An insight into the newly-formed Social Justice Committee is what Resident Coordinator with the United Nations (UN) system in Barbados and the OECS, Didier Trebucq, received when he met recently with Minister of Labour and Social Partnership Relations, Colin Jordan, at the Warren’s Office Complex.
Mr. Trebucq, in applauding the initiative, said he was “truly impressed” and wanted to learn more about the committee as it was worthy of replication.
“It is a big achievement and a good approach; it is really a model for the Caribbean,” he said while noting it was seeking to tackle issues that were high on the UN’s agenda.
Minister Jordan outlined the structure of the committee, pointing out it was an expansion of the Social Partnership which had worked well since the 1990s, but in an effort to address issues other than economic ones, input from a larger number of sectors was sought.
He revealed that while the Social Partnership included Government, business and workers’ representatives, the Social Justice Committee brought with it women’s organizations, faith-based organizations, the LGBT community, the cooperative sector, and non-governmental organizations, among others.
Elaborating further, he said: “We wanted to create for the Social Justice Committee an image on its own and a focus on social justice, especially for the most vulnerable. Also, after the initial Cabinet approval, we would have added representation from the University of the West Indies, specifically from the Gender and Development unit. We also got approval from Cabinet to have one person to represent a vulnerable urban community and another for a vulnerable rural community. It was necessary to be able to have somebody who is living the reality to be part of the discussion.”
The committee, he added, would report to Cabinet twice yearly as well as the Social Partnership periodically, and would examine, among others, issues of poverty alleviation, vulnerability, discrimination, safety and security, access to education and health care and social protection.
Mr. Jordan also noted that with the Third Sector working to uplift and alleviate circumstances for others, Committee members could help focus on the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Meanwhile, Mr. Trebucq, in pointing out the myriad ways the UN could aid Barbados in achieving the SDGs, said since January, the organization had been undergoing major reforms that stood to benefit agencies here and in the region.
He said of the new UN position he held: “My role is basically with the reform because that’s the final objective, to make sure that we serve countries better in the implementation of the SDGs for the sustainable development pathway. Also, that we work in a more coordinated and coherent manner, achieving different types of partnerships and pulling our services together because basically since the adoption of the Agenda 2030, we have to walk the walk…. Sustainable Development is crosscutting.”
He also noted the UN stood ready to aid Barbados with reporting issues and added there would be an opportunity for the island to report its progress towards the SDGs in July 2020 or 2021, in Geneva and a UN team, tasked with supporting the region, would aid Barbados in identifying gaps while offering policy support for the implementation of the SDGs.
Minister Jordan welcomed the support, stating that among the several concerns of Government was the notion of protecting the vulnerable against the devastating effects of climate change and ensuring social justice.