Jamaica is among 11 Caribbean Community (CARICOM) states ranked as 'very high' or 'high' on the United Nations Development Programme's (UNDP) Human Development Index (HDI) for 2011.
This was revealed by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Dr Kenneth Baugh as he addressed the opening ceremony for the 14th annual Conference of Presidents and Governors-General of CARICOM, on Monday at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel, New Kingston.
He said that of the 14 Caribbean countries ranked, most were categorised as Upper Middle Income Developing countries by the World Bank, with per capita Gross National Income ranging between US$4,000 and $12,000 in 2010.
Jamaica was ranked seventh among the Caribbean countries and 79th in the world, in terms of economic and social development.
Baugh noted, however, that "while this classification reflects one measure of progress in relation to less advanced developing economies in Latin America, Asia, and Africa, it fails to take account of our peculiar vulnerabilities as small island developing states, and disqualifies us from concessional financing and badly needed debt relief. Regrettably, we are victims of our own modest success".
The HDI is a comparative measure of life expectancy, literacy, education and standards of living for countries worldwide. It is a standard means of measuring well-being, especially child welfare. It is used to distinguish whether a country is developed, developing or underdeveloped, and also to measure the impact of economic policies on quality of life.
Turning to regional developments, Baugh said that despite differences in size and population, significant strides have been made to consolidate the CARICOM Single Market and Economy, and the countries have been faithful to the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas and the spirit of Montego Bay.
"We have established successful patterns of cooperation in education, health, security, culture, sports, environment, tourism, disaster management, communications and technology, and the administration of justice," he stated further.
In addition, he said the Caribbean has established mechanisms to coordinate foreign policies and has acted collectively in its interface with traditional partners and in expanding external relations.
"We have broadened our horizons to embrace integration with the wider Latin American region, and look forward to the Summit on Integration and Development to be held in Caracas, Venezuela, next month, as we launch the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States," he stated.
Making a mark
Baugh said that the Caribbean continued to make its mark on the world stage, particularly in terms of "the dynamism and diversity of our culture", noting that the ackee and salt fish of Jamaica and the coo coo and flying fish of Barbados, have been ranked by National Geographic among the top five national dishes in the world.
Ten heads of state from Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Belize, the Commonwealth of Dominica, Grenada, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, and Jamaica are attending the four-day conference, which is being held under the theme, 'Building Together for the Future'.
The event will allow for the sharing of experiences and developments in the various territories.