Antigua and Barbuda has been able to distinguish itself as it engaged with world leaders and pronounced on a variety of issues affecting island nations across the globe during the 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly.
The country’s position on a number of pressing concerns ranging from the climate crisis and its resulting consequences on small states, the pioneering role it is playing in the development of a Multidimensional Vulnerability Index to the humanitarian crisis and violent upheavals in Haiti were clearly enunciated by Prime Minister the Hon. Gaston Browne during his address to the United Nations General Assembly last Friday.
The nation scored a major achievement with its execution of two major side-events which resulted in significant outcomes and recommendations.
The International Finance and Energy Transition Diplomacy held on September 18 garnered high-ranking SIDS and non-SIDS officials discussing and recommending on the energy transition in SIDS within the scope of the next 10-year agenda to be adopted in Antigua and Barbuda at the 4th International Conference in May 2024.
Similarly, on September 21, Prime Minister Gaston Browne hosted a High-Level Breakfast with fellow Prime Ministers and Ministers of Health to address the issue of eye health to ensure it remains central to the achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
The discussion took place on the margins of the General Assembly, bringing positive attention to the country’s leadership on yet another important global issue affecting millions around the world.
Prime Minister the Hon. Gaston Browne in discussion with Haitian President Ariel Henry (centre) during a meeting of the Ad Hoc Advisory Group on Haiti at last week’s UN General Assembly.
Through the work of the United Nations Friends of Vision, which Antigua and Barbuda is the founding chair, the meeting ending with a clarion call to support the call for a UN Secretary General Envoy on Vision and ensure eye health is included in national reporting, such as the Voluntary National Reviews.
Another significant outcome was the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding on a Partnership for the Establishment of the SIDS Global Data Hub.
This tripartite signing among Antigua and Barbuda, the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) and the PVBLIC Foundation laid the groundwork for the establishment of a partnership that utilizes data and mobilizes the Family Offices for Sustainable Development to help SIDS achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, and implement the new Programme of Action for SIDS 2024-2034, which will be adopted at the Fourth SIDS Conference in Antigua and Barbuda from May 27 – 30 next year.
In reflecting, Antigua and Barbuda’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations Ambassador Walton Webson noted that this year’s General Assembly exceeded expectations and yielded strong outcomes on crucial matters that are at the very top of Antigua and Barbuda’s agenda in ensuring a better and brighter future for the country and its people.
“Our leadership on the Multidimensional Vulnerability Index and our preparations for the SIDS4 Conference to be held in Antigua and Barbuda is clearly paying off as both have yielded widespread support from fellow leaders with whom Prime Minister Browne and his high-level delegation of colleague ministers engaged,” Ambassador Webson noted.
The country received strong pledges of support for the SIDS4 Conference, which will serve as the launching pad for a Centre of Excellence.
The Centre is envisioned to be the nerve centre for the type of data SIDS lack in developmental planning and to strengthen their case for financial assistance when the need arises. The international conference of island nations will be held in Antigua and Barbuda from May 27 – 30 next year.
Antigua and Barbuda also became one of the first signatories to the BBNJ Treaty, and the presence of Health Minister Sir Molwyn Joseph at the UNGA ensured that the country’s voice continues to be heard on major health and plastic pollution issues.
“The signing of the BBNJ Treaty, which was done by our Foreign Affairs Minister, was yet another clear message on Antigua and Barbuda’s position on the climate crisis and our commitment to ensuring that our oceans are protected. As a nation, we should be proud,” Ambassador Webson added.
He commended Prime Minister Browne for his insightful and discerning leadership on pressing issues and his forceful yet skilfull negotiations at the bilateral level on a number of matters with the country’s development partners to include Venezuela, Ireland, the Dominican Republic and Saudi Arabia
Ambassador Webson further heaped praise on the country’s delegation who attended this year’s General Assembly and on all members of the Mission staff whose supportive role ensured that Antigua and Barbuda was prominently and effectively represented at all times.
He expressed gratitude to the delegation of Ministers who accompanied Prime Minister Browne to New York to include Health and Environment Minister Sir Molwyn Joseph and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade the Hon. EP Chet Greene.
Joining the delegation to witness the Prime Minister’s address to the General Assembly were Permanent Representative of the Mission of Antigua & Barbuda to the United Nations in Geneva HE Boris Latour, Resident Ambassador of Antigua and Barbuda to Jordan H.E Sami Al Mufleh and Antigua and Barbuda’s Ambassador Designate to Italy H.E. Jeff Hadeed.
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