A High-Level Roundtable on international cooperation for sustainable development in Caribbean Small Island Developing States (SIDS) was held in Bridgetown, Barbados on 25-27 March 2008. The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mrs. Ingibjörg Sólrún Gísladóttir, led an Icelandic Delegation of Ministry officials, development professionals and business interests.
The Conference allowed participants to discuss potential areas of development cooperation and ways to implement programmes and projects under the newly launched Island Growth Initiative (IGI). The IGI was established earlier this year by the government of Iceland to manage development cooperation with SIDS partners. The conference in Barbados was a first step towards realizing concrete projects and programmes and taking stock of the specific needs and priorities of Caribbean SIDS. Emphasis was placed on sustainable development, with a particular focus on ocean management, renewable energy and gender equality.
At the closing ceremony on 26 March, participants agreed on joint recommendations and conclusions as the basis for future work. Several opportunities for development cooperation were identified, including:
Emphasis of the disproportionate impact of accelerated climate change on SIDS, and support of the mobilization of technical and financial resources to address the costly impact of climate change;
Investment in and development of renewable energy resources, including geothermal energy resources;
Strengthened cooperation and sharing of experiences on sustainable fisheries;
Regional and international collaboration, e.g. between the United Nations University Fisheries Training Programme and the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism.
On 26 March, Minister Gísladóttir held bilateral consultations with Mr. Christopher Sinckler, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Barbados, following the closing ceremony of the High-Level Roundtable Conference. Ministers signed a Memorandum of Understaning on bilateral cooperation, identifying mutual areas of interest such as combatting climate change and the sustainable use of natural resources. They also discussed opportunities for strengthening cooperation in fisheries and ocean management, as well as possible agreements on double taxation, foreign investments and transportation.
On 27 March, Minister Gísladóttir had bilateral meetings with Mr. Sha Zukang, UN Under-Secretary of Economic and Social Affairs, and Mr. Charles Severin, Minister of Energy of Dominica. Both welcomed the Island Growth Initiative and Iceland’s increasing development cooperation in the Caribbean region.
The three-day conference was organized by the Foreign Ministry of Iceland, the Foreign Ministry of Barbados and the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs. Participants included representatives of all 16 Caribbean SIDS, the United Nations and regional organizations.