Thursday, May 27, 2021 — The SDM 2020 Ambassadors played a key role in attracting participants and generating meaningful and passionate discussion on matters of sustainable development in the lead up to the 2020 Sustainable Development (SDM) summit – hosting a total of 32 pre-summit events that reached 280,000+ persons across the globe.
The Award Ceremony, held on May 14, served to honour the remarkable achievements of the first cohort of ambassadors and to welcome the new recruits joining the 2021 movement.
In his opening remarks, the Director General of the OECS, Dr. Didacus Jules, expressed sincere gratitude to the Ambassadors for their tremendous efforts to promote the inaugural SDM Summit through their various platforms, highlighting the mutually beneficial nature of the partnership.
"The great thing about the Ambassadors Programme is that it provides you with the latitude to follow your passion and align that passion to the sustainable development goals of the United Nations (UN) and to the accelerated integration ambition of the OECS. That gives you a platform to position your passion and to move it forward in a way that is well grounded in a wider agenda."
Given recent regional and global challenges, Dr. Jules reflected on the raison d'être of the Summit and the importance it now holds in the current climate.
"Those of you who have been associated with the SDM are fully aware, this was an innovation started within the OECS as a means of reaching out to a much wider audience, to take a more inclusive approach to solve the challenges of regional integration.
If anything would have been learned from this period of time, where we are faced with a series of crises one after the other – from the pandemic, to the volcanic eruption and the floods in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, to the economic meltdown of our economies – it is that we need to take a radically different approach to the challenges of development for small island development states."
The performance of the French Ambassadors was particularly highlighted due to the reach of the activities and the facilitation of partnerships with private sector entities in the French Member States.
Head of Development Cooperation at the OECS Commission and mastermind behind the SDM, Lisa Taylor-Stone, noted the importance of this collaboration towards deeper cooperation and integration with Martinique and Guadeloupe.
"One of the things that we ended up doing for SDM was to deliver the entire summit in French, and since then all of the events associated with the Sustainable Development Movement have been delivered in French because we want to break down the barriers. We also want to bring to the fore the integration of French entrepreneurs and we want to allow other entrepreneurs, not just from within the Eastern Caribbean but external to the Eastern Caribbean as well, to penetrate those markets. For us at the Commission, inclusion is so absolutely critical."
Taylor-Stone added that:
"Just under 700,000 persons live within the OECS Member States, and there is a global audience that exists outside of the Eastern Caribbean. We've opened up our programme to the entire world, because we understand that being exclusive doesn't serve our purpose. We want, not just to push the agenda of small island development states but, to really think and pivot from the perspective of large ocean developing economies, because this is who we are."
Certificates of Endowment and Achievement were presented to the following Ambassadors for their invaluable contributions towards the successful staging of the 2020 SDM Summit:
Alberta Richelieu, SDM Ambassador from Saint Lucia, delivered the closing remarks and encouraged the new ambassadors to act to ensure that all the Sustainable Development Goals are achieved.
"We are calling, not only for change, but we are calling for action – action that will promote sustainable development and action that is important for the future generations," Richelieu said.
On behalf of the ambassadors, Host of the Awards Ceremony and an SDM Ambassador from Saint Lucia, Tember Cadette, thanked the OECS Commission for "such a great opportunity and for giving us a platform to further enhance the work of sustainable development."
The SDM 2020 created new channels of cooperation and laid the foundation for strong multi-stakeholder partnerships involving Governments, private sector, development partners, community and civic organisations in a more inclusive and cohesive manner than ever before. All sectors recognised that our survival, as a Caribbean civilisation, depended on our capacity and determination to work together.
The 2021 iteration of the SDM Summit is positioned to fast-track the fruition of the Eastern Caribbean Economic Union through disruptions, solid innovations and agility thereby fostering exponential growth and inclusion for all.