NATCOM (SKN)- Basseterre: November 5, 2014: In its intervention before the governing body of UNESCO, (the Executive Board), the official representative of the Government of St. Kitts and Nevis commended UNESCO’s role in putting oceans, and their concomitant importance to Small Island developing states, on the priority list of activities in the post-2015 period.
Leading the St. Kitts and Nevis delegation to the 195th session of the Executive Board, Mr. Antonio Maynard, Secretary-General of the National Commission for UNESCO, who represented Minister of Education with responsibility for UNESCO Affairs, Hon. Nigel Carty, underlined the critical importance of UNESCO’s work in dealing with climate change and its adverse effects on oceans, in the United Nations’ 38 Small Island Developing States (SIDS).
Mr. Maynard stated that “the recent Samoa 3rd International SIDS Conference has vested UNESCO with a renewed and fresh mandate for SIDS. “My delegation commends the Director-General for her particular focus at Samoa on Oceans”. He went on to say that this fresh emphasis given to oceans came on the “heels of existing compelling work by the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) in the Caribbean Region and SIDS in general”. The UNESCO-led IOC has been successful in “fulfilling the core role in helping us to anticipate, adapt, and mitigate, the effects of storms, hurricanes and Tsunami in the Caribbean region, with its far-reaching ITC-led early warning systems”.
“Recent expert research in the field indicates that the Caribbean region faces imminent risk from a mega-tsunami, which scientists predict could devastate coastlines across our Region”. But he added “We simply are not fully prepared as yet”.
An effective IOC-installed monitoring and advanced warning system, Mr. Maynard asserted, “would not only save lives, but could also safeguard our educational infrastructure, and increase the capacity of our citizens to respond in a timely fashion to these natural disasters, within a coordinated network of Caribbean National early-warning systems”.
In his intervention before 57 other Executive Board members in Paris, Mr. Maynard alluded to the need for UNESCO to forge a “distinct and relevant agenda on behalf of its Member States beyond the post-2015 developmental agenda. This must include a unique and critical role for UNESCO especially on behalf of SIDS, who represents some 20 percent of the UN membership”. He cautioned, however, that given the limited resources, UNESCO could not deliver on all fronts. “We thus call for an effort to collectively identify a small number of focused priority activities, backed by strategic and synergistic partnerships, to ensure optimal impact”.
This would require, said Mr. Maynard, “an overhaul of the extra-budgetary programme, and especially for a more targeted mobilization of resources, based on inter-active exchange between Headquarters, the field offices, and National Commissions”.
The role of National Commissions also elicited much discussion during the Executive Board session, and during the breakout sessions of the subsidiary bodies. Their role was critical, according to Maynard, in identifying priorities on the ground in Member States, and forging links between UNESCO Head Quarters and cluster offices serving the different regions, such as the Jamaica office in the Caribbean region.
Mr. Maynard also sighted in his intervention, the first successful Inter-Regional meeting of National Commissions for UNESCO as a huge success, held recently in Kazakhstan, which he attended. He said that a clearer and more focused path emerged in ensuring optimal participation of national commissions in the work of UNESCO. “The over-riding conclusion from this meeting was the need for a robust relationship, linking the National Commissions and the field offices”. He urged that the Secretariat move assertively in upgrading the present guidelines, “thereby creating a new mechanism and modus operandi governing the relationship between the National Commissions and the cluster offices”.
The Official Representative of St. Kitts and Nevis to the Executive Board concluded by calling on UNESCO’s expertise and comparative advantage in this area, to “fast-track its efforts in providing a policy frame-work and assisting Member States to update their legislation”.