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 Commonwealth of Dominica, Grenada, St. Kitts and Nevis, the British Virgin Islands (BVI), Barbados and Antigua and Barbuda where he presented letters of credence and, with key regional agencies.
The Commonwealth of Dominica
Following private audience with the Prime Minister for the Commonwealth of Dominica, the UNDP Resident Representative and the newly appointed Head of the Dominica Office, Mr. Magdy Martinez Soliman and Mr. Luis Franciso Thais, joined a meeting of the Dominican Cabinet which was chaired by the Foreign Minister, the Hon. Francine Baron. Cabinet Ministers debated several projects with the international guests including PAYS (the Portsmouth Association of Yachting Services) - which receives UNDP support - Kalinago community assistance and, economic management of public revenue and recovery. For further details of this mission, please follow this link.
UNDP’s newly appointed Resident Representative for Barbados and the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States, Magdy Martinez Soliman recently presented letters of credence to the Honourable Keith Mitchel, Prime Minister of Grenada. During this, his first official mission to the country, Mr. Martinez Soliman also met with the Governor General and other senior officials.
The Honourable Prime Minister and his senior officials expressed gratitude to UNDP for support provided so far and interest in expanding the pair’s collaboration. Officials further requested support in the areas of youth development and employment and single-use plastics ban.
St. Kitts and Nevis
In the afternoon of Independence Day, immediately after the diplomatic reception, Dr. The Hon. Timothy Harris received UNDP Resident Representative’s Letters of Credence in a meeting that took place at Warmer Park, Basseterre. The Honourable Prime Minister of Saint Kitts and Nevis emphasized that his country, at its 36th anniversary of independence, needed “…more of the UN” while he congratulated UNDP for its work to support the Police Force through the CariSecure Project.
The PM heard from Mr. Martinez Soliman about the improvement of citizen security data and situation on the islands and the efforts of UNDP to support the protection of natural areas and National Parks, like the Central Forest Reserve and the hiking trails to Mount Liamuiga. During this official mission, the Resident Representative was interviewed by the St. Kitts and Nevis Information Service. The interview can be viewed here.
For more on Mr. Martinez Soliman's first official mission to St. Kitts and Nevis, click here.
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.
British Virgin Islands
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 and for details of the RR's plans for the BVI, click here.
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.
The Resident Representative was also featured on the ABS Evening News where he provided updates on UNDP's support for the completion of the Hanna Thomas Hospital in Barbuda.