Permanent mission of Antigua and Barbuda Meets UNCTAD Director in charge of SIDS


Permanent mission of Antigua and Barbuda Meets UNCTAD Director in charge of SIDS

The Permanent representative of Antigua and Barbuda at the United Nations (UN) in Geneva, yesterday held a meeting with Mr Paul Akiwumi, Director of the Division for Africa, Least Developed Countries and Special Programmes at the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) at the UNCTAD Headquarters at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

In this meeting, the Permanent Mission of Antigua and Barbuda to the UN, headed by H.E. Boris Latour, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, was represented by Mr. Timothée Bauer, Deputy Permanent Representative, accompanied by H.E. Colin Murdoch, Ambassador of the OECS at the UN in Geneva.

The discussion focussed on the need for a big push to get appropriate funding for UNCTAD that can be made available to Small Island Developing States (SIDS). Mr Akiwumi pointed out that while there was ad hoc funding available, it was neither adequate nor consistent.

He advised the Permanent Mission of Antigua and Barbuda to encourage the Permanent Representatives of Caricom and other SIDS at the UN in New York to raise this need for further funding higher on the political agenda and to undertake a significant lobbying effort.

H.E. Colin Murdoch pointed out that after natural disasters, many of them caused by man-made changes to the earth’s climate, countries such as Antigua and Barbuda attempt to build back better with borrowed funds.

This, he explained, induced a vicious cycle where countries build back to where they were before but are now burdened with twice the debt. Ambassador Murdoch insisted that this was a cycle that needed to be broken.

Both the Antigua and Barbuda diplomat and the UNCTAD senior official also engaged in a discussion on the IV SIDS Summit due to be held in Antigua and Barbuda in May 2024.

They highlighted the elevated expectations for this Summit, in light of recent international developments such as an emerging consensus on “loss and damage” reparatory processes coming out of COP27; as well as potential international agreement on the multidimensional vulnerability index (MVI) being developed by a high-level panel co-chaired by Elna Solberg, the former prime minister of Norway and Gaston Browne, current prime minister of Antigua and Barbuda.

It is expected that the panel’s report will be presented to the UNGA in New York later in September.

“The international environment on funding for development issues is changing”, according to the opinion of H.E. Boris Latour, Ambassador of Antigua and Barbuda to UN in Geneva, “and we expect to see movement soon, including at the IMF and the World Bank, that can allow SIDS like Antigua and Barbuda to make a qualitative leap forward in terms of their development”.

H.E. Boris Latour would also like to point out that, given the shortening timeframe until the IV SIDS Summit next year, the time had come for intensified collaboration between Antigua and Barbuda and UNCTAD.

To assist in this process, Antigua and Barbuda had appointed a focal point for all SIDS issues. Both sides agreed to an intensified follow-up process.

Geneva, the 1st September 2023

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