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PM opens SIDS symposium

Prime Minister Perry Christie addressed the Small Island Developing States symposium held in Nassau this week. Read his open comments here. (Stock photo)

Thursday, February 23, 2017
Thursday, February 23, 2017

Here follows remarks by Perry Christie Prime Minister The Bahamas 21 February 2017 at the Symposium on “Implementing the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda and the SAMOA Pathway in Small Island Developing States (SIDS): Equipping public institutions and mobilizing partnerships”.

The event was hosted by the Government of The Bahamas with the support of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) 21–23 February 2017:

It is my pleasure to welcome you to The Commonwealth of The Bahamas and to this important and timely Symposium on the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda and the SAMOA Pathway aimed at equipping public institutions and mobilising partnerships in the implementation of that Agenda.

As other speakers have noted, the Sustainable Development Goals are transformative. They provide a path by which we can preserve our planet for generations to come. The 17 goals and the accompanying targets are the culmination of important deliberations between nations. They represent a set of goals in which every country can systematically pursue. These goals focus on inclusive development, the elimination of poverty, and hunger, the provision of quality education, clean water and sanitation and the creation of a healthy, safer world. These are ambitious goals but with focused determination and commitment they are realistically achievable.

All of the countries present here today, together with others who could not be here, have committed themselves to an aggressive agenda of sustainable development over the next 15 years. It is critical that the next steps focus on how to achieve these goals, while respecting the unique needs and challenges faced by individual nations. My Government, like all others here, has prioritised the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. We will share a little later in the Symposium our action plan but I wanted to take this opportunity to talk a little about governance – one of the key ingredients for a successful implementation.

Good governance is critical. A properly functioning government is essential if we are to have any hope of success. We must examine our respective systems of governance and implement necessary adjustments. The success of our efforts in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals is heavily dependent on having the right policies in place and ensuring effective coordination of the implementation of the Change Agenda. Now when I talk about good governance I am not only talking about governments’ systems. I am talking about the governance arrangements in the private sector, in civil society and in the governmental system as well. Good governance is not the responsibility of any one institution or group of institutions; it is the responsibility of all of us working collaboratively

The 2030 Agenda is people-focused. It places the citizen at the centre of development. It recognises that “no man is an island”. It is a truism that we as Small Island Developing States know more clearly than others the challenges of independence and working in silos. We understand intimately that Sustainable development requires connections and interdependent relationships. This is as true in a global context as it is at the local level as well. Again, I emphasize that Sustainable Development requires connections…connections between the citizen and his/her government, between the government and the private sector and civil society and between other nations.

We also know that when governments are not functioning effectively nothing else functions well either. Government must be at the forefront of change. With this in mind, my Government has identified one of the key implementation steps towards achieving the sustainable development goals in The Bahamas is the improvement of governance in the public sector.

We have taken a number of initiatives towards reaching this goal including looking at how we can utilise Information Communication Technologies (ICTs) to increase government efficiency, inclusiveness and engagement with its citizens and move towards an effective E-government infrastructure and reducing barriers to doing business.

One of the more potentially impactful decisions taken has been the implementation of a Public Sector Management and Performance Monitoring Reform Project. This project, created through a partnership with the Inter-American Development Bank, will transform how we govern. It will reform the procurement management in government, improving transparency and providing equal opportunity to all. It will also improve the national statistical system so that high quality easily accessible information is available to facilitate evidence based decision making; transform the public financial management to improve efficiency and transparency in the allocation of public funds and revolutionise the performance management and the implementation of government priorities.

We recognise that we need modern and effective governance arrangements if we are to provide the opportunities deserved by our citizens and if we are to interact successfully with the rest of the world as we move on of government priorities. Pioneered in the UK under the Tony Blair administration, this approach has been utilised successfully in a number of other countries including Canada and some of the countries of Latin America. The delivery unit approach will result in the use of a proactive, integrated and centralised system to monitor all of government priorities as well as efficiently coordinate cross-sectoral polices and stakeholder priorities. This will reduce the risk of failed projects, delays and cost overruns, ensuring that citizens get the best use of tax dollars and facilitate the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.

I also want to acknowledge that this Symposium comes at a time when countries around the world and in particular, Small Island Developing States such as The Bahamas are becoming increasingly vulnerable to the effects of Climate Change. Here in The Bahamas we are experiencing more frequent and more intense hurricanes and storms, rising sea levels, high levels of vulnerability to flooding in coastal areas and accelerated erosion of coastal zones.

In 2015 and again in 2016 we experienced two intense hurricanes, Hurricanes Joaquin and Hurricane Matthew, both occurring late in the hurricane season. These hurricanes caused tremendous damage and loss of personal property. They also left a large number of communities displaced and caused significant damage to the country’s infrastructure and natural habitat. Many of you sitting here have also witnessed similar events and have suffered the financial and social burden associated with the recovery which adversely impacts the implementation of priority projects geared to meeting the goals of the 2030 Agenda and the SAMOA pathway.

I am happy to note that although the overarching theme of this Symposium will involve discussions on how to strengthen public institutions and build partnerships for the realisation of the entire 2030 Agenda and the SAMOA, special focus will also be given to the environment and how we can better address Climate Change through stronger public institutions and partnerships.

These experiences confirm that Climate Change is a pressing issue and we can no longer refuse to take action to adapt to and militate against the effects of climate change. We must better integrate climate change adaptation and mitigation into all planning, educational and budgetary processes.

The Bahamas, like many other countries has started this process of integrating Climate Change adaptation and mitigation into its national planning processes as is reflected in “The Bahamas’ National Development Plan: Vision2040” which will be launched in the comings months. This Plan serves as a roadmap for the development of The Bahamas for the next 25 years and mainstreams the Sustainable Development Goals into its goals and strategies.

Distinguished guests,
I look forward to the ideas and lessons that will emerge from this Symposium as we move forward with full implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the SAMOA Pathway.

I wish you a productive meeting and a pleasant stay in The Bahamas.
Thank You!

Bahamas Ministry of Tourism officials, as well as its hoteliers and representatives from promotional boards, participated in the recent New York Times and Boston Globe Travel Shows.

The Ministry of Financial Services has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation on the cooperation in establishing of a trade information services desk and electronic portal.

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