TORTOLA:--- The British Virgin Islands has strengthened cooperation with the United Nations ahead of losing future European Union support for sustainable development at the end of 2020 when the Brexit transition period expires.
To advance the sustainable development of the islands, the British Virgin Islands Government has secured technical assistance from the UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) to help develop a National Sustainable Development Plan for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.
In addition, UN ECLAC has also agreed to Co-Chair with the British Virgin Islands a summit of the regional commission’s 14 Associate Member Countries (AMCs) in 2021 that will focus on addressing the assistance gap to the AMCs as they strive to meet the SDGs.
Implementation of the National Sustainable Development Plan will be supported by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) under a Memorandum of Understanding signed on 2nd November 2020 by Premier and Minister of Finance Hon. Andrew A. Fahie and UN Assistant Secretary-General Luis Felipe Lopez-Calva that will strengthen cooperation between the British Virgin Islands and UNDP in the areas of sustainable development, climate resilience, and COVID-19 response and recovery.
The UN Resident Coordinator’s Office in Barbados has also confirmed it is strengthening its coordination role among UN agencies in the region to support the sustainable development of the British Virgin Islands and the countries included in the Eastern Caribbean.
In response to the disruption caused by COVID-19 to the sustainable development agenda and the negative economic, social, and health impacts of the global pandemic, the UN is helping the British Virgin Islands to address the effects of the virus as a part of its Multisectoral Response Plan for the Eastern Caribbean. Among other things, UNDP, UNICEF, and UN Women have collaborated with the British Virgin Islands Government to produce a COVID-19 Human and Economic Assessment of Impact (HEAT) Report on the islands which has been used to help guide the local response.
The British Virgin Islands has also been active in the regional and international dialogue on COVID-19’s impact on Latin America and the Caribbean and proposals for post-pandemic recovery. Among other things, in his role as Vice-Chair of UN ECLAC’s Caribbean Development and Cooperation Committee (CDCC), Premier Fahie has chaired a High-Level Panel on ‘Challenges for the Caribbean to Build Back Better from COVID-19’ at the 38th Session of UN ECLAC from 26th-28th October 2020.
The High-Level Panel included the Prime Minister of Saint Lucia Hon. Allen Chastanet, State Minister in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade of Jamaica Senator the Hon. Leslie Campbell, UN Special Envoy on Financing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Mr. Mahmoud Mohieldin, Assistant Secretary-General for the Climate Action Team of the UN Mr. Selwyn Hart, Assistant Secretary-General for Trade and Economic Integration of CARICOM Mr. Joseph Cox and Vice-Chancellor of the University of the West Indies (UWI) Sir Hilary Beckles.
Premier Fahie also chaired a UN ECLAC/UWI Development Partners Forum on 14th October 2020 on the theme, ‘Investing in Higher Education to Build More Resilient Post-COVID-19 Economies.’ The meeting featured remarks by Prime Minister of Barbados Hon. Mia Amor Mottley and UWI Vice-Chancellor Sir Hilary Beckles, and included participation by over 100 participants from governments, donor agencies, development banks, and UN agencies.
The British Virgin Islands has received high plaudits for its COVID-19 response from UN Assistant Secretary-General Luis Felipe Lopez-Calva, UN Resident Coordinator for Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean Mr. Didier Trebucq, and UNDP Resident Representative for Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean Mr. Ugo Blanco.
Premier and Minister of Finance Hon. Andrew A. Fahie has also received high commendation for his regional statesmanship over the course of the global pandemic from UN ECLAC Executive Secretary Ms. Alicia Barcena and ECLAC President Costa Rica Minister of Foreign Affairs and Worship Mr. Rodolfo Solano Quiros.
Commenting on the British Virgin Islands cooperation with the UN, Premier Fahie said,
“The British Virgin Islands will continue to deepen our relationship with the UN as we work closely on the local response to COVID-19 and engage with regional and international partners to lay the groundwork for post-pandemic recovery, climate resilience and sustainable development for Caribbean SIDS."
The Premier is supported in his role as Vice-Chair of the CDCC by Permanent Secretary Dr. Carolyn O’Neal-Morton, Deputy Secretary Mrs. Elvia Smith-Maduro, International Affairs Director Ms. Najan Christopher, Assistant Secretary for External Affairs Ms. Dwynel Davis, Development Cooperation Specialist Ms. Patlian Johnson, and Special Envoy of the Premier Mr. Benito Wheatley.