SIDS4 a resounding success “Time to implement decisions to position ourselves to achieve prosperity within the next decade”

The content originally appeared on: Antigua News Room

From hundreds of congratulations, comments of setting the standards high for the Caribbean, thunderous applause to a standing ovation, the curtains came down on the four-day Small Islands Developing States Conference in St. John’s Antigua.

Speaking at the closing press conference, Prime Minister the Hon. Gaston Browne said that the conference was a resounding success and went beyond talk, noting that the dialogues were enriching in which a number of exciting strategies were proposed.  The dialogues included debt sustainability, social and economic issues affecting states, and climate existential threat which were fully ventilated.

“The outcome document, the ABAS, has a number of strategies and programmes to create a pathway so that states can achieve resilient prosperity within the next decade, as we want to make sure that we not only achieve the SDGs but beyond them to exploit other opportunities especially within the marine space,” said Prime Minister Browne.

The Prime Minister also spoke of the Conference moving forward quickly by establishing the Centre of Excellence which is a vital component towards accelerating and implementing the SIDS4 Agenda.

The Centre of Excellence, located at Barnicle Point, according to Prime Minister Browne,  “has a number of mechanisms that will assist SIDS in closing the gap for many of the areas in which SIDS need technical expertise.  One such mechanism is a data hub in which SIDS has been unable to produce reliable data and timely data for planning and other purposes.”

Prime Minister Browne said that the Data hub mechanism of the Centre will assist states in building the data capacity in order to generate timely and accurate data, assisting the planning purpose.

“Practically all development is driven by data because if you don’t have the appropriate data, the timely data, you cannot come up with adequate plans and strategies to address the various issues.  Even the issue of debt, in which we are hoping to introduce strategies so that states could achieve debt sustainability, require proper data,” he said.

The Prime Minister also spoke about the Debt Sustainability Support Service Initiative which forms part of the Centre of Excellence.  He said that the initiative will assist states to have a more coordinated effort to address the issue of debt sustainability, and facilitate better finance and debt negotiations.

“States are literally fighting for climate and financial justice and as we seek financial justice, we ask for reform of the international financial architecture, we must develop bespoke products for states.  Debt Sustainability Support Initiative will look at a number of ideas, many of which are already in the public domain, to include issues such as debt swaps, debt for climate swaps, SDG swaps, and the monetization of carbon credits and other initiatives to include debt relief initiatives,” outlined the Prime Minister.

“To address the issue of debt and also to negotiate low interest rates in order for states to get more affordable rates and achieve increased maturity transformations, that is to have debt profiles with longer terms up to 40 years.  Again, data will be required.  The Debt Sustainability Support Initiative will help states to address the issue of debt in a sustainable way,” he said.

The country’s leader also pointed out that the mechanism can be utilized to negotiate better prices as a result of scaling up purchases and having better coordination and cooperation.  He said in light of this, the DSSI will be a significant element of the Centre of Excellence.

In concluding, the Prime Minister said that these decisions of Conference will result in a better organized  and stronger SIDS in their advocacy for Climate justice.  With the support of our UN colleagues and other stakeholders, we will be able to accelerate the advancement of SIDS as we position ourselves to achieve prosperity within the next decade.  I believe we had a very successful Conference, one that will go down in history for its achievements.”

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