Premier and Minister of Finance of the Virgin Islands, Honourable Andrew A. Fahie, chaired a High-Level Panel on ‘Challenges for Caribbean to Building Back Better from COVID-19’ at the virtually held 38th Session of the United Nations (UN) Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), October 26-28, 2020.
Premier Fahie chaired the meeting in his capacity as Vice Chair of the Caribbean Development and Cooperation Committee (CDCC) and stated that the COVID-19 pandemic has generated a new sense of urgency to address holistically the challenges faced by the heavily indebted middle-income countries of the sub-region already suffering from high exposure to natural disasters and climate change.
The Premier said, “Rarely do we get an opportunity such as these urgent circumstances present to demonstrate the complex, multidimensional nature of Caribbean challenges and vulnerabilities and to advocate for a uniquely blended response to ensure the survival of the countries of the sub-region during these very challenging times.”
The high-level meeting on October 27 began with the official launch of the new ECLAC publication, ‘The Caribbean Outlook 2020,’ which was presented by the organisation’s Executive Secretary Alicia Barcena, who is the regional commission’s highest official. Madam Barcena outlined the findings of the report on the impact of COVID-19 on the Caribbean and solutions for recovery and longer-term sustainable development.
The panelists also made statements in their respective capacities, including remarks by Prime Minister and Minister of Finance of Saint Lucia Honourable Allen Chastanet, State Minister in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade of Jamaica Senator the Honourable Leslie Campbell, UN Special Envoy on Financing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Mr. Mahmoud Mohieldin, Assistant Secretary-General for the Climate Action Team of the UN Mr. Selwyn Hart, Assistant Secretary-General for Trade and Economic Integration of CARICOM Mr. Joseph Cox and Vice Chancellor of the University of the West Indies Sir Hillary Beckles.
In response to the views expressed by the panel, official statements at Ministerial and official levels were made on the floor of the meeting by Aruba, Barbados, Canada, Cuba, Mexico and Suriname.
Speaking on the outcome of the meeting, Premier Fahie said, “We had very fruitful discussions on the Caribbean’s long road to recovery from COVID-19. I am very pleased that there is strong support for the sub region both within ECLAC and at the level of the UN Secretary General Mr. Antonio Gutierrez. I will continue to do my part in bringing greater international attention to the region’s current challenges in my capacity as a Vice Chair of CDCC.”
The BVI delegation to the 38th Session of UN ECLAC included Premier and Minister of Finance Honourable Andrew A. Fahie, Permanent Secretary in the Premier’s Office Dr. Carolyn O’Neal-Morton, Deputy Secretary in the Premier’s Office Mrs. Elvia Smith-Maduro, Director of the International Affairs Secretariat Ms. Najan Christopher, Assistant Secretary for External Affairs Ms. Dwynel Davis and Special Envoy of the Premier Mr. Benito Wheatley.