Prime Minister Freundel Stuart has urged those participating in the small island developing states (SIDS) three-day Inter-Regional Preparatory Meeting, currently being held in Barbados, to critically re-visit some of the fundamental principles which provided the basis for bringing that group together.
Mr. Stuart made the call today while delivering the feature address at the opening of the meeting which is being held at Hilton Barbados.
He said that while the sustainable development concept was accepted by the international community, it was not easily seen as a reality in the day-to-day, on???the-ground activities in the lives of citizens in developing states.
???One reason for that is the reality that sustainable development policy dividends are long-term and often intergenerational, as opposed to the political, social and economic challenges which often have immediate impacts and short-term implications for our citizens. For this very reason, as SIDS, we seem to be creeping along with some common gaps and challenges continuing to follow us, from Barbados [in 1994] to Mauritius [in 2004] and again as we get ready for Samoa [in 2014],??? he stated.
The Prime Minister stressed that SIDS economies were highly exposed to economic shocks as a result of their heavy dependence on a few markets and the erosion of trade preferences within these markets. ??According to him, SIDS are classified as being among the most trade-open economies in the world, typified by strong dependence on a narrow range of exports and high import content, and he listed them as including food and fuel.
Mr. Stuart pointed out that a large part of the future of small island developing states depended on the sustainable use of their oceans. ???It is of tremendous concern to us that this important source of livelihood and food security continues to be threatened by pollution, habitat loss and alteration, overexploitation, invasive alien species, oceanic acidification, natural disasters and climate change,??? he lamented.
The Prime Minister added that in the area of health, the burden of coping with chronic non-communicable diseases was posing a great challenge to the national budgets of SIDS and to their human resource capacity.
The conference has attracted over 200 delegates.