It is indeed a distinct privilege to congratulate His Excellency, Sam Kutesa on behalf of the Government and people of Barbados on his election as President of this 69th Session of the United Nations General Assembly. It is appropriate that I commend, also, your predecessor H.E. Mr. John Ashe for the aplomb with which he guided the deliberations of the General Assembly in the 68th Session.
The theme of this year???s Assembly- ???Delivering On and Implementing a Post-2015 Development Agenda???- is both timely and critical. Fourteen years ago, world leaders placed the Millennium Development Goals, a set of time-bound and measurable goals and targets, at the heart of the global development agenda. Today, we stand on the cusp of the unveiling of a future global agenda for development. This must be an ambitious, long-term project to improve peoples??? lives and protect the planet for future generations. The seventeen goals and targets proposed by the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals must form the main basis for the elaboration of the post-2015 development agenda. This is especially so if we are to create a truly transformative global programme anchored in the three dimensions of sustainable development, with poverty eradication as its central objective and overarching goal.
Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and Middle Income Countries
The special vulnerabilities faced by small island developing states and which serve to constrain our development are well known. As such, the international community recognised SIDS as a special case in sustainable development in Agenda 21. A recognition that is echoed in the Barbados Programme of Action; the Mauritius Strategy; the Outcome Document of Rio + 20; and most recently, the Small Island Developing States Accelerated Modalities of Action or SAMOA Pathway.
Despite this recognition, the Rio +20 Outcome document indicated that ???SIDS have made less progress than most other groupings, or even regressed, in economic terms, especially in terms of poverty reduction and debt sustainability.??? This finding was repeated in the SAMOA Pathway. The International Monetary Fund has also acknowledged that in the last 10 years, SIDS have slid down the ladder of progress.
In design, delivery and implementation, therefore, the Post-2015 Development Agenda must as a priority address the unique and particular vulnerabilities and challenges of Small Island Developing States. It must foster the resilience of SIDS as a key objective of global efforts. A development agenda which ignores the integration of SIDS-specific issues would be incomplete and of questionable validity.
The Post-2015 Development Agenda must also make provision for countries like Barbados which is both a Small Island Developing State and a Highly-Indebted Middle Income Country. We continue to suffer the devastating impacts of the global economic and financial crisis, and have limited scope, capacity, fiscal flexibility or policy space to respond effectively to them. We face declining export demand, decreased investment, and a contraction in services upon which our economy is dependent, such as tourism. Fiscal and financial stresses have forced us to make significant adjustments to our expenditure programmes. Against this backdrop, we face the daunting challenge of continuing to provide adequate social safety nets for the most vulnerable of our citizens in a responsible and sustainable manner.??
Debt servicing and debt unsustainability far too easily undermine the advances we desire to make towards our sustainable development.??
Too often the plight of Middle Income Countries is overlooked on the presumption that by virtue of our GDP per capita we do not require international assistance. Barbados emphatically restates, Madame President, that GDP per capita cannot be the sole defining criterion for accessing concessionary financing. The social, economic and environmental vulnerability of countries such as ours must be taken into account.??
Barbados is therefore pleased to see that the 2014 Human Development Report – Sustaining Human Progress: Reducing Vulnerabilities and Building Resilience, incorporates the concept of vulnerability and places emphasis on strengthening the resilience of people, communities, and countries. It is our hope that these factors will give a more accurate picture of the challenges which developing countries face.
On this issue, the Prime Minister of Barbados, the Right Honourable Freundel Stuart, Q.C., M.P., stated in his address at the Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States that ???the time has come for new approaches to be designed to assist middle income countries which have been graduated from access to concessional resources???. I echo this call today. I implore the international community to address the needs of Middle Income Countries in the elaboration of a Post-2015 Development Agenda. Accordingly, Barbados welcomes the International Conference on Financing for Development to be held in Addis Ababa in July next year. The outcome of this conference must make provision for the special needs of SIDS and Middle Income Countries.
Barbados is fully cognisant of the responsibility which developing countries themselves bear towards achieving their development goals. However, the reality is that in seeking to meet these goals, they do soon an uneven playing field. The global financial and economic system, and the governance process that accompanies it, continue to operate in an exclusionary manner. Barbados reiterates its call for a more transparent architecture that is supportive of development objectives.??
The Green Economy Model and Climate Change
Barbados has developed and implemented a cross-sectoral Green Economy Initiative which is predicated on the fragility of our small island ecosystems. The Initiative prioritises natural resource protection policy intervention; business and investment choice; human development programming; and the facilitation of export market development strategies.
Barbados continues to partner with UNEP and more recently, UNIDO, to promote a transition to a resource efficient green economy. We have taken action to enact a series of incentives in support of renewable energy and energy efficiency.
