Caribbean Sustainable Development Network launched at UWI

Friday, May 09, 2014

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ENERGY, climate change adaptation, and issues related to the economies of countries in the region are among the key areas of focus for the newly established Caribbean chapter of the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN).

The Caribbean SDSN was formally launched Wednesday at the University of the West Indies' (UWI) Mona Campus, St Andrew, where it will be headquartered.

In this regard, the UWI will act as the regional hub and will co-ordinate the activities of a network of governments, universities, research centres, civil society groups, and businesses, focused on identifying and promoting solutions for sustainable development issues affecting the Caribbean's Small Island Developing States (SIDS).

These also include matters related to: establishing competitive industries and employment generation; reducing high income disparities; adapting to climate change and reducing greenhouse gas emissions; marine pollution, overfishing, biodiversity loss, and urban development.

Guest speaker at the launch, Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller welcomed the SDSN's establishment noting that sustainable development "continues to be a highly important issue for us in this region."

She contended that the SDSN represents a "harnessing" of the region's "collective expertise and wisdom" to create what she described as a "stronger and more coherent Caribbean voice in the various global deliberations on sustainability and development."

"By forming this network, we have given ourselves more structure, greater definition, and a sound platform for coordinated action for positive outcomes, which will benefit the entire region. I commend this exemplary regional collaboration," the prime minister stated.

Simpson Miller also expressed the hope that the SDSN network will become a "focal point" for cutting-edge research and development activities by regional universities and research institutions, "in support of the islands of the Caribbean."

"We must also seek...ways to make sure that the outputs of any research with development implications will influence policy and planning decisions, at the local and national levels," Simpson Miller added.

In his remarks, UWI Vice Chancellor, Professor Nigel Harris said: "There is no other subject of greater importance and urgency in our region than that of the sustainable viability of these island nations scattered across the Caribbean Sea."

He pointed out that all regional states are subject to similar challenges of low economic growth, poverty, crime, "impossibly" high costs of energy, violation
of territorial waters, hurricanes and storms, "and the prospect of disappearance under rising seas."

"We are aware that combating these... requires a collation of all sectors of our societies -- government, private sector, civil society, and tertiary education institutions. I believe that it is from this last group, our universities, that the knowledge, documentation, and articulation of the threats that confront us, and the steps we must take to address them, will largely emanate," Professor Harris added.

United Nations Resident Co-ordinator in Jamaica, Dr Arun Kashyap, who described the SDSN's establishment as "well timed", said the network will ensure that "strengthened efforts are directed to realise the special needs and aspirations of the Caribbean countries, especially through regional cooperation, that is vital to its (SDSN) success."

Other speakers at the launch included United Nations Coordinator for the SDSN, Professor Jeffrey Sachs; and coordinator, UWI Institute for Sustainable Development, Dr David Smith.

The launch formed part of two days of consultative meetings involving a wide cross section of stakeholders from Jamaica and the rest of the region. The meetings concluded yesterday.


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