Irina Bokova meets the Prime Minister of Barbados
On 14 June, UNESCO Director-General Irirna Bokova met with Prime Minister Freundel Stuart. She paid tribute to the important role that Barbados is performing in UNESCO’s Executive Board, through the chairmanship of Ms. Alissandra Cummins.
The Director-General underscored the importance of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in UNESCO’s agenda, with particular reference to education for sustainable development, cultural heritage, both tangible and intangible, oceans governance, climate change, coastal hazards and their impact on populations, as well as the capacity building of media professionals. She highlighted the place of culture as an essential pillar of sustainable development, as well as the need for curriculum reform, strengthening technical and vocational education in SIDS, and teacher professional development.
Referring to the extreme vulnerability of SIDS, Ms Bokova underlined the necessity to adopt well-developed educational and public awareness programmes in order to prepare people and empower them with the knowledge and understanding required in the event of a disaster.
The Director-General emphasized the opportunity given by the forthcoming Rio+20 Conference to improve the use of knowledge and to strengthen collaboration and coordination in support of sustainable development in SIDS.
The Director-General commended the Prime Minister for his membership of the High-level Panel of the UN Secretary-General on Global Sustainability.
Thanking the Director-General for her visit, the Prime Minister expressed his satisfaction for the fruitful relations that exist between UNESCO and Barbados since it became a Member State and assured her of his country’s continuous commitment to the Organization. He recalled the strong relations between UNESCO and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), though the current Memorandum of Understanding between the two organizations would require updating.
The Prime Minister highlighted the need for the issue of climate change to remain as a priority in the international agenda, and for action be taken to raise awareness about the vulnerability of SIDS and to secure the necessary financial support for the implementation of risk-mitigation programmes in small island developing states. He thanked UNESCO for the progress that has been made towards the establishment of the Caribbean Tsunami Information Center (CTIC), which he had offered to host in Barbados in his former capacity as Minister of Home Affairs.
Finally, referring to Rio+20, the Prime Minister highlighted some shared priorities with UNESCO, including ocean governance as well as blue-green economies and societies.
On that same day, the Director-General also met with the United Nations Country Team, led by the UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative, Ms. Michelle Gyles-McDonnough. On this occasion, she spoke about the priority given to SIDS in UNESCO programme actions and the important role she accords to inter-agency cooperation.