Our efforts to transition to a green economy will be undone if the international community does not take immediate and urgent action to address climate change. The most recent findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change underscore, yet again, the vulnerability of SIDS, particularly to the effects of climate change, sea-level rise, ocean acidification and extreme weather events. These together represent an existential threat to SIDS. We therefore urge the major carbon emitters to take all necessary actions.
Barbados welcomed the Secretary-General???s Climate Summit held here at the United Nations on September 23rd. We hope the momentum from the Summit will inject urgency into the proceedings of the upcoming COP20 in Lima this December. We also hope that beyond COP20 it will ultimately galvanise political will to conclude the negotiation of an ambitious, legally binding international climate agreement in Paris in 2015.
If SIDS are to have an impact internationally, particularly at this crucial moment during the design and construction of a new global architecture for sustainable development, we must ensure that our voices are heard. We must be guided by the concept of a “SIDS Collectivity” which recognises fortitudo in unit??te (strength in unity). We SIDS must speak with one voice at the international level.
Means of Implementation
Any discussion of the creation of a new global sustainable development agenda must have at its core the Means of Implementation. Indeed, Means of Implementation must be the foundation on which the agenda is based. We know that MDG 8, the global partnership for development, remains one of the least fulfilled of all of the Millennium Development Goals. The international community can therefore ill afford to let the new development agenda fail due to lack of adequate and reliable means to implement it.??
Means of Implementation must encompass far more than financing. As we use this 69th session to complete the framework of the post-2015 development agenda, it is incumbent upon us to ensure that definitive and durable partnerships are made to facilitate:
– Firstly, the provision of adequate financial and other resources;??
– Secondly, fair trade and market access; and
– Thirdly, technology transfer and capacity building, particularly in the area of data collection and statistical analysis.
International Peace and Security
My country sees peace and security as enablers and indicators of sustainable development. They constitute indispensable prerequisites for human, social and economic development, as well as progress and prosperity. Barbados therefore views the continuing crises and armed conflicts – including in the Central African Republic, South Sudan, Syria, Iraq and Ukraine – with grave concern. Indeed, we view them with grave alarm. Armed non-state actors and terrorist groups continue to destroy lives, destabilise nations and threaten national and international peace and security.??
In the face of hostilities and blatant acts of aggression, the Security Council has been paralysed. Barbados will continue to be actively engaged, within CARICOM, in negotiations on the reform of the Security Council. We applaud Ambassador Ashe, the former President of the General Assembly, for his initiative to move discussions on this issue forward. We also welcome the summary of the Inter-Governmental negotiations as prepared by the Chair. Barbados calls on all Member States to work assiduously during this session to make substantial progress on, if not finalise, the decades??? long project of Security Council Reform.
My country reiterates its commitment to democracy and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. We welcome discussions which will take place during this Session on the Responsibility to Protect. Our position is motivated by principle and objectivity and we have no desire to see this issue politicised.
The Ebola outbreak constitutes a public health emergency of international concern and a threat to global security. It also threatens the peacebuilding and development gains of the most affected countries. It is our sincere hope that the resolutions adopted two weeks ago by the UN Security Council and the General Assembly will accelerate the mobilisation of resources to assist the affected countries, and halt the epidemic.
Barbados has long supported a negotiated two-state solution to the question of Palestine, the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, and to live in peace and security in a Palestinian state within pre-1967 borders. Barbados??? position is that the State of Israel has a right to exist and the people of Israel have a right to live in security and to do so with the full and undisputed recognition of the rest of the world. The Palestinians are also entitled to enjoy the fruits of prosperity within their own sovereign state.
This year???s unprecedented escalation of the crisis in Palestine revealed, yet again, the urgent need to reach a durable, negotiated solution, and we call on all parties to rededicate themselves to achieving this aim.
The long-standing economic embargo on Cuba continues to be of serious concern to Barbados. The Government of Cuba has always demonstrated a willingness to assist the Caribbean, and indeed the developing world, in our quest for development. We join with the overwhelming majority of the United Nations Member States in opposing this unilateral action and look forward to a time soon when it will be relegated to the pages of history.
In closing, Barbados believes that there is an inextricable link between development and international peace and security. As we stated in 1993, within the context of an Agenda for Peace, ???where access to food, clothing, shelter, education, health and the opportunity for gainful employment is denied, democracy cannot flourish???. We also hold the converse to be true. There can be no real development without respect for human rights, the rule of law and democracy.
We hope that much of the time and energy of this body, in this 69th session, will be spent on delivering a Post-2015 Development Agenda that will redound to the benefit of all of us.
Barbados will continue to be in the vanguard of this effort.
Madame President, I thank you.