THE NEW secretary general of the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) nations, Dr Patrick Gomes, yesterday called for a “permanent forum” focused on special needs of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) as a joint venture with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
The proposal was made by the long-standing Guyanese ambassador to Brussels in addressing a special session of the ‘Committee of Ambassadors’ in his new elected capacity as secretary general of the 79-nation ACP Secretariat last December.
Noting that yesterday’s meeting coincided with the 40th anniversary of the ACP since its inauguration in June 1975, Dr Gomes stressed that the mere growth in numerical strength, encouraging as it has been, must now come to terms with today’s challenges.
And he views as a current challenge “for this unique inter-governmental organisation” (the ACP), the pursuit of creative initiatives such as the establishment of a “permanent forum on SIDS” as a possible joint venture with the UNDP .
Ambassador Gomes, who held various regional positions within the Caribbean community, is familiar with the results of the inaugural SIDS conference hosted by Barbados in 1994.
He noted that within the ACP Group there were now 33 SIDS members as a bloc of states playing a most useful role in implementation of what’s known as the “Samoa pathway” and guided by recommendations of a working group.
Hence, his advocacy for the establishment of a “permanent forum on SIDS” and, hopefully as a joint venture of the UNDP.
Dr Gomes also disclosed that arrangements were currently under way for the ACP’s eighth summit of heads of state and government at which the proposed SIDS initiative would be determined.
He said that “a distinctive and defining feature of the current 2015-2020 administration (which he heads) and a critical challenge to engage energy and political savvy of the ACP Group as a whole must be the effective mechanism and modalities by which to participate in diversified partnerships across the Global South by 2020...”