UWI Experts Advocate for the Caribbean Region at Upcoming SIDS4 Conference

by May 27, 2024

A contingent of over two dozen academics and leaders from The University of the West Indies (The UWI) will participate in the 4th International Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS4) in Antigua and Barbuda from May 27 to 30, 2024. The Conference, will convene under the theme ‘Charting the Course Toward Resilient Prosperity’ and promises to be a significant event for advancing the agenda of small island nations.

Recognised globally as the foremost authority on SIDS, The UWI’s expertise is unparalleled and well-documented and its team of experts will play a pivotal role in leading and contributing to critical dialogues and to exploring solution-driven strategies to address the most pressing issues. One of the major expected outcomes for the conference is the adoption of a new programme of action for SIDS, along with the political declaration to support its implementation.

Held once every decade, the conference brings together leaders from the UN’s 39 independent States and 18 Associate Members, regional commissions and other world leaders, officials, and experts from the private sector, academia and civil society, to tackle the unique challenges facing SIDS. SIDS4 represents a full circle moment for the Caribbean, hosting the event 30 years after the first SIDS meeting convened in Rio de Janeiro in 1992.

As a regional hub for knowledge exchange, research, and capacity building, The UWI, represented by its five campuses and related specialist centres, will showcase an interdisciplinary team at the conference. This includes the Global Institute for Climate Smart and Resilient Development (GICSRD), the Sir Arthur Lewis Institute of Social and Economic Studies (SALISES), the Centre of Excellence for Oceanography and the Blue Economy, the Centre for Resource Management and Environmental Studies, the Institute for Sustainable Development and the Office of Global Affairs.

The UWI’s participation in SIDS4 underscores its ongoing commitment to driving sustainable development in the Caribbean region. Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sir Hilary Beckles emphasized that, “The UWI has been in the vanguard of the sustainable development discourse for more than two decades and our academics continue to actively engage with policymakers and practitioners in devising innovative solutions for our region.  It is a point of pride for me to note the diverse disciplines and considerable expertise that The UWI team members attending SIDS4 bring to bear on addressing the unique challenges faced by our Caribbean countries in achieving their sustainable development targets.”

Professor Michelle Mycoo, an Urban and Regional Planning expert from The UWI St Augustine Campus is among the scientists in the University contingent, participating in a dual role as a member of the SIDS Liaison Committee of the International Science Council. According to Professor Mycoo, “Scientists must lead the way in telling the narrative of the significant issues confronting our people and the planet. SIDS face geographical challenges as well as economic constraints, but science provides an opportunity to inform policies and practices which address those developmental challenges, and challenges related to the use of environmental resources. This meeting provides an opportunity to address some of those issues and to find solutions.”

Presenting on Generative AI & 4IR Superpowers in Shaping a Resilient and Thriving Future for SIDS is Dr. Curtis Charles, Director of Academic Affairs at The UWI Five Islands Campus in Antigua. He highlighted, “The 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR) is ushering in a new era of unprecedented technological change, and Generative AI is at the forefront of this transformation. In this interactive workshop, we will explore how SIDS can harness the power of these cutting-edge technologies to build a more resilient and thriving future.”

Participating as a panelist in a side-event hosted by the Government of St Kitts and Nevis, titled Towards Sustainable Island States: Tackling Human Capital and Health Crises in the Caribbean, is Pro Vice-Chancellor, Global Affairs, Sandrea Maynard. During the SIDS4 conference, The UWI is expected to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with the Government of St. Kitts and Nevis. Additionally, there will be an official launch for the University’s Centre for Oceanography and the Blue Economy (COBE) at The UWI Five Islands Campus. This initiative involves a partnership with the Government of Antigua and Barbuda and the Association of Commonwealth Universities.

Incoming Director for the Centre for Excellence for Oceanography and the Blue Economy, Dr. Branson Belle noted that the SIDS4 conference is an ideal place for the next phase in growth of the Centre.  “With activity ramping up at the Centre for Excellence for Oceanography and the Blue Economy, SIDS4 represents a unique opportunity to engage with our present and future potential collaborators, customers and donors.” Concretising such partnerships is a key part in the global agenda of the centre, he concluded.