ECLAC, CARICOM Highlight Vulnerabilities, Opportunities in Caribbean SIDS

3 September 2014: During a side event at the Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS), representatives of Caribbean SIDS and the UN discussed critical factors that underpin the vulnerability of Caribbean SIDS.

‘The vulnerability of Caribbean SIDS revisited – it's all about size' took place in Apia, Samoa, on 3 September 2014, and was organized by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) in collaboration with the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat.

Speakers discussed trade and finance, governance and institutional capacity, disaster management, regional integration and opportunities arising from the small size of SIDS, as well as the fact that the majority of Caribbean SIDS are classified as middle-income countries, based on gross domestic product (GDP).

Raúl García-Buchaca, ECLAC, said middle-income status based on GDP fails to consider inequalities at the national level. John Ashe, President of the UN General Assembly (UNGA), focused on the particular vulnerabilities of Caribbean SIDS, and suggested mainstreaming them into the post-2015 development agenda. Winston Dookeran, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Trinidad and Tobago, called for working with development partners and international financial institutions to build buffers to external shocks, and declared that “Size may well be an opportunity rather than a limitation.”

Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Guyana, said the Caribbean would require over 7% growth to be sustainable, and mentioned the challenge in diversifying Caribbean economies within the new global economic order. Camillo Gonsalves, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, said that because of their small GDP, SIDS are unable to finance adaptation and recovery from natural disasters, and recommended regional integration, development financing, preferential trade, and debt relief and restructuring to assist in this regard.

Participants also introduced a vulnerability-resilience profile for arriving at an index, said the SIDS resilience fund could be a good measure in this regard, and underscored that the human capital must be recognized, public policy revolutionized, and political structure transformed. [ECLAC Press Release] [Statement of UNGA President] More