By Government of the British Virgin Islands
British Virgin Islands, (BVI) – Ten United Nations (UN) agencies have participated in a BVI-UN Sustainable Development Forum hosted by the government of the British Virgin Islands (BVI) from 13-15 June 2023.
The BVI government and UN agencies discussed the UN support needed to advance the sustainable development of the islands.
On 14 June, a high-level dialogue on sustainable development took place between BVI government ministers led by premier and minister for sustainable development Dr Natalio D. Wheatley, and the heads and Representatives of UN agencies in the Caribbean led by UN Resident Coordinator for Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean Didier Trebucq.
The UN agencies represented included the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), International Labour Organisaton (ILO), World Food Programme (WFP), United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), International Organisation for Migration (IOM), Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) and Resident Coordinator’s Office (RCO) for Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean.
In his opening remarks, premier Wheatley said the wide representation and participation of UN agencies at the BVI-UN Forum is, “a clear indication and demonstration to us of the seriousness with which the UN takes its relationship with the British Virgin Islands. We are grateful to you and UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres for your commitment to leave no one behind as the world tries to rebuild momentum to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) after the setbacks of the Covid-19 global pandemic.”
Government ministers, heads and representatives of UN agencies discussed:
- Available UN support measures to assist the BVI Government with implementation of the National Sustainable Development Plan;
- Concrete steps to strengthen and expand existing UN programmes in the islands;
- Areas in which additional technical assistance can be provided to the BVI Government within the scope of the Country Implementation Plan; and
- Innovative financing solutions for climate resilient infrastructure and sustainable development.
Areas identified for additional UN technical assistance and support include, among other things: migration and immigration policy; youth policy revision; student feeding programme design; social protection and support for vulnerable groups such as the elderly, women and youth; sustainable energy audit; energy transition policy for a low-carbon economy; collection and use of data; design of a national pension plan; design of an unemployment scheme; innovative financing; and implementation of the National Sustainable Development Plan.
The UN delegation also met the Sustainable Development Goals National Coordinating Committee (SDGNCC) comprised of the permanent secretaries of the ministries of government and chaired by permanent secretary in the ministry of tourism, culture and sustainable development Joseph Smith-Abbott, and co-chaired by permanent secretary in the premier’s office Carolyn Stoutt-Igwe.
They discussed the modalities for BVI-UN development cooperation, both within the framework of the Country Implementation Plan (CIP) agreed between the BVI and UN system in January 2023, and outside of the CIP such as tripartite cooperation between the BVI, UN and other partners. Bilateral meetings were also held between respective government ministries and UN agencies with whom they are cooperating on programmes.
The UN delegation also completed a recovery tour of Virgin Gorda and Tortola to assess the progress of the BVI’s recovery from hurricanes Irma and Maria in September 2017 that caused $2.3 billion of damage, and to better understand the BVI’s climate vulnerability as a Small Island Developing State (SIDS).