After re-opening its borders for tourism in June, Antigua and Barbuda has been very active in advocacies in the international scene.
Led by Prime Minister Gaston Browne, the Caribbean State has been making its voice heard globally. The resilient head of state for the majestic island-nation has been focused on a logical vision and motion to bounce back from the effects of climate change and global pandemic.
Prime Minister Browne envisions policies and strategies that would empower Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and not, as he says, “bear the brunt of climate change”.
Hon. Browne is getting much support across many sectors and leaders internationally, including from Ambassador Dr. Dario Item. Together with the European Caucus of Antigua and Barbuda Ambassadors and Honorary Consuls, Ambassador Item supports the Prime Minister in his call for sustainable development to the United Nations.
PM Browne’s vision for sustainable growth and development
Antigua and Barbuda has participated in a series of high-level meetings in various international fora. Prime Minister Browne has represented not only his country but also the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS). The group of countries from the Caribbean has been one of the most badly hit by the recession of international travel and tourism industries due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
As pointed out by Hon. Browne, COVID-19 may just be the tip of the iceberg, together with the $7.3 trillion loss that it caused could be an annual figure that the world economy loses to climate change in the future. The dismal side of this occurrence is that AOSIS, despite being a severe casualty, is denied a voice in the global community.
Despite the tremendous work that lies ahead, PM Browne is not short of support. “What’s good is that we know where we are and where we want to be. Antigua & Barbuda stands with Prime Minister Browne in his call for sustainable development, and the government’s ongoing efforts towards the same vision.”, according to Ambassador Dr. Dario Item.
The Head of Mission for Antigua and Barbuda Embassy to Spain, Liechtenstein, and Monaco notes that acknowledging the issues help identify key areas for development. He says that PM Browne’s messages give the international community a clear picture that Antigua and Barbuda has been fractured, and that the standing financial policies are only worsening the injury.
Despite the predicament it faces, the government of Antigua and Barbuda, in its own ways, has been gathering momentum through its financial policies, technological infrastructure, tourism enhancement programs, and citizenship incentives to contribute to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
The government also recognizes that strategies to recover must transcend “individual interests”. Instead, a more holistic and customized approach in achieving development, especially for the Caribbean States, must be implemented.
Prime Minister Browne believes that the Small Island Developing States (SIDS), countries from the Caribbean, must employ “SIDS solutions” to the “SIDS issues” that are being confronted. He also proposed a SIDS compact. This is a program that intends to steer SIDS economies safely through today’s crisis and facilitate development in the short, medium, and long term.
The SIDS compact focuses on easing local SIDS trading and the consolidation of a resiliency fund in the short term. It also covers debt moratorium that would transcend to debt reduction in the medium term. It will also consider a financial strategy that is aligned with the Paris Agreement. All these components will be integrated into a national plan and budget including specific policies for implementation.
Despite being one of the worst-hit regions by the effects of COVID-19, the atmosphere of resilience still resonates in the islands of Antigua and Barbuda. Dr. Item has pointed out that their people are “extremely resilient” and it shows in their smiles.
Aside from this positive culture, the country also boasts of determined and focused leadership. The SIDS compact, as well as the country’s expansion technologically, is a good testament to that.