Dr. June Soomer, lead United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean consultant for the territory’s National Sustainable Development Plan, spoke during the launch of the NSDP consultations this month. No public meetings have been scheduled yet, however. (Photo: SCREENSHOT)

Government is planning a series of public consultations on a National Sustainable Development Plan designed to align with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals for 2030, according to Premier Andrew Fahie.

Mr. Fahie said during a livestreamed ceremony on March 12 that the consultations will be held in collaboration with the UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean.

“The alignment of national development priorities with the Sustainable Development Goals is an indication of our national ownership of the global agenda and will help to meet international monitoring and evaluation standards, as well as allow us to be accountable to the people of these Virgin Islands,” he said.

There are 17 Sustainable Development Goals that the UN hopes to achieve by 2030, and all the UN member states adopted this agenda in 2015. The goals include eliminating hunger and poverty, reducing inequality, and ensuring access to health care, quality education, clean water, and reasonable employment, to name a few.

Resilience

Besides aiming to secure prosperity through sustainability, the territory’s NSDP will aid government in “strengthening the resilience” of the VI to “withstand future hurricanes, pandemics, and any other crisis,” government announced Monday in a press release.

Lead ECLAC consultant Dr. June Soomer, former secretary general of the Association of Caribbean States, will provide support throughout the development of the plan, according to the press release.

Dr. Soomer said the consultations will “quickly” move to the public, and that the plan will come from the people through “intensive discussions.”

According to the statement, consultations with the public sector will be followed by meetings with members of the House of Assembly, the deputy governor, the private sector, civil organisations, schools and youth groups, and community-based organisations.

However, no schedule of consultations has been provided, nor has the government broadcast any public meetings so far.

Dr. Soomer is joined by a local team including Recovery and Development Cooperation Specialist Patlian Johnson and Finance Ministry economist Emery Pemberton.

Existing plans

The premier announced the NSDP during his budget address in November 2019.

The following January, Magdy Martinez-Solimon, resident representative of the UN Development Programme in Barbados and the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States, said the strategy will be designed to complement existing plans, including the 2019 National Physical Development Plan and the Recovery to Development Plan, which was originally adopted in 2018 and subsequently revised.

“It is hoped to be the most ambitious plan for the sustainable development of the territory, and the highest government officials have pledged to align the BVI’s national development priorities with the global agenda,” Mr. Martinez-Solimon said at the time.


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