Prime Minister Freundel Stuart and Cabinet colleague, Minister of the Environment, Dr. Lowe, with members of the Barbados Team to the Rio+20 Summit, putting their heads together last night to fine-tune a document for presentation to the conference. (C. Pitt/BGIS)

Expectations are running high, that by the time the curtain comes down on Rio+ 20 on Friday night, world leaders would have chartered a way forward for the planet that ensures, that as far as is humanly possible, an ecologically sound and environmentally realistic path is designed.

That is the prospect Barbados’ Prime Minister, Freundel Stuart, holds for the much touted United Nations (UN) Summit on Sustainable Development which began in earnest today.

And, according to him, such an outcome could only be realised if concrete proposals, advanced by key committees that have been working behind the scenes, were adopted and seriously implemented within specific timeframes. "Time is running out on us, if we do not act and act quickly," he cautioned.

The Prime Minister is heading the Barbados delegation to the global summit, that also includes Minister of the Environment, Dr. Dennis Lowe, and key government technocrats, to what he termed "a meeting that holds much significance for the future of mankind and his survival."

However, before the final declaration is worked out and issued, observance of the usual formalities that precede such conferences will get under way this evening in a ceremony that officials in Rio de Janeiro estimate will attract many thousands. These will include over 130 world leaders from the developed and developing world; representatives of UN agencies, private foundations, non-government organisations (NGOs), think tanks, environmentalists, conservationists, and private individuals who have been championing the relevant issues over the years.

There is also a strong press presence, with conference officials noting that well over a thousand media workers are covering the summit.

Indeed, with much sought after accommodation, stretching from beyond the scenic Copacabana Beach strip to the conference facility several miles away at Barra-da-Tijuca, rental rooms are at a premium.

One group that has been working quietly behind the scenes, but assiduously nevertheless, is ???Team Barbados’ that comprises officials of the Ministries of the Environment, Foreign Affairs?? and the Prime Minister’s Office, led by Selwin Hart, Counselor with the Permanent Mission of Barbados to the UN, and Senior Environmental Officer with the Environment Division, Travis Sinckler.

This group has been hard at work hammering out positions on crucial environmental matters on behalf of the Small Island Developing States (SIDS). Of particular interest are the issues of Climate Change and how it impacts our coastal areas; Greater Environmental Awareness; Oceans and their management requirements; the Reality of a Green Economy; and overall, putting in place an Institutional Framework for Sustainable Development, and what will drive such an initiative..

The Prime Minister pointed out that, from its work in recent years," Barbados is already being seen as a model and a leader in advocating a real paradigm shift towards the development of a green economy. We, are, therefore, working in concert with those international bodies and like-minded countries to achieve this state and garner global acceptance over time

"There are many challenges that we have to tackle and meet head-on, if we are to ensure that our children and future generations are left a world free of pollutants and physical irritants that only serve to inhibit and deleteriously impact our space and development," Mr. Stuart stressed.

Prime Minister Stuart, himself, has been in the vanguard in advocating a green economy, as well as the protection and sensible management of the oceans. He was a member of the UN Secretary General’s High Level Panel on Global Sustainability that was charged with the responsibility of finding new ways and approaches to operationalize sustainable development.

Over the last two days, while in Rio, the Prime Minister and the Minister of the Environment have been working with ???Team Barbados’ and regional and international partners to finalise a common position on a number of matters that should assure a successful Rio+20 conference.

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