On 23 June 2020, the Hon. Jonel Powell, newly appointed Minister of Education, Youth Sport and Culture, received his first in-depth briefing on the Federation’s active participation in, and activities at UNESCO, a division which is part of his portfolio.
In a one-hour virtual session Ambassador to UNESCO in Paris, Dr. David Doyle, and Ms. Dorothy Warner, Secretary-General of the St. Kitts and Nevis National Commission for UNESCO, updated Minister Powell on some of the benefits that the country has derived over the past years. They outlined plans for continuing to access expertise and technical assistance spanning UNESCO’s mandate in education, science, culture, heritage and information and communication. Also in attendance were PS-Education, William Hodge and Mrs. Shirmel Henry, Project Officer.
Ambassador Doyle noted that since 2006, in collaboration with the former Secretary General Mr. Antonio Maynard, St. Kitts and Nevis had secured some US$1.4m for direct and indirect technical assistance. Some of the pivotal areas of the Federation’s interaction with UNESCO included the first-ever in-depth review of the education strategy, the creation of a UNESCO Man and Biosphere Reserve in St. Mary’s Cayon, adhesion to the influential UNESCO World Heritage Committee for a four year term. Other activities include a few UNESCO high-level events held in the Federation – some at Caribbean Ministerial level. These cover climate change, Sustainable Water Strategy and Underwater Cultural Heritage.
Focusing on future UNESCO projects, Ambassador Doyle and Ms. Warner presented the immediate priorities. Notably, they include our continued participation at the World Heritage Committee at which St. Kitts and Nevis remains the only SIDS member; the preparation of a revised Tentative List of potential heritage sites in the twin-island federation; the completion of an inventory of intangible cultural heritage items (grant-aided with US$100,000), and the recent submission of a request for technical assistance to guide St. Kits and Nevis in developing a policy framework to safeguard the diversity of cultural expressions.
The National Commission is awaiting funding for several projects which include continuing work on a gender equity policy initiative and professionalizing the SKN teaching force; strengthening the national accreditation board for the recognition of higher education diplomas and optimizing the use of natural catchments and aquifers to facilitate the availability of freshwater throughout the Federation.
Ambassador Doyle remarked with much pride that at the end of May, St. Kitts and Nevis had completed a National Sport Policy framework initiative with the financial and technical support of UNESCO. It now awaits review by Cabinet. Minister Powell was very pleased to be informed of the workings of the SKN National Commission for UNESCO especially so soon after taking office. He has pledged his support and expressed amazement about and pleasure in the fact that “Despite limited resources, St. Kitts and Nevis continues to hit ‘above its weight’ at UNESCO by prioritizing the areas of expertise that contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals”.