SIDS Centre of Excellence emerges as legacy achievement of international conference

The content originally appeared on: Antigua News Room

SIDS Centre of Excellence emerges as legacy achievement of international conference St. John’s, Antigua, Thursday 30th May 2024…. In delivering one of the most anticipated mechanisms to address the unique vulnerabilities of Small Island Developing States (SIDS), Antigua and Barbuda officially launched the SIDS Centre of Excellence on Thursday.

As the minutes of the historic 4th International Conference on Small Island Developing States, SIDS4, ticked away, the details of the ground breaking initiative were unveiled during a launch in the Media Zone of the conference venue on the AUA campus in Antigua and Barbuda. 

“We thought that this needed to be an institution that can respond in different ways to address the many crises that we face as SIDS,” stated Antigua and Barbuda’s Ambassador to the United Nations Dr. Walton Webson. 

The Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister the Hon. Gaston Browne, in setting the tone for the launch, reflected on the many obstacles that stand in the way of island nations reaching their fullest potential. 

He made mention of the retrogression in the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), but noted that the SIDS Centre of Excellence is one of the direct developments from the established Antigua and Barbuda Agenda for SIDS (ABAS), the final outcome document of the SIDS4 Conference. 

He explained that the Centre of Excellence will have three corner stone pillars – a Global Data Hub, an Innovation and Technology Mechanism and the Island Investment Forum. 

“We recognize that SIDS have not been attracting significant investments. In fact the investment flow generally goes to the larger and developing countries, so we have decided to establish as a mechanism in the Centre an investment forum which result in biannual investment conferences to attract investment and certainly technological advancement to ensure that we have the resources in order to achieve prosperity,” Prime Minister Browne stated. 

He also added that the issue of debt sustainability is a fundamental and ongoing problem facing SIDS. The nation’s leader stated that the institutional arrangements that will spring from the establishment of the Centre will address the issue of debt in a more holistic way. 

United Nations Office for Project Services’ (UNOPS) SeniorAdvisor for Small Island Developing States (SIDS), Simona Marinescu, expressed her elation that the beneficial institution is finally a reality. 

“I would like to congratulate the government and people of Antigua and Barbuda for finally bringing the cycle of 10-year agendas from the shelf. The action on this agenda will generate involvement of multi-stakeholder partners, which will be a crucial part of its success,” she expressed. 

Executive Chairman of the PVBLIC Foundation, Sergio Fernandez de Cordova, one of the major contributors in the initiative pointed out that a multi- stakeholder approach is a necessity for the Centre to be a success. He also advocated for continuous work and collaboration to ensure that the Centre features the latest technological innovation, all with the common goal of bringing needed assistance to SIDS. 

International SIDS Advocate, Dr. Gene Leon, further expounded on the significance of what he described as an institution which will foster a united way to mobilize finances to truly yield resilient prosperity for all SIDS. 

“SIDS still face a tri-factor of problems, inadequate access to affordable financing and inadequate recognition of the nexus between vulnerability and resilience and how that prevents us from getting to those goals. What we need now is not to get rid of but to compliment the various frameworks that exist in a unified way to strengthen strategic partnerships,” he stated. 

Prime Minister Browne further noted that the centre has gone well beyond a theoretic idea as the furnishings and the technology including the necessary broadband are already in place to ensure that the initiative truly emerges as a lasting legacy of the historic SIDS4 Conference. 

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