SDGs in review: Barbados “Where we are and where we need to go"
19 July 2023
This blog was written by Didier Trebucq, Resident Coordinator in Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, with editorial support from UNDCO.
This month, the Government of Barbados presented its second Voluntary National Review (VNR) to the UN High Level Political Forum in New York; representing an important moment to take stock of the country’s progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and, as Prime Minister Mia Mottley framed it, an opportunity for “a family conversation - to check where we are and where we need to go.”
Setting a baseline
According to the 2022 Sustainable Development Report Barbados ranks number 73 out of 163 countries, and scores above the regional average. The country’s efforts towards achieving long-term sustainable development hinge on the implementation of national policies, programmes and indigenous solutions which work across three pillars of society, economy, and the environment.
Among key areas of focus are renewable energy, green and blue economy growth, public health and safety, climate resilience, culture, social protection, and economic transformation, all aimed at promoting a more inclusive society that leaves no one behind.
Understanding exactly where Barbados is on its journey towards long-term sustainable development depends on the availability of reliable data and sound analysis. Under my leadership as Resident Coordinator, the UN Barbados Multi-Country Office supported the Government through this important part of the VNR process; working with them to finalise two critical reports – the National SDG Mapping Report and Rapid Integrated Assessment (RIA) Report, as well as mobilising the entire UN Sub-regional Team, including UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), to support the preparation of the VNR Report and its widespread consultations.
A bird’s eye view of progress
According to the SDG Mapping Report, Barbados made substantial progress with 43 of 95 SDG targets having been already met or likely to be met by 2030, and 52 of the 95 targets showing fair progress. All together the Report highlighted 89 national initiatives that were supporting the Global Goals and helping the country move closer to its national SDG theme of ‘Creating a Sustainable Future for Generations to Come.’
The Rapid Integrated Assessment (RIA), which was based on an analysis of 27 national policy documents, including sectoral plans, national strategies, and legislation, revealed that 92% were either fully or partially aligned to the SDGS, with 48% aligned with gender and disability inclusion targets.
Barbados’ commitment to the Global Goals is reflected particularly strongly through the Declaration Mission Barbados, a national social compact which aims to ensure prosperity and resilience for all.
The Bridgetown Initiative is another flagship programme which is helping move the needle on the mobilisation of climate finance for vulnerable nations and the reform of global financial architecture.
The Barbados Economic Recovery and Transformation (BERT) Plan on the other hand, focuses on addressing fiscal stability, debt reduction and sustainable growth; another critical area of SDG financing and efforts to create a more sustainable economic growth model.
Significant strides for the SDGs
Progress, however, is never achieved alone. As Barbados’ Permanent Representative to the United Nations, François Jackman, remarked recently at a Global Multi-Stakeholder SIDS Partnership Dialogue, our UN team, under the leadership of the Resident Coordinator system is playing an important role in bringing together key stakeholders “in the right time in the right place.”
Through these innovative partnerships and regional cooperation, our UN team is proud to have supported the Government’s substantial progress across all 17 goals, with notable strides on SDG 1 - poverty reduction, SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being, SDG 4 - Quality Education, SDG 7 - Affordable and Clean Energy and SDG 13 - Climate Action.
As part of our joint efforts to address the triple crisis of food, fuel and finance, which was sparked by the COVID-19 pandemic and compounded the war in Ukraine, we helped organise a roundtable with international financial institutions and different actors from the private sector to advance integrated policy solutions. On top of this UNDP worked with the authorities to scale up national security mechanisms, FAO helped to address financing constraints in the fisheries and aquaculture sectors, and WFP ensured that over 12, 000 of the country’s most vulnerable people received food assistance during last year alone.
Headway has also been made towards the priority issue of climate action. Ahead of the Stockholm +50 meeting last year; an international summit which called for bold environmental action to accelerate the SDGs, UNDP organised a series of consultations with young people across the country, which helped identify their priorities and ensured their voices were heard in Barbados’ climate transition.
On the promise to Leave No One Behind, we have worked to improve services for Gender-Based Violence survivors and, thanks to the joint efforts of UN Women and UNFPA, helped strengthen national capacity for the collection of sex aggregated data and gender statistics to make economic policy more gender-informed and improve childcare opportunities.
With progress towards SDG10 – reducing inequalities- slower than other goals, we must work closely with the national authorities to ensure that vulnerable groups, including young people, women, the elderly, sexual minorities, and people living with disabilities remain at the heart of our efforts going forward.
The road ahead
At the halfway mark towards the 2030 Agenda, it is clear that the road ahead for Barbados, like other Small Island Developing States in the Eastern Caribbean will not be a straightforward one.
Yet, with the resolute commitment of the Government, along with the support of the whole UN Development System and other development partners, I know we can close the remaining gaps in Barbados’ sustainable development journey.
UN Resident Coordinator in Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean (Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, British Virgin Islands, Dominica, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Grenada)