World Environment Day - Raise Your Voice, Not the Sea Level

Message of the Right Honourable Freundel Stuart, Q.C., M.P., Prime Minister of Barbados

2014 is a banner year for Barbados on many fronts as we continue with our commitment to advance an inclusive development paradigm, for a Barbados that is socially balanced, economically viable and environmentally sound. 

As the global host of 2014 World Environment Day (WED), the most important day of the year for environmental action, Barbados is honored to stand alongside the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the rest of the global WED community in raising our voices in solidarity with, and support for the Small Island Developing States of the world.

It was 20 years ago when the first Global Conference on the Sustainable Development of Small Island States (SIDS) took place in Barbados.  On that occasion, the world took notice as small island developing nations made their voices heard.  For the first time, a specific blueprint for the sustainable development of SIDS was adopted, the Barbados Programme of Action (BPOA), and the doors of international diplomacy were opened for SIDS to influence processes to protect our strategic interests. It is a noble legacy and effort that we will continue to uphold for all time and at every opportunity.

In response to Barbados’ proposal to commemorate the legacy of two decades of the BPOA, the UN designated 2014 as the International Year of Small Island Developing States.

The BPOA, and the Mauritius Strategy for the Further Implementation of the BPOA, which followed thereafter, both recognise that there are common issues impacting SIDS such as climate change, natural and environmental disasters, management of waste, coastal and marine resources, energy and tourism, among others.

Regional cooperation initiatives have helped to address some of these issues. Supported by the global commitment to the 20-year SIDS agenda, these initiatives include the Caribbean Planning for Adaptation to Climate Change (CPACC), and the Integrating Watershed and Coastal Area Management (IWCAM) in the Small Island Development States (SIDS) of the Caribbean.  The CPACC, for example, has installed sea level and climate monitoring systems in a dozen countries, pushed greater appreciation of SIDS climate change issues at the international policy level, and articulated national climate change adaptation policies and plans for 11 countries.

These are but a few examples of the collective approach - what I call “SIDS-Collectivity” - that in our view, this group of nations must continue to take as it interfaces with the international community.

On World Environment Day, we raise the collective voices of SIDS, once again, in calling for stronger and more concrete political action and solutions to enable us to realize a future, not only of resilience, but also of prosperity for our island nations.  For, given the interconnectedness of the planet, our prosperity is also that of our neighbours in the developed and developing world.

Our goal is to be heard loudly and clearly, maintaining the place of Barbados firmly in the mainstream of the discourse and action on the future of SIDS.  Barbados will proudly show the world our commitment to this process as a nation.

I encourage everyone to join the Government of Barbados as we celebrate 2014 as the International Year of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and World Environment Day 2014.