Road Town, Tortola – November 2, 2020 “Strengthening partnerships towards the achievement of sustainable development in the Caribbean, in times of COVID-19 and beyond” was the prevailing sentiment of today's high-level virtual launch and signing ceremony between the Government of the British Virgin Islands (BVI) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean. The event commenced with the presentation of the Human and Economic Assessment of Impact (HEAT) Report and concluded with the UNDP’s affirmation of their commitment to supporting sustainable growth in the BVI through the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).
The publicly televised signing of the MoU facilitated by Premier and Minister of Finance, Hon. Andrew A. Fahie, and ASG Luis Felipe Lopez-Calva, UNDP Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean, solidifies the UNDP's promise of 'building forward better'. The agreement focusses on strengthening the UNDP/BVI partnership in order to further address the socio-economic impacts of COVID-19 and other external shocks such as natural disasters, financial crises or pandemics. In addition, it reinforces support for the achievement of the SDGs and 2030 Agenda, including mainstreaming the SDGs in national policies and plans accelerating their implementation and providing technical assistance for sectoral analyses, the promotion of the Blue Economy and additional relevant activities.
Noting the significance of the initiative and its role in the UN's mandate of ‘delivering as one’, Didier Trebucq, United Nations Resident Coordinator, Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, stated, “By early 2020 the UN launched globally the decade of action and now, with COVID-19, an acceleration plan is required more than ever. It is therefore imperative that our agencies work cohesively to provide catalytic support to ensure the region recovers better, stronger and more sustainably. To this end, the MoU being signed today institutionalises an important partnership between the UNDP and the BVI. It reinforces a cooperation that will lead to the realisation of our shared vision for sustainable development."
Recovery and Development Cooperation Specialist Ms. Patlian Johnson, in her elucidation of the Report, highlighted the volatile nature of the current crisis, and noted the effectiveness of the recommendations in ensuring BVI can weather further shocks and sustainably rebuild. The comprehensive assessment, a UNDP, UNICEF and UN Women collaboration, is designed to support Government’s relief and recovery efforts; through the endorsement of several interventions and fiscal, regulatory and social policy proposals. Ugo Blanco, Resident Representative a.i. UNDP Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, speaking on the study’s recommendations aimed at advancing post-COVID-19 recovery stated that "this crisis is an opportunity to rethink the future we want and, with that In mind, work together to accelerate recovery through economic diversification, job creation and increased resilience".
UNDP has launched several COVID-19 Response initiatives and mobilised funding and technical support across the region. This newest MoU reaffirms the commitment of the global organisation to achieving sustainable development in the Caribbean.
UNDP's efforts are part of a wider UN Barbados and Eastern Caribbean joint response to "deliver as one", aimed at increasing the UN's presence and impact in the sub-region, through the provision of more tailored support to countries articulated around building resilience and leaving no one behind.
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