The Covid-19 pandemic has delayed many Caribbean islands’ progress toward meeting the United Nations 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, Premier Andrew Fahie said last week while chairing a virtual regional meeting.

The March 15 session was the first High-Level Meeting of the Associate Member Countries of the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean on sustainable development, according to Government Information Services.

Mr. Fahie chaired the meeting in his capacity as vice chair of the Caribbean Development and Cooperation Committee.

“The associate members of ECLAC as a special group of primarily small island developing states in the Caribbean are making genuine efforts to achieve sustainable development,” Mr. Fahie said in his opening statement. “However, they share common challenges that require attention and support in order to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.”

The associate members, e added, could benefit from more support in areas including administrative capacity, policy expertise, technology transfer and financial resources.

“These challenges are now compounded by the pressure on governments to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic and climate emergency,” he explained.


The pandemic, he added, has already set back the associate members on their work toward the achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, which were set by the UN General Assembly in 2015 for completion by 2030.

“We cannot deny that Covid-19 has been a setback to the 2030 Agenda,” he added. “However, I firmly believe that this is the time to strengthen our resolve and to work even harder to defeat the pandemic and promote sustainable development and green growth.”

The 17 Sustainable Development Goals include ending poverty and hunger; providing quality education for all; ensuring access to affordable clean energy; reducing inequality; taking “urgent action” to combat climate change; and ensuring gender equality, among others.

At the March 15 meeting, attendees agreed to meet again this year to discuss the associate members’ progress toward achieving the goals, according to GIS.

Other members

Last week, ECLAC Executive Secretary Alicia Barcena commended Mr. Fahie for spearheading the meeting, as did the ECLAC chair, who was represented by Christian Guillermet-Fernández, Costa Rica’s deputy minister for multilateral affairs in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Worship, according to GIS.

Besides the VI, associate ECLAC members at the meet-
ing included Anguilla, Aruba, Bermuda, the Cayman Islands, Curaçao, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Montserrat, Puerto Rico, the Turks and Caicos Islands, and the United States VI.

Representatives of three regional organisations also made statements of support to ECLAC’s associate members, including Association of Caribbean States Secretary- General Rodolfo Sabonge; Caribbean Community Assistant Secretary-General for Human and Social Development Dr. Douglas Slater; and Ambassador Stephen Fevrier, head of the permanent delegation of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States to the UN in Geneva. Ministers of government from Belize and Antigua and Barbuda also attended.

The next meeting

The meeting of associate members was part of the Fourth Meeting of the Forum of Latin America and the Caribbean on Sustainable Development, and it was held ahead of the official meeting of the forum from March 16-18, according to GIS.

The March 15 meeting’s objective was to “accelerate the mainstreaming of the associate members of ECLAC into the sustainable development framework of the region,” according to GIS.