Ms. Maria Francesca Spatolisano Assistant Secretary-General for Policy Coordination and Inter-Agency Affairs

Opening Remarks
“Learning Conference on Implementing the 2030 Agenda in the Caribbean Region”

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is my pleasure to be in the beautiful city of Port of Spain. I wish to thank the government of Trinidad and Tobago for hosting this Learning Conference on the Implementation of the 2030 Agenda in the Caribbean. I also wish to thank the Ministers and other high-level representatives from the Caribbean countries and from the Pacific for joining us. I also thank the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean and the United Nations Institute for Training and Research for collaborating with the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs in organizing this event. This event follows upon the footsteps of a similar learning conference held in January in Shanghai for the Asia Pacific region.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development provides a universal and transformative framework for eradicating poverty, leaving no one behind and achieving sustainable development by 2030. The year 2030 is on the horizon and we must join forces to achieve the ambitious Sustainable Development Goals by then.

We need to take bold steps if we want to transform and to enhance the sustainability and resilience of countries. We need to think innovatively about the way that public policy and public services are designed and delivered for all – including those that are hard to reach. We need new governance models that reinforce the public administration’s commitment to build innovative forward looking partnerships with the civil society and the private sector. With advancements in new technologies, including artificial intelligence, and the opportunities and challenges these are posing for present and future generations, governments will need to play an increasingly important role in spearheading appropriate regulations, coherent policies and social protection systems to ensure that no one is left behind. This is a tall order to achieve, but it is also a duty towards future generations.

This Conference is very timely as we are here just two months before the 2019 High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development takes place. The Forum will address the theme of “Empowering People and Ensuring inclusiveness and equality” and will review, Goal 4 on education, Goal 8 on decent work and economic growth, Goal 10 on reducing inequalities, Goal 13 on climate action, Goal 16 on providing access to justice and building effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels and Goal 17 on Partnerships. All of these are of high relevance to the Caribbean region.

Forty-eight member states – including Saint Lucia and Guyana – will present their Voluntary National Reviews during the High Level Political Forum. These provide an opportunity for countries to take stock of initiatives, and to share challenges, successes and lessons learned on SDG and SAMOA Pathway implementation. I would like to encourage those countries that have not yet participated in the Voluntary National Reviews to do so.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

2019 is also an important year for SIDS, with the Mid-Term Review of the SAMOA Pathway taking place in September, which is expected to result in “a concise action-oriented and inter-governmentally agreed political declaration.” This presents a key opportunity for you, to examine progress and gaps and to determine your priorities going forward. I urge you to take full advantage of this process.

The SAMOA Pathway, although an integral part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, is in itself a standalone overarching framework for guiding global, regional and national development efforts in support of the sustainable development aspirations of SIDS. It builds on the Barbados Programme of Action (BPoA) for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and the Mauritius Strategy for Implementation (MSI).

As highlighted in the Apia Outcome document of November 2018, “achieving a results-based, sustained and cohesive approach for the implementation of the SAMOA Pathway requires that, in addition to the attention given to governance frameworks at national and sub regional levels, (which include policy, budgets, legislation, human resources, technology transfer and institutional capacities) an effective monitoring and evaluation framework must be established.

The unique and particular vulnerabilities of SIDS are well known by the international community, and even more so by you, who live with this reality daily, so I will not repeat them today. However, in light of these vulnerabilities, and the need to strengthen collaboration within and among the SIDS and the international community, I want to encourage all of us to have an honest debate among peers, share insights and learn from one another over the next two days. I encourage you to jointly seek solutions that involve the whole of society in the implementation of the SAMOA Pathway and of the SDGs, and that harness the synergies between both agendas. Moreover, the UN DESA’s report on Financing for Development stresses the need for a global approach to address the financial needs for SDG implementation in developing countries.

I look forward to a fruitful Learning Conference and hope that you will return to your countries with new insights, inspiration and renewed commitment to accelerate the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the SAMOA Pathway. I also hope that this meeting can mobilize new ideas and recommendations that can feed into the discussions of the High-Level Mid-Term Review of the SAMOA Pathway taking place in September.

Thank you.

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