As the Fourth International Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS4) in Antigua and Barbuda approaches, the British Virgin Islands (BVI) has rallied support for the 13 Associate Members of UN ECLAC located in the Caribbean at the 7th Meeting of the Forum of the Countries of Latin America and the Caribbean on Sustainable Development in Santiago, Chile, which was attended by UN Deputy Secretary-General H.E. Amina Mohammed and chaired by Costa Rica Minister for National Planning and Economic Policy Hon. Laura Fernandez Delgado.

BVI Special Envoy Mr. Benito Wheatley as a panelist on the panel entitled ‘Advancing the priorities of Caribbean small island developing states towards achieving the 2030 Agenda’ moderated by Mrs. Diane Quarless, Chief of the ECLAC Caribbean Subregional Headquarters, called for international support to all SIDS, including the Associate Members of UN ECLAC. In his remarks, Mr. Wheatley said,

“The Associate Members remain undeterred in our quest for support to assist us with sustainable development and climate resilience… Together (with the UN system) we will try to find a way forward so that the Associate Members are not left behind as international efforts are made to accelerate achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.”

Mr. Wheatley emphasised that the British Virgin Islands had advocated on behalf of the Associate Members at the various SIDS4 preparatory meetings, but that greater acknowledgement of their needs was still required, as well corresponding support for their sustainable development and climate resilience under the new SIDS Programme of Action that will be agreed in Antigua and Barbuda from 27th-30th May 2024.

At the official closing ceremony of the 7th Meeting of the Forum of the Countries of Latin America and the Caribbean on Sustainable Development, Executive Secretary of UN ECLAC H.E. Mr. Jose Manuel Salazar-Xirinachs acknowledged the challenges faced by the Associate Members in his closing statement.

“Please allow me to acknowledge the concerns raised by the Representative of the British Virgin Islands on the need of the Associate Members to gain access to financing for development and other types of assistance to strengthen their sustainable development and climate resilience. This forum will continue to be a platform so that the Associate Members can present their challenges,” the head of the region’s UN regional commission said.

In affirming support for the Associate Members, the Member States of the Forum included in the outcome document agreed to, “recognise their specific political and economic constraints and their vulnerabilities in their pursuit of sustainable development, and encourage their continued inclusion, where appropriate, in the work of the Commission (i.e. ECLAC) and its subsidiary bodies.”

The support expressed by the Forum represents a boost for the British Virgin Islands and other Associate Members of the UN regional commissions heading into the SIDS4 conference.

The 7th Meeting of the Forum of the Countries of Latin America and the Caribbean on Sustainable Development took place in Santiago, Chile from 15th-18th April 2024.