UNDP’s newly appointed Resident Representative for Barbados and the OECS, Mr. Magdy Martinez-Soliman, has recently met with key partners and stakeholders in the British Virgin Islands (BVI), Barbados and Antigua and Barbuda where he presented letters of credence and, with key regional agencies.
Meeting with CDEMA's Executive Director
UNDP's RR and DRR met with CDEMA's Executive Director in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Dorian’s landfall on Grand Bahama and Abaco. The emergency response and assessment of the impact dominated the conversation, as the DRR of UNDP in Barbados & the OECS, Ugo Blanco, would immediately join the organisation’s first responder deployment under the leadership of Jamaica RR, Denise Antonio. The discussions focused on the use of digital technologies like the UNDP-developed Building Damage Assessment (BDA), on the invitation by UNDP to CDEMA to join the conversations with private insurers in the Caribbean to create an inclusive and affordable insurance policy for social housing tenants and low-income homeowners. UNDP offered support to CDEMA in all interventions the regional body would undertake to respond to emergencies and in particular stressed the mandate and capacity of the organisation to assist national governments and communities in the recovery phase.
On 27 September, the UNDP RR and DRR called on the Hon. Chief Justice of Barbados, Sir Marston Gibson. The conversation centered on the institutional reforms and improvement of judicial services effected under the authority of CJ Gibson, including greening of Justice buildings, videoconferencing for avoidance of inmates convoy displacements, automation and digitalization of proceedings and documentation, and the modernization of trade dispute settlements, with a view to developing arbitration in Barbados to the latest standards. UNDP is conducting a needs assessment of the Judiciaries in the Caribbean and inquired if Justice Marston would delegate his officials to follow-up in a technical meeting between UNDP's experts and the Supreme Court of Barbados. The Chief Justice agreed to send a representation to such a meeting at the earliest mutual convenience. UNDP RR committed to conveying the main findings of the conversation to the Hon. Attorney General and Minister for Legal Affairs. The United Nations Development Programme looks forward to engaging further with the Supreme Court of Barbados on Justice Sector Reform matters, and has invited a delegation from Barbados' Judiciaries to participate in UNDP's Caribbean Seminar on HIV & The Law, taking place on 5 & 6 November in Post of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago.
The Hon. Speaker of the Barbados Parliament, His Honour Mr. Antony E. Holder, MP, received in the Parliament Building Mr. Martinez Soliman, UNDP RR in Barbados and the OECS, and Mr. Jason LaCorbiniere, UNDP Programme Officer, with whom he discussed current affairs and the outlook of parliamentary development in this Legislature. The Hon. Speaker showed interest in the works of regional parliamentary institutions and in revitalizing procedures and rules allowing for a more vibrant Parliament, closer to the interest of the public. UNDP Officials offered comparative experience of Westminster model institutions who had become more vibrant and engaged, through inter alia Committee System reform and better checks and balances. The Hon. Speaker suggested a technical follow-up meeting between the Chief Registrar and UNDP’s parliamentary experts to assess opportunities of future collaboration. The meeting will take place in the coming weeks in Bridgetown.
Prior to this, Minister of Foreign Affairs & Foreign Trade of Barbados, Senator Dr. The Hon. Jerome X. Walcott (MBBS, FRCS), received Mr. Martinez-Soliman in audience. The Foreign Minister, accompanied by his senior officials for Multilateral Affairs, wished the UNDP diplomat a warm welcome to Barbados and reiterated the positive collaboration between his country, the UN, and UNDP in particular. He mentioned that he wished to see the funding of UNDP for Barbados remain strong, which the UNDP RR assured would be the case. Further details of the meeting can be found here.
In the BVI, the Resident Representative met with and presented Letters of Credence to the Premier of the BVI, the Honorable Andrew A. Fahie. In the meeting, Hon. Fahie thanked UNDP for the support provided to the Territory after Hurricane Irma and expressed interest in continued collaboration in a number of strategic sectors where UNDP has recognised technical expertise and strong implementation capacity. For more on this mission, please view this article.
Antigua and Barbuda
The new Resident Representative’s first courtesy call was to Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, the Hon. Gaston Browne. During the visit, the pair discussed UNDP's ongoing support to the recovery effort in Barbuda and pledged to continue working closesly. The Honourable Prime Minister noted, "so far the relationship has been a very good one, one that could be replicated in other countries and we want to thank [UNDP] for your contribution in executing the recovery work." Acknowledging that there is "no quick fix", the Honourable Prime Minister made mention of several UNDP programmes and Mr. Martinez-Soliman assured the Prime Minister of his commitment to the region and to Antigua and Barbuda. Follow this link to view their exchange.