NIA CHARLESTOWN NEVIS (March 28, 2019) — The following is the full text address delivered by Hon. Hazel Brandy-Williams, Junior Minister of Health in the Nevis Island Administration at the 2nd Biannual Regional Forum on the Sustainable Development Goals on March 27, 2019 at the Four Seasons Resort, Nevis.
Premier of Nevis, the Hon. Mark Brantley; Minister of Social Development, the Hon. Eric Evelyn; other colleague members of the Nevis Island Government; honourable Ministers from the OECS and the wider Caribbean, Ms. Alison Drayton, Director and Representative of the UNFPA Sub-Regional Office for the Caribbean, other esteemed heads and representatives of regional and international organizations, distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen, a pleasant morning to you all.
It is a distinct honour for me to address you on the occasion of this our Second Biannual Conference on the Sustainable Development Goals and to warmly welcome you to our blissful, island paradise of St. Kitts & Nevis. I am to hope that your experience here with us, brief as it may be, will be so enjoyable and enriching, that this island which we call home may for some of you become a second home or at the very least, a perennial point of visit.
This conference, ladies and gentlemen, comes at a time when our Caribbean community seeks to consolidate many of its developmental gains amidst a whirlwind of global challenges. It comes at a time when we seek to redouble our efforts and our commitment to a developmental agenda that is sustainable and people-centered. No doubt, therefore, the principle of “leaving no one behind” will find acute relevance and resonance in our deliberations over the next three days. Indeed, it is perhaps fitting that as we seek to give fillip to this principle of “leaving no one behind” that this conference seeks to shine the spotlight on two of the most salient SDGs which are central to realizing that objective. SDG 3 which brings into sharp focus the necessity of providing Good Health and Well-Being for all our people and SDG 5 which serves as a clarion call for us to promote and champion the cause of gender equality in our society. These two SDGs, quite notably, espouse a clear and direct nexus with human development, which is particularly important in the context of the Caribbean where our most precious resource is our human resource.
Before us is an agenda with several items and issues of significance to our societies and also our economies. I implore you therefore to sharpen not just your pens and your pencils but also your minds. Bring your ideas to the fore as to what common strategies we can use in the region to advance sexual and reproductive health and rights. Let us have a discussion with a view to fashioning solutions towards making healthcare financing more attainable and sustainable. Let us look seriously as to how we can overcome some of the challenges confronting men’s health and also accelerate progress in our fight against NCDs. And let us establish a road map for increasing women’s participation in political life so as to enrich our democracy and the quality of governance afforded to our citizens.
I look forward to all of us being able to draw on the national and personal experiences of each other. To this end, I encourage you over these next three days to actively engage in a meaningful exchange of ideas and best practices so that we can chart a collective way forward for the region.
I must also place on record my immense gratitude to the United Nations Population Fund, through its Sub-Regional Office for the Caribbean and ParlAmericas which have both come on board in a big way to partner with us and help make this conference a reality. I am persuaded that the substantial investment which they have made will bear good fruit, as any investment in our people and their development is ultimately a good investment, and one in which we are sure to see positive returns.
Ladies and gentlemen, let me say finally that what unfolds over the next three days will be significant. At the same time, however, it will still represent but a piece of the larger puzzle. For at the end of the day, discussion must be translated into action and ideas into concrete initiatives. Let us therefore absorb and learn as much as we can, and be prepared to go back to our respective countries to work, work, and work some more. In doing that work, let us however still hold firm to the bonds of friendship, openness and partnership, which for small island developing states such as ours will be critical to our efforts to achieve the SDGs. To be sure, I look forward to the fruitful discussions and the development of concrete projects and policies in the months ahead, as we seek to achieve these sustainable development goals together. Thank you all for coming and to the visiting delegates, welcome to Nevis!