Basseterre, St. Kitts, April 17, 2019 (SKNIS): As a small island developing state (SIDS), there are many risks that St. Kitts and Nevis faces that include its economic, social and environmental landscape, hence the need to build resilience using an all hands on deck approach to confront these numerous challenges, says Nevisian-born Professor Dr. Jessica Byron-Reid, Director of the University of the West Indies Institute of International Relations at the St. Augustine Campus, Trinidad.
Professor Byron-Reid’s comments were made while addressing a robust crowd at a lecture that formed part of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Aviation’s recently concluded 2019 Diplomatic Week activities held in St. Kitts and Nevis from April 7-12 under the theme: “Securing a Resilient Future through Strategic Diplomacy and Effective Dialogue”.
“…it is logical for resilience building against climate change and natural disasters to be an ongoing feature of Caribbean, regional and global cooperation agenda. In this, it is important to recognize the crucial role of regional cooperation and regional agencies,” said Dr. Reid.
She added that several things must be considered when building resilience.
“It is important also to recognize that we can’t build resilience against natural disasters without building our local democracy networks, having large scale community participation in agenda setting, budgetary decision making, and in agreeing to evacuation procedures,” she said. “And we need to continue public education on things like building codes, not building too close to the coast or cutting down the forest… and other public education that will strengthen resilience and good disaster management.”
Dr. Byron-Reid spoke briefly on resilience building and St. Kitts and Nevis.
“I think that much of our resilience related policies and the diplomatic focus of the past decade have focused on the search to regain macro-economic stability, and our diplomacy has been extremely energetic in terms of negotiating economic and financial resilience building in the transition away from sugar production,” she said.
She noted however, that “there may be the need still to crucially examine the long term sustainability of our economic programmes.
“There is certainly, always, the need to continue diversifying economic activity and growth patterns, placing the emphasis on sustainability and resilience building against the many risks that we face,” said Dr. Byron-Reid. “We are extremely small, we have a fairly narrow economic base… and this means that these are potential risk factors. And so, diversification, prudent fiscal management, strong governance of the country’s economic assets and the focus on transparency and accountability to the population as a whole are crucial for economic resilience building.”
The lecture was attended by St. Kitts and Nevis’ Governor General, Sir S.W. Tapley Seaton, Members of Cabinet, Members of the Diplomatic and Consular Corps, as well as members of the public private sector.