reproach has come from Minister of the Environment, Dr. Denis Lowe, who has deemed it disconcerting that years later, despite deteriorating circumstances, "the unique and particular vulnerability of SIDS" was still being challenged by some.

"Despite the recognition that SIDS are a special case for development considerations, Barbados remains deeply concerned that this is not taken into account when considering our developmental, financial and trade needs," Minister Lowe told delegates attending a roundtable discussion on the topic ???Enhancing International Support for SIDS’.?? It was held at a special United Nations General Assembly session in New York over the weekend.

Minister Lowe ??told the high-level meeting, the five-year Review of the?? Barbados Programme of Action ??and Mauritius Strategy of Implementation ??had shown that?? even with international recognition of the special case of SIDS, ??the level of international financial support had been disappointing. He also made an urgent appeal for enhanced participation in decision-making processes.??

??"The implementation gap will not be closed by words, but rather by actions taken at fora such as these, and, more importantly, in other fora where decisions related to our economic and financial viability and survival are taken.?? SIDS remain on the periphery of norm-setting and decision-making arenas where issues of critical importance to our economies are decided.

"It is, therefore, critical that the voice and participation of SIDS be enhanced at the international level and that limited membership groupings do not unfairly target important areas of activity for our economies," the Environment Minister underlined.

Minister Lowe told participants that?? trade represented an important means for promoting sustainable development and building resilience in SIDS, and allowed local fishers, small agro-processors, port workers, chefs, trade unions and local cooperative credit unions to feel a part of the global economy.

"In this regard, Barbados calls for meaningful progress on the small vulnerable economies’ work programme in the WTO (World Trade Organisation)," he asserted.

Noting that most Caribbean SIDS, by virtue of their per capita income, were categorised as middle income countries, Dr. Lowe said this precluded them from accessing concessionary financing, and resulted in their dependence on expensive financing from the international financial institutions. This, he maintained, exacerbated already unsustainable levels of foreign debt, and increased vulnerability.

"If this matter is not urgently addressed by the international community, CARICOM SIDS will not be able to meet their sustainable development goals. We do not want to return to a situation where our economies are dependent on unpredictable capital or conditions similar to forced labour. Therefore, we urge the international community to partner with us in strengthening our absorptive capacity and our productive systems," Minister Lowe implored.

The Environment head assured those present that Barbados remained committed to continuing the struggle for the survival of SIDS.

??"We are determined to ensure that all hands are on deck in this regard, and we shall be decisive in ensuring that by 2014 the rate of implementation (of the Barbados Programme of Action) would have significantly increased," he pledged.??

The Ministry of the Environment has responsibility for the monitoring of the Barbados Programme of Action, which emanated from Barbados’ hosting of the 1994 Global Conference. ??Barbados has finalised its National Assessment Report, as part of the Five-year Review Process, which includes the Mauritius Strategy of Implementation.

The 65th UNGA session saw participation from Heads of State, Governments and delegations, Member States, UN agencies and non-state actors such as Civil Society, Women, Youth and Labour.??

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