St. Kitts and Nevis and other Caribbean Member States were in a pivotal position during the 196th session of the UNESCO Executive Board held in Paris recently. They were instrumental in securing a consensus and tabling a Draft Resolution calling for a robust UNESCO Action Plan for future activities in small island developing states (SIDS).
As one of the Executive Board agenda items for discussion and ratification at its 196th session held over 8-25 April, St. Kitts and Nevis representatives lead the debate on the ‘Report on the outcomes of the Third International Conference on SIDS and proposed follow-up action within the Organization’s programme and budget 2014-2017′.
Backed by some 38 UNESCO Member States, embracing most of the SIDS members, the USA, U.K., France, Spain, China, El Salvador and Ecuador, the Draft Resolution called for a more focused and results-orientated role for this UN specialised agency in contributing to the identification of priorities for the sustainable development of SIDS in the elaboration of the post-2015 development agenda.
Special reference was made to the formulation of sustainable development goals and actions with respect to, inter alia, inclusive and equitable quality education and life-long learning, climate change, oceans and coastal zone management, freshwater, youth and gender, social and cultural well-being, building knowledge societies, ICT.
The Resolution, which was approved unanimously by the 38 states, underlined the need for improved disclosure of the key SIDS programmes and activities earmarked for the small island members to UNESCO and the “funding gap” that needed to be filled with extra-budgetary funds to accomplish the ambitious UNESCO Action Plan.
The Plan covers activities under five critical themes, notably, enhancing island capacities to achieve sustainable development through education, strengthening SIDS reliance towards environment, ocean, freshwater and natural resources sustainability and increasing connectivity, information management and knowledge sharing.
The SKN delegation lead the debate, and elaborated that it seized this opportunity to run with the deliberations falling out the 3rd International SIDS Conference held in Samoa last September. Dr David Doyle, who is the Ambassador of St. Kitts-Nevis to UNESCO, based in Paris and founding Chairman of the SIDS ad hoc Committee for Representatives to UNESCO, reinforced in his remarks that it was critical and timely that the SIDS UNESCO constituency develop a focused, robust and results-oriented Action Plan over the next four years.
In his national intervention at the 196th session of the Executive Board, the official Representative of St. Kitts and Nevis, Mr. Antonio Maynard, brought the wishes and continued commitment of the newly elected Government of St. Kitts and Nevis, headed by the Hon Prime Minister: Dr. Timothy Sylvester Harris, to UNESCO’s unique competencies.
Mr. Maynard, who is the long-standing Secretary-General of the St. Kitts-Nevis National Commission for UNESCO, stated that “the new Government wishes to underline St. Kitts-Nevis continued support for UNESCO, its objectives, values and, importantly, it core fields of expertise. In the past year, UNESCO has demonstrated the tangible value of this expertise on the ground in St. Kitts and Nevis, in education and TVET policy, Man & Biosphere and in early-warning preparedness against natural hazards”.
Reinforcing the SIDS perspective at the Executive board session, Mr. Maynard said that St. Kitts and Nevis, in many respects, reflected “the epitome of SIDS. It really exemplifies the values of UNESCO in its efforts towards the achievement, and application of democratic governance, stability and prosperity within a culture of peace for all the people of Saint Kitts and Nevis, as one of the smallest Independent Nation in the World”. (St. Kitts Nevis National Commission For UNESCO Press Release)