Opening Of Meeting And Opening Remarks By Premier And Minister Of Finance The Honourable Andrew A. Fahie At The High-Level Meeting




His Excellency, Christian Guillermet-Fernández, Deputy Minister for Multilateral Affairs in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Worship of Costa Rica in his capacity as Chair of ECLAC.

Her Excellency, Alicia Barcena, Executive Secretary of ECLAC

Heads of Government

Honourable Ministers


Distinguished delegates

Ladies and gentleman,

Good morning.

I declare open the High-Level Meeting on the Challenges Faced by the Associate Members of ECLAC in the Implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

It is an honour and privilege to chair this meeting in my capacity as Vice Chair of the Caribbean Development and Cooperation Committee (CDCC) in which the British Virgin Islands sits as a member of the Bureau. I am very pleased that the Associate Members of ECLAC represented today are Anguilla, Aruba, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Curaçao, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Montserrat, Puerto Rico, Turks & Caicos Islands and the US Virgin Islands.

We will follow the order of the programme as presented and proceed with opening statements. I will begin.

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, this is indeed a special occasion. This meeting is a decisive milestone marking ECLAC’s renewed engagement with its Associate Members and the tremendous efforts of Costa Rica as the current Chair of ECLAC to deepen the inclusion and participation of the Associate Members in the sustainable development of Latin America and the Caribbean.

The 14 Associate Members are an integral part of ECLAC that share historical and cultural ties with the region. They also share many social and economic linkages with their regional neighbours, and face the same risks from climate change such as powerful hurricanes, excessive rainfall, flooding, sea level rise and the loss of marine biodiversity. The Associate Members’ involvement in ECLAC is meant to help strengthen the resilience of their societies through support measures and participation in the regional processes designed to help achieve greater economic and social development. They also have an important role to play in supporting the development of Latin America and the Caribbean by sharing with regional partners their knowledge, expertise and successes in key sectors such as tourism, financial services, health and disaster management.

For these reasons, I am very pleased that we are focused today on the Associate Members’ challenges in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. In 2015, it was universally agreed that the 17 Sustainable Development Goals will serve as the minimum standard to which every society should aspire for the benefit of their people and the sustainability of the planet. The Associate Members of ECLAC as a special group of primarily Small Island Developing States in the Caribbean are making genuine efforts to achieve sustainable development. However, they share common challenges that require attention and support in order to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. Critical factors in the sustainable development process such as administrative capacity, policy expertise, technology transfer and financial resources are all areas in which Associate Members would benefit from more support. These challenges are now compounded by the pressure on Governments to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and climate emergency.

We cannot deny that COVID-19 has been a setback to the 2030 Agenda. However, I firmly believe that this is the time to strengthen our resolve and to work even harder to defeat the pandemic and promote sustainable development and green growth.

I am very pleased that the UN system has included Associate Members in its response to the COVID-19 crisis, especially the Multi-Country Response Plans that have been rolled out across the region. At the international level, our dear friend Alicia Barcena, and her ECLAC team, have made every effort to include Associate Members in the international fora on the global economic and social response to the pandemic. Simultaneously, Costa Rica as the Chair of ECLAC has gone to great lengths to ensure the full inclusion and participation of Associate Members at the Fourth Meeting of the Forum of the Countries of Latin America and the Caribbean on Sustainable Development that formally begins tomorrow. Of course, both the Chair and the Executive Secretary gave their full support to our current meeting which is taking place on the eve of the Forum. I am personally grateful and say thank you. I know that you are doing everything in your power to deliver on the UN’s pledge to ‘leave no one behind.’

I want to acknowledge the many other development partners present from within the UN system that are observing these proceedings. I also want to acknowledge the regional organisations participating today, including CARICOM, OECS and the Association of Caribbean States. They are also essential partners in helping to address the Associate Members’ challenges in implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

As we begin our deliberations, I want to emphasise that this meeting is an important opportunity for the Associate Members of ECLAC to reflect as a group on our shared needs and common aspirations in advance of the Forum. Notably, the Forum will take stock of the region’s progress on the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. It will also consider the most effective strategies to ensure that we weather the impact of COVID-19 and are repositioned to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. The Associate Members are a part of the region whose inclusion will help to provide a more complete picture of sustainable development in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, I look forward to your active participation today and your contributions to our deliberations.  It is my hope that our dialogue will help to accelerate the mainstreaming of the Associate Members into the regional framework for sustainable development.

I thank you.

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