Antigua and Barbuda made its mark during the 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly, by engaging with world leaders and pronouncing on various issues affecting island nations globally.
Prime Minister, Gaston Browne, addressed the Assembly on several pressing concerns, including the adverse effects of the climate crisis on small states, the development of a Multidimensional Vulnerability Index, and the humanitarian crisis in Haiti.
Antigua and Barbuda also achieved significant outcomes during the session by executing two major side events.
The International Finance and Energy Transition Diplomacy held on September 18 brought together high-ranking officials from SIDS and non-SIDS countries to discuss and recommend on the energy transition in SIDS for the next 10-year agenda.
The recommendations will be adopted at the 4th International Conference to be held in Antigua and Barbuda in May 2024.
During the United Nations General Assembly on September 21, Prime Minister Gaston Browne hosted a High-Level Breakfast with fellow Prime Ministers and Ministers of Health to discuss the issue of eye health.
The goal of this meeting was to ensure that eye health remains central to achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
The discussion took place on the sidelines of the General Assembly, which brought positive attention to Antigua and Barbuda’s leadership on another critical global issue that affects millions of people worldwide.
As the founding chair of the United Nations Friends of Vision, Antigua and Barbuda signed a memorandum of understanding on a Partnership for the Establishment of the SIDS Global Data Hub.
This tripartite signing among Antigua and Barbuda, the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), and the PVBLIC Foundation laid the groundwork for the establishment of a partnership that utilizes data and mobilizes the Family Offices for Sustainable Development to help Small Island Developing States (SIDS) achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.
This partnership will also implement the new Programme of Action for SIDS 2024-2034, which will be adopted at the Fourth SIDS Conference in Antigua and Barbuda from May 27-30, 2022.
In reflecting on the General Assembly, Antigua and Barbuda’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations Ambassador Walton Webson noted that this year’s General Assembly yielded strong outcomes on crucial matters that are at the very top of Antigua and Barbuda’s agenda in ensuring a better and brighter future for the country and its people.
Furthermore, the meeting ended with a clarion call to support the call for a UN Secretary-General Envoy on Vision and ensure eye health is included in national reporting, such as the Voluntary National Reviews.
During a recent engagement with fellow leaders, Prime Minister Browne and a high-level delegation of colleagues ministers have received widespread support for their leadership on the Multidimensional Vulnerability Index and preparations for the upcoming SIDS4 Conference in Antigua and Barbuda.
Ambassador Webson noted that the country has received strong pledges of support for the conference, which will serve as the launching pad for a Centre of Excellence. This Centre will act as the nerve centre for the type of data that Small Island Developing States (SIDS) lack in developmental planning and strengthen their case for financial assistance when needed.
The international conference of island nations will be held in Antigua and Barbuda from May 27th to 30th next year.
In addition to this, Antigua and Barbuda has become one of the first signatories to the BBNJ Treaty, and Health Minister Sir Molwyn Joseph’s presence at the UNGA ensured that the country’s voice continues to be heard on major health and plastic pollution issues.
Ambassador Webson added that the signing of the BBNJ Treaty, which was done by the Foreign Affairs Minister, was yet another clear message on Antigua and Barbuda’s position on the climate crisis and their commitment to ensuring that their oceans are protected.
Ambassador Webson commended Prime Minister Browne for his insightful and discerning leadership on pressing issues and his forceful yet skillful negotiations at the bilateral level on a number of matters with the country’s development partners, including Venezuela, Ireland, the Dominican Republic and Saudi Arabia.
He also heaped praise on the country’s delegation who attended this year’s General Assembly and on all Mission staff members whose supportive role ensured that Antigua and Barbuda was prominently and effectively represented at all times.
Ambassador Webson expressed gratitude to the delegation of Ministers who accompanied Prime Minister Browne to New York, including Health and Environment Minister Sir Molwyn Joseph and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade the Hon. EP Chet Greene.