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Furbert: Bermuda must use its voice on international stage

Ongoing work: Tinée Furbert, the Minister of Youth, Social Development and Seniors, sits with other attendees the United Nations fourth International Conference on Small Island Developing States in Antigua & Barbuda’s capital, St John’s (Photograph supplied)

SIDS4, the United Nations fourth International Conference on Small-Island Developing States, continues in St John’s, Antigua.

Tinée Furbert, the Minister of Youth, Social Development and Seniors, is Bermuda’s sole government representative in attendance.

Mia Mottley, the Prime Minister of Barbados, and Easton Taylor-Farrell, Premier of Montserrat, are two of many island leaders in attendance, advocating on behalf of their fellow small island nations and territories.

Speaking from the American University of Antigua’s main campus, the location for the bulk of SIDS4 discussions, Ms Furbert shared her insights on this week’s happenings — and emphasised the importance of Bermuda ensuring its presence is felt in these international gatherings.

“Bermuda representatives must use their voice by continuing to be participatory and sharing their existence, networking and collaborating with other full and associate members of SIDS and ELAC.

“Bermuda must work for visibility globally. It is not enough to say we do a good job and keep it local.”

A point of contention touched on by Ms Furbert is Bermuda’s inability to voice its concerns at the SIDS4 plenary talks.

The country’s status as a British Overseas Territory means that Britain advocates on our behalf, despite Bermuda and its sibling Overseas Territories bearing the brunt of climate-related fallout.

Could hosting more internationally significant events, such as SIDS4, be a viable development strategy for Bermuda?

Ms Furbert envisions Bermuda using its economic relevance and geographic vulnerabilities to raise awareness on the global stage, especially at events like SIDS4 and the United Nations annual climate change conferences.

She said: “Bermuda should hold similar events within its capacity. Such activity can energise and grow relationships, build our capacity and our economy, which in turn will create significant opportunities for Bermuda.”

An initiative that encompasses those goals is a multi-partner scheme that sees collaboration between the United Nations Development Programme, UN Women Caribbean, the Government of Bermuda, and local Bermuda stakeholders.

Ms Furbert pointed to the shared global struggles, such as the recent Covid-19 pandemic and past financial crises, as catalysts for a renewed interests in multilateral endeavours.

“The ongoing work of Bermuda, UNDP and UN Women Caribbean gives Bermuda the opportunity to share with other countries what we do well and what we need assistance with.

“Bermuda is also able to demonstrate how development funds have an impact on people’s lives and how the seeding creates a catalytic response and collaborate opportunity to work with other organisations.”

Plenary discussions taking place at SIDS4 — the place where policy is determined and funding allocation is announced — do not include Bermuda or the other British Overseas Territories, barring Bermuda stakeholders from having a proverbial seat at a very important table.

Ms Furbert acknowledges this fact as a drawback of our dependent status, but says she leaves SIDS4 with an optimistic takeaway:

“I love my home country Bermuda more and more — we are doing many things well. The SIDS conference had a heavy focus on the environment.

“Bermuda and its people have shown its skill, foresight, development and leadership in this area that we should expand upon and claim as significant.”

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Published May 30, 2024 at 7:55 am (Updated May 30, 2024 at 7:54 am)

Furbert: Bermuda must use its voice on international stage

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