(NATCOM) – Basseterre, 11th May, 2016: The Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis’ diligence at the UN specialized agency, UNESCO, seems to be paying off with the installment of two of its representatives as holders of key positions.
On the fringes of the 199th Executive Board held at UNESCO in Paris mid-April, the Federation’s Ambassador and Permanent Delegate to UNESCO, Dr. David P. Doyle, was confirmed as Chairman of the UNESCO Commonwealth Group, whilst Secretary General of the National Commission, Mr. Antonio Maynard, was elected Deputy Chairman of the UNESCO Finance and Administrative Commission (FA).
Both positions carry incredible scope for the advancement of critical issues pertaining to the advancement of the Federation’s UNESCO’s priority areas. St. Kitts and Nevis is active on the ground at UNESCO, via its permanent presence under Ambassador Doyle, and frequent interventions on the Executive Board by Mr. Maynard. The Federation interfaces with senior UNESCO Secretariat experts to secure technical capacity-building input and financing, which will include this year a UNESCO review of the Federation’s youth policy.
Stated Ambassador Doyle: “our election to the chairmanship of the Commonwealth Group at UNESCO comes at an auspicious time as UNESCO and the Commonwealth renew a memorandum of understanding, originally signed in 1980, to update and strength and cooperation between the two Organizations, especially in the fields of education, youth empowerment, and promoting intercultural dialogue”.
During the 199th Executive Board, he welcomed The Right Honourable Patricia Scotland, QC, and Commonwealth Secretary-General, to UNESCO on 15th April.
SKN’s Chairmanship of the Commonwealth group is especially significant because it coincides with UNESCO and the Commonwealth’s renewal of a memorandum of understanding, originally signed in 1980, to update and strengthen cooperation between the two Organizations, especially in the fields of education, youth empowerment, and promoting intercultural dialogue”.
Noted St. Kitts-Nevis’ National Commission Secretary-General, Mr. Maynard: “Our elevation to chairing the Commonwealth Group is part of our goal to seek ways of both contributing to UNESCO policy and securing influence. St. Kitts-Nevis was instrumental in creating and chairing, the SIDS Committee of Representatives to UNESCO between 2008 and 2015.
The Commonwealth Group at UNESCO consists of 54 Member States who meet regularly to discuss matters of common interest and issues touching on Commonwealth Countries, and share best practices on UNESCO fields of competences. Among other issues, the members strive to work on the objectives set by the Commonwealth Secretariat, a dedicated body based in London (UK), representing the former territories of the United Kingdom.
Mr. Maynard, Deputy Chairman of the UNESCO Finance and Administrative Commission (FA) reported that the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) action plan and implementation strategy, was approved. Among topics incorporated of specific interest to the Federation were the relevance for young disaffected men of the TVET strategy, vulnerabilities linked to freshwater resources and urgent action needed to react to climate change by strengthening science education and policy, transfer of marine technology linked to coastal adaptation and mitigation, and early-warning systems.
Other key issues raised were the funding constraints to be taken account of in dealing with vulnerability based on size, small populations, limited resources and remoteness from the international markets, as well as the damaging effects of climate change.
St Kitts and Nevis clearly depends on the outcome of such discussions in terms of multilateral and bilateral-level funding policy in contributing to funding the UNESCO SIDS action plan. St. Kitts-Nevis stressed the point that funding decisions needed to “take account of the fact that many SIDS already live on the front line of pockets of poverty, high unemployment, pollution, natural disasters and degradation of coastlines, tropical forests and coral reefs”.
Photo of: Ambassador David Doyle, Permanent Representative and Chairman of the Commonwealth Group at UNESCO; Hon Shawn Richards, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Education; and Mr. Antonio Maynard, Secretary-General of the St. Kitts and Nevis National Commission for UNESCO.