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Monday, May 10, 2010

Poverty and low economic growth impede development of small island states, says Grenada minister

UNITED NATIONS -- Despite the designation of many Small Island Developing States as upper-middle to high income, poverty and social exclusion still exist and are fuelled by low economic growth, macroeconomic shocks and limited provision of social services, according to Grenada’s Foreign Affairs Minister Peter David.

Foreign Affairs Minister Peter David chairs UN Meeting (Photo: Bascombe)Addressing the opening of an inter-regional meeting for Small Island Developing States (SIDS) at the United Nations on Saturday David encouraged delegates to work towards a Political Declaration for the high-level meeting which will be in New York in September.

He said the inter-regional meeting offers the opportunity to take stock of the outcomes of the three regional five-year review meetings of the Mauritius Strategy of Implementation (MSI).

However, David noted that the persistence of poverty, especially among female-headed households, the elderly and immigrants, is a cause for concern and an impediment to the implementation of the MSI.

“We are aware of the importance of human capital development in successfully implementing the MSI and as a result we are increasingly concerned about migration out of the region, especially of highly skilled persons as it has the ability to erode some of the development gains made, particularly in health and education,” he said.

“At the same time we share the concern for the lack of adequate data to properly assess progress towards the Millennium Development Goals and to inform evidence-based policies”.

Members States are undertaking a five-year review of the Mauritius Strategy for the Further Implementation of the Barbados Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States.

The high-level review meeting, to be held during the 65th Session of the UN General Assembly in September, are preceded by preparations at the regional and inter-regional levels.

Three regional meetings in the Pacific, Caribbean and AIMS regions were held earlier this year, followed by this inter-regional meeting in New York on Saturday and a Preparatory Committee meeting on Monday during the 18th Session of the Commission on Sustainable Development.

The Grenadian Foreign Minister was invited to Chair Saturday’s meeting and to deliver the opening statement. He also presented the Grenada Outcome Statement arising from the Caribbean Regional Review Meeting held in St George’s, March 16-18.

David said that building domestic capital, in the form of human capital, savings and institutions, is vital to increasing the capacity of small island developing states to build resilience and reduce vulnerability.

“This requires the expansion of training in science and technology and the building of national systems of innovation through knowledge management,” he said.

He said although Grenada has made progress towards improving its social indicators over time, the cumulative effect of a number of crises threatens to erode past gains, and poses serious challenges to reducing poverty in our country.

He said the situation is now being compounded by the Global Economic Recession which has weakened Grenada’s near and medium term economic prospects, through its constricting impact on tourism receipts, foreign direct investments, remittances and government revenues.

David said that a government has been undertaking a number of measures aimed at rehabilitating the economy, restoring macroeconomic stability, and reducing poverty.

“The Government of Grenada also intends to lead by example in the area of Energy Conservation, and has embarked upon an Energy Conservation and Energy Efficiency Education and Sensitisation Programme”.

May 10, 2010