The Prime Minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines, the Honourable Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, received the Letters of Credence of the new UNDP Representative for Barbados and the OECS, Mr. Magdy Martinez Soliman. Mr. Martinez was accompanied by the UNDP Deputy Resident Representative, Mr. Ugo Blanco and the Head of the Sustainable Solutions and Energy Cluster of UNDP Barbados and the OECS, Ms. Danielle Evanson.
St. Vincent and the Grenadines has had a long-standing partnership with UNDP, historically focusing primarily on disaster preparedness. Currently, the programme focuses on climate change adaptation and natural resource protection including through enhancing resilience of key productive sectors such as agriculture, improving justice systems and strengthening disaster mitigation, prevention and recovery. UNDP’s programmes have been supported by Japan, the United States, the Global Environment Facility and the European Union.
Mr Martinez congratulated the Prime Minister on the election of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines by the UN General Assembly, on behalf of the Latin American and Caribbean Group, as a non-permanent member of the Security Council, being the fourth CARICOM Member State and smallest country ever to do so.
Prime Minister Gonsalves and the UNDP delegation articulated the mutual desire to expand the collaboration noting key priorities relating to climate change, disasters and sustainable development. The Prime Minister shared the successes to date in leveraging over $20 million through local tax reforms toward a contingencies fund for risk and climate resilience, and expressed keen interest in exploring opportunities in the blue economy. The Prime Minister welcomed UNDP support in applied policy for sustainability and growth that resonates with the context and aspirations of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. He also accepted the invitation to preside over an event on citizen security later in the year, also to be accompanied by the Attorney General.
Following this audience which included the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Commerce, the Honourable Louis Straker and the Minister of Finance, Economic Planning, Sustainable Development and Information Technology, the Honourable Camillo Gonsalves, Mr Martinez met with the Attorney General and the Director of the National Emergency Management Organisation as key programmatic partners, discussing national thematic priorities and potential avenues for expanding UNDP support.
Mr. Martinez-Soliman had met the previous day with Her Excellency Mrs Susan Dougan, Governor General, where the discussion focused on issues of climate change and disaster risk resilience. He will also have encounters throughout his mission with the Minister for National Mobilisation, Social Development, Family, Gender Affairs, Persons with Disabilities and Youth; the Minister for Agriculture, Forestry, Fisheries, Rural Transformation, Industry and Labour; and the Senior Judge of the High Court.
The UNDP Head will also host a press conference for main media representatives and a discussion with the national Red Cross Society, among other civil society organisations he will meet during his maiden mission to Saint Vincent.