August 1st, 2019 - UNDP Resident Representative for Barbados and the OECS, Mr. Magdy Martinez-Soliman, presented Letters of Credence to the Premier of the British Virgin Islands, 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 a continued collaboration in a number of strategic sectors where UNDP has recognised technical expertise and strong implementation capacity. Mr. Martinez Soliman was accompanied by the newly appointed Deputy Resident Representative, Mr. Ugo Blanco, and the former Head of UNDP’s BVI Project Office, Mr. Luis Francisco Thais. UNDP assured the Hon’ble Premier of its intention to continue supporting the British Virgin Islands if its technical assistance is considered useful and relevant.
Mr. Martinez-Soliman had a three-day programme in Tortola, BVI, which started with an audience granted by the Governor of the Territory, His Excellency Mr. Augustus Jaspert, who highlighted the progress and way forward on economic governance and outlined his views on future priorities. UNDP’s RR recalled the long-standing partnership between the U.K. and UNDP, through numerous collaboration programmes with DfID and the strong position of the British Government on Sustainable Development, Climate and Recovery issues. This conversation had a follow-up in a meeting with the Deputy-Governor Mr. David Archer, Jr.
The UNDP delegation met with all Ministers and Secretaries (Hon. Natalio D. Wheatley, Minister of Education, Culture, Youth Affairs, Fisheries and Agriculture, and PS Dr. Marcia Potter; Hon. Carvin Malone, Minister of Health and Social Development, and PS Ms. Petrona N. Davies; Hon. Vincent O. Weatley, Minister of Natural Resources, Labour and Immigration and PS Mr. Ronald Smith-Berkeley; Finance Secretary Mr. Glenroy Forbes, acting Permanent Secretary at the Premier’s Office Ms. Elvia Smith-Maduro, and briefly exchanged with the Hon. Kye M. Rymer, Minister of Transportation, Works and Utilities). The delegation also met senior representatives of the main Civil Society Organizations, active in the field of human development (Family Support Network FSN, The Rotary Club of Tortola and The Red Cross).
Areas of mutual interest for future technical assistance and collaboration were identified, including housing, social protection schemes and home insurance, the Blue Economy and marine biodiversity, with a strong interest in the “Green Paper” recently issued by the Ministry for Natural Resources; the ongoing collaboration with UNDP for the elaboration of the Blue Economy Roadmap for the BVI was also at the center of the dialogue with the Ministry in charge of Fisheries and Agriculture. The Hon. Natalio Wheatley acknowledged the opportunity to diversify the economy, create sustainable jobs and boost research on the Exclusive Economic Zone and marine resources.
Mr. Glenroy Forbes, Financial Secretary of the Ministry of Finance expressed his gratitude for the support provided by UNDP for the implementation of the Recovery and Reconstruction Loan granted by the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) and uttered interest in continued collaboration on international procurement, capacity building and financial rating for the Territory.
Exchanges with other Senior Officials and CSOs were exceptionally revealing and emphasized the importance of disaster preparedness, social services provision to the most vulnerable and strong capacity and dynamism of grassroots organization in the BVI.
The UNDP delegation was invited to visit several other islands, in particular Virgin Gorda, to see on-site the impact of the hurricane and results of the recovery outside Tortola.
This visit was the result of the recent encounter in New York between BVI’s Special Envoy for International Affairs, Mr. Benito Wheatley and Assistant Secretary-General and Regional Director of UNDP for Latin America and the Caribbean, Mr. Luis Felipe Lopez Calva.
UNDP is very grateful for the gracious hospitality offered by the Premier’s Office during the preparation for, and the visit itself. UNDP looks forward to the continuation of this constructive and effective partnership with one of the Caribbean territories hardest hit by the last hurricanes.