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Don’t Neglect Sustainable Developmenmt Goals-CaPRI Report Urges Caribbean Leaders

Published:Tuesday | September 22, 2015 | 9:00 AM

When heads of government meet at the United Nations later this week to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the organisation, they will also be signing a declaration to usher in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The SDGs are a set of 17 goals that will guide the global development agenda for the next 15 years and will replace the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). As with the MDGs, Caribbean countries will have to adopt these goals along with the 169 development

targets.

A brief put out by the Caribbean Policy Research Institute (CaPRI) has argued that Caribbean governments were justified in paying scant regard to the MDGs given that the goals were irrelevant to the region. Now with the advent of the SDGs, CaPRI is calling on Caribbean leaders to engage the new goals given the implications they hold for the region.

 

Climate change

The paper, which focused largely on the issue of climate change as embodied in SDGs 13 and 14, pointed out that the region faces disproportionately the impacts of climate change and, as such, cannot afford inaction in this regard.

SDG 13 urges world leaders to take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts while SDG 14 asks countries to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.

According to the CaPRI brief, "Caribbean governments were right to treat the Millennium Development Goals with polite disregard given its narrow focus on extreme poverty, public health, and educational access - not the most important priorities of middle-income, small island states. With the Caribbean on the front line of the consequences of climate change and poor marine environmental management, we are urging the governments in the region to engage the new agenda with some seriousness."

Among the eight recommendations outlined in the brief is a call for review of regulation regarding land use and construction, mobilisation of UN funds to address mitigation needs, review of fish-harvesting regulations and fishing subsidies with an aim to stop overfishing and the commissioning of an audit of important natural resources.

"Many of the non-economic challenges in poor and middle-income countries can be related to the absence of widespread economic prosperity. And so it is with some of the environmental challenges in the Caribbean. With higher income levels, as it has done elsewhere, will surely come a greater appreciation for the quality of the environment. That may very well come to pass in time. But therein lies a paradox. The environmental dangers that the Caribbean faces are urgent. Failure to address them with the required urgency, on a global scale, pose dangers that will be realised long before economic growth can elevate the collective appreciation of conservation," the brief said.

andre.poyser@gleanerjm.com