“The universal high purpose of the seventy first United Nations general assembly is momentum on the 2030 agenda for sustainable development and achieving progress on all 17 goals,” declares elected president of the UNGA Peter Thompson. Questionably, how will the directive of shifting policy strategies and the flow of capital toward areas of investment that advance global efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals including the climate goal and the task of equality for all include Caribbean states?
While reports on Sustainable Development Goals for the Caribbean within the post 2015 development agenda suggest that “sustainable development goals will only be successful if Caribbean member states endorse an involved method that includes civil society, the private sector, and dialogues on academic, political, and business spheres;” innovative solutions are also urgently needed to tackle the demands of climate change and gender inequality in the Caribbean.
It is clear that Caribbean islands are experiencing climate change more quickly and visibly than other nations. Caribbean states are sinking deeper into the abyss of poverty and dehumanizing living and working conditions and are compressed with the malady of food security, marine and coastal resources and dependence on foreign aid and markets for financial growth. This problem create a flux on global markets resulting in alarming debt burdens, that leave them vulnerable to economic problems, and dependence on imports for food and energy.
Given these circumstances, prices are spiking upwards as climate change exacerbate droughts and floods in the Caribbean. Money for poverty alleviation and other social services, or for economic development are instead side-tracked to the deadly impacts of climate change. World Health Organization (WHO) statistics calculate 140,000 deaths annually as a consequence of climate unpredictability in the Caribbean. These painful bearings are incessant, irrespective of the fact that Caribbean nations contribute diminutively to the release of greenhouse gases that drive climate change in the world at large.
Elaborating further, contrary to the equality factor contained in the UN Sustainable Development Goals, violence and stigmatization towards the gay and lesbian community are peak in the Caribbean. Eradication of criminal penalties for homosexuality and to all forms of violence against LGBT still continue to defy United Nation Declaration of Human Rights, on sexual orientation and gender identity.
Therefore, in order for Caribbean states to move forward towards Sustainable United Nations Development Goals, required procedures must also be in place to urge Caribbean states to end all criminal forms of violence against homosexual persons as well.
In this regards, it is good for United Nations Assistant Secretary General and UN Development Programme (UNDP) Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean Jessica Faieta to suggest that the United Nation’s “holistic approach will improve people’s lives and help countries in the Caribbean to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, boost climate resilience, end poverty in all its forms and leave no one behind.”
But how is this holistic approach to be achieved when homosexuality is a criminal offense on the Caribbean island of Dominica, and where illegal political movements and partisan extremism continue to undermine the electoral process?
To further state that “governments should be able to implement combined public policies and interventions that foster inclusive growth,” flouts the chief practitioners of unequal treatment, the repression of social welfare programs for the rights of children, and dictatorial practices that corrode the swift flow of the democratic process in the Caribbean.
It would be folly to disregard the lessons learnt from the previous Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in this holistic approach. Equality in all its forms, food security, health, and good democratic governance must be interrelatedly addressed if progress is to be seen on the social and economic fronts. According to UNGA seventy president Mogens Lykketoft, “there can be no sustainable development without peace and security and respect for human rights.”
Moreover, the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin American and the Caribbean (ECLAC) prediction that “countries in the Caribbean will face a “bleak and complex economic situation in 2016 as they take a marked step backwards,” also draw attention to the fact that evaluation of eligibility standards to access concessional financing for Caribbean countries is of paramount importance. Poor countries in the Caribbean are unable to participate in areas of research and policy analysis because of inadequate working and financing institutions.
The UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) offer an exclusive prospect to address social, economic, and environmental openings in the Caribbean, but innovative policies are also needed to combat the dictatorial impediments and dysfunctional regimes that hinder growth and progress.
If Caribbean states must make ‘a special case for development,’ then, the UN Sustainable Development Goals must also make provisions for immediate execution of protection policies and environmental justice to ensure the public good in order to fulfill its plausibility of structuring a better world.