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Handle SIDS funds better

sidsmeetFinancing for Small Island Developing States is a critical issue, but the way it is presently handled must be addressed.

This call has come from Minister of the Environment and Drainage, Dr. Denis Lowe, who said he also wanted to see the conditions surrounding such funds for SIDS member states improved to make access easier.

He was addressing stakeholders attending the National Validation workshop on the Barbados National Assessment Report to the third International Conference on Small Island Developing States at the Accra Beach Hotel this morning.

“I have been hearing of this Green Climate Fund for at least two world meetings… Barbados is still waiting because we have some climate change challenges that we have to face,” he said, noting that the country was moving ahead to prepare itself in the event of a disaster.

The minister further charged that even when funds were available the “magical hoola hoop” set out as an access road to these funds made it strenuous for SIDS to benefit.

“Access becomes extremely difficult… Sometimes it is best to make the sign of the cross and lay down. We can’t fool ourselves,” Lowe stated, noting that today’s meeting was about frank and open discussions on the way forward.

He stressed that the reality was that the financing issue was an important one, and one where movement needed to be seen.

Lowe added he did not wish to attend the … conference in Samoa in September 2014 and return empty handed with just his passion, his views and frustrations. “We have to come back with results. It is becoming habitual to go to these big conferences and come back home and ask what happened. It is the same story, the same language, the same parade of global leaders…, but no results,” he indicated.

During his address, the minister suggested that there may be a role for our regional development financial institutions in building a simplified, integrated, online, and real time knowledge hub on climate and sustainable development finance funds and programmes.

He added that it was up to the SIDS-member states to consider how they were going to upgrade and accelerate the voice of the Caribbean civil society and major groups on the post Rio institutional framework for sustainable development including the evolving areas of international environmental governance.

“The Government of Barbados remains committed to the principles of good governance and participation, [and] as such we encourage local civil society institutions to advocate, as well as play a part in setting and attaining our national sustainable development priorities,” Lowe said.

He noted that for too long civil society had been relegated to a side seat at these major conferences.

“Civil society is us. I frown on the fact that [when] you go to a major conference of the United Nations, civil society groups are relegated to the back seat and given a minimum amount of time to express their views, when they really are the people in the trenches in the societies that we need to hear from,” he said.

The minister also called on the United Nations system and international partners to explore ways to cooperate in supporting and financing the establishment of national and regional annual major group consultations in the Caribbean and other SIDS regions.

However, he made it clear that industrialised countries were responsible for the state of SIDS countries because of their practices, and should, therefore, be in the forefront to assist with correcting some of the dangers encountered as a result.

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