Prime Minister Freundel Stuart says it is important that leaders of Small Island Developing States attend the upcoming Third International UN SIDS Conference in Samoa.

Speaking ahead of his departure for the September 1 to 4 meeting, Mr. Stuart stated: ???We need to be a part of the conversation in Samoa. We cannot stay at home. We must go and articulate our own case. We cannot afford to leave the putting of our case to others who may not put it as forcefully as we can.???

Stressing that the Caribbean Governments view the conference as extremely important, he disclosed that there would be participation at the Prime Ministerial and ministerial levels, as well as by the Secretary General of CARICOM.

The Prime Minister noted that SIDS had made significant efforts at the national and regional levels to implement the Barbados Programme of Action (BPOA) and the Mauritius Strategy for the Further Implementation (MSI) of the BPOA.

???We have mainstreamed sustainable development principles into national development policies and undertaken political commitments to promote and raise awareness of the importance of sustainable development issues,??? he explained.

He said it would be easy for the realities of island nations to get overlooked amidst the economic challenges facing countries and the international community at this time. But he stressed that this ???is a once-in-a-decade opportunity to have our challenges, capabilities and decisions clearly outlined for all to understand???.

According to him, so important is the SIDS conference, that national and regional preparatory meetings were held leading up to it. He noted that an Interregional Preparatory Meeting which attracted delegates from the three SIDS regions was held in Barbados last year and the main elements of the current Samoan Pathway Outcome Document were formulated.

???This document represents a significant achievement for SIDS in preparation for the formal negotiating process with international partners, ahead of the conference,??? Mr. Stuart observed.

The SIDS conference is structured around several strategic and political dialogues, including forums dedicated to youth, major groups, renewable energy and the private sector. In addition to plenary sessions, there will be multi-stakeholder partnership dialogues, side events, parallel events and a SIDS Village.

The main topics at the conference will be Sustainable Economic Development; Climate Change and Disaster Risk Management; Social Development, Health and Non-Communicable Diseases, Youth and Gender; Sustainable Energy; Oceans, Seas and Biodiversity; Water and Sanitation, Food Security and Waste Management.

The first global conference on SIDS was held in Barbados in 1994 and the BPOA was adopted as the starting point of all action to support the cause of SIDS.Mr. Stuart pointed out that in the international community, Barbados is associated with promoting the interests of SIDS and suggested that this could be considered a foreign policy brand for the country.

???Barbados has a vested interest in the outcome of this meeting and will use every opportunity to make the point about matters like debt sustainability, graduation, and the vulnerabilities of SIDS,??? he promised.

The SIDS grouping is made up of three distinct geographic regions ??? the Caribbean; the Pacific; and the African, Indian Ocean, Mediterranean and South China Seas.

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