UN Under Secretary General and UNDP Associate Administrator Rebeca Grynspan concludes visit to Barbados

Sep 27, 2013

UN Under Secretary General and Associate Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Rebeca Grynspan

BRIDGETOWN. The UN Under Secretary General and Associate Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Rebeca Grynspan recently concluded a two-day mission to Barbados.  During the visit, she participated in the 3rd Interregional Preparatory Meeting of the Small Island Developing States (SIDS), held bilateral meetings, engaged with media and civil society and took the opportunity to meet with UNDP Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean staff.

Speaking to close to two hundred delegates at the opening of the 3rd Interregional Preparatory Meetings, Ms. Grynspan highlighted that while SIDS have made significant strides towards the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in health, education, gender equality and water and sanitation, but that action must be taken to address pollution, rising sea levels, ocean acidification and biodiversity loss. She noted that while progress has been made, climate change, environmental degradation and economic volatility threatens progress.  Ms. Grynspan added that, “political commitment and international support [are] needed to tackle these challenges, [thus] Apia will need to be far more than a review conference. UNDP, together with the Inter Agency Consultative Group is committed to supporting your preparations to realize - as called for by the General Assembly - an outcome that is “focused, forward-looking and action oriented.”

The UNDP Associate Administrator signaled that climate change, environmental degradation, economic vulnerability, access to modern energy and high energy costs remains a challenge in SIDS.   Addressing Ministers of Environment and Heads of Delegation, under the topic,  ‘Sustainable Energy: Placing Renewable Energy/Energy Efficiency at the Centre of the Sustainable Development of SIDS’, the UN Under Secretary General made the observation that, “high dependency and rising costs of fossil fuels have contributed to unsustainable debt levels making SIDS more vulnerable to global energy price shocks”.  She stressed that beyond economic growth, energy was vital for global human development, and called on the global leaders present, to commit to greater use of renewable energy and securing sustainable energy sources, whilst creating a level playing field for them to compete.

Ms. Grynspan called on SIDS use of the 2014 conference in Apia, Samoa, to build on agreements reached in Rio de Janeiro,   and momentum going in 2015 to, “to help generate the financing, technology and support SIDS need and at the same time influence the post 2015 development agenda….Apia can help SIDS build on this momentum by engaging citizens in this path breaking global conversation to influence the future development agenda – and by getting out ahead – setting concrete targets and systems for mutual accountability that can fit within the future framework,” she said.  Ms. Grynspan, also used this as an opportunity to reaffirm the Honorable Faunmunia Tiata Fassolatane Luiga, Minister of Finance of the Independent State of Samoa and His Excellency, Mr. Elisaia Feturi, Permanent Representative of Samoa to the United Nations  of UNDP’s support to SIDS  as they prepare for Apia. 

Recognising that civil society plays a critical role in advancing national development and critical to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), Ms. Grynspan took the opportunity to reassure the media and civil society that UNDP is advocating and raising awareness of the special circumstances of SIDS and it seemed that “the world is more ready today to understand those special circumstances”.  During the discussion, Ms. Grynspan explained  ways in which UNDP is seeking to strengthen its dialogue with civil society under UNDP’s strategic plan for 2014-2017.

Whilst in Barbados, Ms. Grynspan held positive discussion with the Minister of Foreign Affairs for Barbados, Senator the Honourable Maxine McClean.  They exchanged perspectives of various development issues including alternatives to purely economic measurements of national global progress, such as the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and the need for a more comprehensive measure, which takes into account the broader picture of human development and social indicators such as the Human Development Index (HDI).  The bilateral meeting was an opportunity to discuss ways in which UNDP could further strengthen their support to the Government of Barbados.

Given UNDP’s role in working with national governments for their achievement the Millennium Development Goals and other internationally agreed goals and commitments, the Associate Administrator concluded her mission, engaging UNDP Barbados and the OECS staff on a number of issues including the issues of Small Island Developing States (SIDS); the future of UNDP programming and institutional structures within the context of the 2014 – 2017 strategic plan and global financial crisis; and also an understanding of the small island multi-country office context. She advised that the soon to be finalised 2014 – 2017 Strategic plan seeks to remove the barriers separating the practice areas from engaging with all stakeholders to a more coherent approach by UNDP.   Ms. Grynspan also took the time to commend the staff and leadership for the contribution to the SIDS inter-regional meeting and her own mission.  She noted the appreciation expressed by the Government of Barbados to UNDP for its support and she herself noted the efforts made.

This was the first official visit of the UN Under Secretary General and UNDP Associate Administrator to Barbados since her appointment in 2009.

Lara Blanco

Deputy Resident Representative
United Nations Development Programme Barbados & the OECS
UN House
Marine Gardens
Christ Church
Phone: 246-467-6003 Fax: 246-429-2448
Mobile: 246-836-6003