NIA CHARLESTOWN NEVIS (March 27, 2019) — The following is the full text of remarks delivered by Hon. Mark Brantley, Premier of Nevis and Senior 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.
It is indeed a high honour and sincere privilege for me to give brief remarks at this critical and all important forum. This 2nd Bi-Annual Regional Forum on sustainable Development goals affords us the opportunity to give focused attention to all of the 2030 development goals but more specifically to SDG 3 and 5, Good Health and well-being, and Gender Equality.
It is informative to note that on January 2016, the Sustainable Development Goals succeeded the Millennium Development Goals as the new internationally accepted Development Goals. The SDG however, proved to be much broader in scope and size than the Millennium Development Goals – moving from 8 goals and 22 targets to 17 goals and 169 targets.
In the Caribbean the 2030 Agenda provides for us the opportunity to further our Development vision. It is a plan of action for the prosperity and well being of our people and our region. However, for us to achieve the full benefits of the Sustainable Development goals Governments in the region must recognise the importance of these goals and implement them into their development plans. They must also devise meaningful ways to achieve these goals within their own individual national context and circumstances. I must emphasise the term “within our national context and circumstance” because there are numerous challenges faced by our region in implementing the 2030 SDGs. Chief among these challenges is our chronic indebtedness. For many countries in our sub-region high levels of public debt, fiscal deficits, and high unemployment are proving to be hindrances in our capacity to achieve these goals.
It is quite evident from the theme of this Forum that rapt and special attention will be given to advancing health and gender balance in the OECS sub-region. The 2030 Agenda provides for strong political commitment to public health. It states that “to promote physical and mental health and well-being, and to extend life expectancy for all, we must achieve universal health coverage and access to quality health care. No one must be left behind.” Clearly, Health and well being for all is the cornerstone of the 2030 sustainable development Agenda. There is an interdependency and interconnectedness between health and development. Without health, many of the other SDGs cannot be achieved. A healthy people are better able to contribute to the development of a nation. As it has so often been expressed “the health of a nation is the wealth of a nation.”
Achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls is the linchpin of SDG 5. Promoting Gender equality and ending all forms of discrimination against women and girls is not only a human right but it is crucial in accelerating sustainable Development.
Within our sub-region, we have made great strides in creating a gender balance, yet there is still much room for improvement. Violence against women continues to be a problem in the home, in public places and at work. Such violence has had a negative impact on their possibilities of generating their own income, starting their own businesses and developing themselves personally and professionally. Sexual violence continues to challenge our region and femicide – the killing of a women or girls, still bedevils us. I am persuaded that if such manifestations of gender inequality continues, our achievement of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals will not be realised.
This morning, I pledge my Government’s full support in promoting women rights and equality as we recognise that by this action we would be strengthening our democracy and attaining inclusive and sustainable development.
At this juncture, it gives me great pleasure in declaring the start of this 2nd Bi- Annual Regional Forum on the Sustainable Development Goals. I trust that your participation and deliberation will prove to be productive, insightful and successful.