Premier and Minister of Finance Hon. Andrew A. Fahie has told the United Nations that the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a catalyst for post-pandemic recovery in remarks at the virtual UNDP/ECLAC XII Ministerial Forum for Development in Latin America and the Caribbean from 12th -14th January 2021.

In his address as a panelist at a High-Level Ministerial Roundtable on “Effective Governance, beyond recovery” on 14th January, Premier Fahie outlined the steps the British Virgin Islands has taken in response to COVID-19 to contain the virus and stabilise the economy. He also expressed confidence in the recovery of the tourism sector under new entry and health protocols.

According to the Premier,

“We took a further step toward the recovery of our economy on 1st December 2020, when the borders were reopened to visitors under a robust set of entry and health protocols. The arrangements put in place have performed reasonably well thus far. Our screening procedures have been successful in netting and isolating any imported cases of COVID-19. Numbers remain low, but we continue to adjust our protocols as necessary to ensure the safety of the public. We are pleased to see the return of visitors and anticipate that the relatively low number of tourists currently on island will significantly increase by the next tourism season. To ensure the British Virgin Islands remains competitive in the global marketplace over the long-term, we are developing a new tourism strategy that will position us for continued success and sustainability.”

In addition, Premier Fahie emphasised the continuing importance of the Sustainable Development Goals, despite COVID-19, saying,

“While we know the global pandemic has placed the Sustainable Development Goals at risk, the British Virgin Islands views the SDGs as a catalyst for post-pandemic recovery. We believe that the transition required to achieve them will boost economic growth over the long-term, especially as transaction and environmental costs drop over time.”

He also thanked UNDP Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean Dr. Luis Felipe Lopez-Calva and ECLAC Executive Secretary Alicia Barcena for continued support by UNDP and ECLAC to the Small Island Developing States of the Caribbean and the wider Latin America and Caribbean region, as governments grapple with the impact of the global pandemic.

Other panelists on the High-Level Roundtable included, Vice President of Bolivia David Choquehuanca Caspedes, Minister of Government of Panama Ms. Janaina Tewaney Mencomo, Minister of the Technical Secretariat, Tona Plan Uda Vida of Ecuador Ms. Isabel Maldonado and Head of the Undersecretariat for Multilateral Affairs and Human Rights of Mexico Ms. Martha Delgado.

The British Virgin Islands delegation to the Ministerial Forum included Premier and Minister of Finance Andrew A. Fahie (Head of Delegation), Minister of Health and Social Development Hon. Carvin Malone, Permanent Secretary in the Premier’s Office Dr. Carolyn O’Neal-Morton, Acting Financial Secretary Mr. Jeremiah Frett, Acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health and Social Development Ms. Tasha Bertie, Director of the International Affairs Secretariat Ms. Najan Christopher, Assistant Secretary for External Affairs Ms. Dwynel Davis, Programme Officer Ms. Xyrah Wheatley and Special Envoy of the Premier Mr. Benito Wheatley.

The British Virgin Islands is a Vice Chair of the Caribbean Development and Cooperation Committee (CDCC), a subsidiary body of ECLAC. Premier Fahie will Co-Chair a Summit of the Associate Members of ECLAC on the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development at the upcoming UN Fourth Meeting of the Forum of the Countries of Latin America and the Caribbean on Sustainable Development.