Special Envoy Benito Wheatley. Photo courtesy bvinews.com.
ROAD TOWN, BVI--The British Virgin Islands (BVI) has led regional talks on the United Nations’ (UN’s) comparative advantage in supporting the Caribbean to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The discussions took place at a virtual regional strategic consultation workshop on May 21, organised by the UN system in the Caribbean to support preparation of the UN Multi-Country Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework 2022-2026 (MSDCF) for the region.
Special Envoy of the Premier, Benito Wheatley chaired a special working group session of the consultation workshop comprised of 14 Caribbean countries and territories; six UN agencies that included UNESCO, United Nations Population Fund UNFPA, UN Women, International Maritime Organization (IMO), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP); and five regional partners that included the Caribbean Community CARICOM, the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI) and The University of the West Indies (The UWI).
The participants discussed the UN’s strengths, as well as the areas where the UN system can improve its approach in the region. The delegates of the governments represented highlighted the value of the UN as a Caribbean partner, along with regional organisations and institutions, the support of which will be critical to recovery from the COVID-19 global pandemic and getting the region back on track to achieve the SDGs.
The meeting was co-chaired by Mikiko Tanaka, UN Resident Coordinator in Guyana, and supported by Jessica Chandnandi, Team Leader in the UN Resident Coordinator’s Office in Suriname.
Commenting on the Working Group session, Wheatley said, “This was a very important exercise as the region looks to the future. Crisis is becoming the norm for the Caribbean, which will emerge more vulnerable from the pandemic. The UN is a critical partner in both our recovery as a group of Small Island Developing States and achieving the SDGs by 2030. Gaining a consensus on the core needs of the region, such as technical assistance and funding, and identifying where the UN can best help to meet these needs and strengthen its current approach, was very important.
“The British Virgin Islands and the wider Caribbean will benefit from the UN support that will be provided to the region under a new MSDCF. The British Virgin Islands will continue to participate in the ongoing UN consultation process, which reflects the strong commitment of Premier Honourable Andrew A. Fahie to our engagement with the UN system.”
Ahead of the regional strategic consultation workshop, the special envoy participated in an MSDCF Regional Planning meeting for Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean on May 18. He also attended meetings of the UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) Regional Conference on Social Development, which included the May 19 meeting of the Regional Cooperation and Integration Working Group and the May 26 meeting of the Working Group on Leaving No One Behind in the Caribbean.
The BVI is a Vice Chair of the UN ECLAC Regional Conference on Social Development and also a Vice Chair of the Caribbean Development and Cooperation Committee (CDCC), a subsidiary body of ECLAC. The regional commission is currently assisting the BVI government with preparation of a National Sustainable Development Plan.