Editorial

Carib on its own with global Sustainable Development Goals

Sunday, July 02, 2017

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The outlook for development assistance is bleak given the Trump Administration's plans to cut the aid budget by 36 per cent, Brexit's likely impact on European aid, and the Venezuelan political turmoil.

The Caribbean will have to depend on its own internal resources if it is to attain the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) established in 2015to provide the international community with a common plan to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity.

Importantly, the SDGs are an inclusive agenda of targets and guidelines for all countries to implement in accordance with their own priorities and the environmental challenges of the world at large.

The SDGs are a bold commitment to continue the progress achieved by the predecessor, Millenium Development Goals (MDGs), which started a global effort in 2000 to tackle extreme poverty and hunger, preventing deadly diseases, and expanding primary education to all children, among other development priorities.

Progress was attained under the MDGs over 15 years in several important areas: reducing income poverty, providing much needed access to water and sanitation, reducing child mortality by 50 per cent and HIV/AIDS infections fell by almost 40 per cent.

They also kick-started a global movement for free primary education, inspiring countries to invest in their future generations. The MDGs notably made huge strides in combatting other diseases such as malaria and tuberculosis.

The SDGs coincided with another historic agreement reached in 2015 at the COP21 Paris Climate, which set targets to reduce carbon emissions, manage the risks of climate change and natural disasters, and to build back better after a crisis.

However, the achievement of the SDGs will be dependent on the overall economic development of all the countries of the world, and that in turn depends on capital investment of a sufficient amount on a global scale. This is where good intentions meet the reality of anaemic global economic growth and the lack of empathy by the developed countries for the struggling developing countries which are not generating adequate domestic government and private investment.

Capital flows to developing countries take the form of commercial loans, development assistance, remittances (of which only a part is used for investment), and foreign direct investment (FDI).

The prospects are not particularly propitious and this is certainly so for the small island developing states of the Caribbean. These governments are highly indebted, which limits their capacity to borrow from external commercial sources, and remittances from the USA, Great Britain and Canada are not likely to increase significantly.

There is plenty of FDI in the world, including from China and the Middle East, but opportunities in the Caribbean are limited even in tourism. The Caribbean consists of middle-income developing economies which have been graduated from the most concessionary development financing facilities and grants.

To put a fine point on it, the Caribbean is on its own.

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