Minister of the Environment, Dr. Denis Lowe, confers with Assistant Secretary General of the United Nations and Executive Coordinator of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), Elizabeth Thompson, during the opening ceremony. At right is UNDP Resident Representative in Barbados, Michelle Gyles-McDonnough. (C. Pitt/BGIS)

Two decades since the historic Rio Summit, a Government Minister has charged that???? the notion of the island paradise has morphed into an island paradox. And, against this backdrop, is urging Small Island Developing States (SIDS) to unite to secure their respective futures.

Speaking at the opening?? of?? a Rio + 20 SIDS?? Informal Ministerial Meeting at Hilton Barbados?? today, Minister of the Environment,?? Dr. Denis Lowe, said?? while?? Gross Domestic Product statistics classified most Caribbean States as middle-income countries thus warranting???? little development assistance, the reality portrayed a different tale.

According to Dr. Lowe, the reality for SIDS involves growing fiscal deficits, increasing debt burdens and increased inflation, resulting in higher cost of living which translated into increased poverty. This, he maintained, was in the context of a world where inequity and inequality were "painfully evident," and a global space where "racism and discrimination are pressing obstacles in the way of countries as they journey towards sustainable development."

"Colleagues, the crisis nexus that we find ourselves in at this present time demands that we stop looking for that moment, that we stop looking towards others and recognise that we, ourselves, must create that moment. We as SIDS have to determine our own destiny, write our own history and build our own pathways. Of course, we will need some help. However, let us set the stones in place that will secure our foundation as we build our future," Minister Lowe challenged.

Dr. Lowe, who chaired the Informal Meeting, further told delegates that the region’s process of development had brought with it unprecedented consumption and waste generation rates similar to some of our developed neighbours to the north.

"This renders us more vulnerable and represents an ever present threat to our economic, social and environmental resilience at an alarming rate," he warned.

In reflecting on forerunner events, Minister Lowe noted that recognition of the inherent vulnerabilities of SIDS led the international community in 1992 to acknowledge SIDS in Agenda 21 as a special case for environmental development. This, he recalled, subsequently led to the first United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development which was held here in Barbados and resulted in the adoption of the Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of the SIDS, commonly referred to as the Barbados Programme of Action (BPOA).

"As we meet here in Barbados at the dawn of Rio 2012, and as we prepare for this most important conference, let us be true to ourselves and ask whether we have done justice to the implementation of the BPOA at the national, regional and international levels. Let us further probe what it is we wish to gain as SIDS from Rio 2012 to further enhance the implementation of the BPOA and the Mauritius Strategy," he concluded.


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