H.E. Mr. Stan O. Smith, Ambassador, Permanent Mission of Bahamas to the UN | Bahamas
H.E. Mr. Stan O. Smith is the Permanent Representative of Bahamas to the United Nations. Before his latest appointment, Ambassador Smith served as personal assistant to Prime Minister Perry Gladstone Christie from 2018 to 2021. He was Ambassador-at-Large between 2015 and 2017, Head of the Legal Division in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as well as a contributor to its United Nations teams on human rights. During that time, he also provided general foreign policy development support. Before his diplomatic career, Ambassador Smith practiced law in Barbados between 2005 and 2015. Earning a bachelor’s degree from St. Mary’s University in Canada, he is also a graduate of the University of the West Indies Law School.
|Event Title: SDGs Conference 2023||Date: Sept 20, 2023|
Excellencies, Honored Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, Members of the Journalists and Writers Foundation with the John Jay College of Criminal Justice,
I mark this a privilege, an honor and thank the organizers for this opportunity to discuss “Building a New Momentum Towards the 2030 Deadline for the SDGs” under the general theme “Transforming Our World”. I also take this opportunity to acknowledge the integral role that journalists and writers play in shaping public opinion, and informing the world in an increasingly, physically dangerous environment against journalists and writers. I express thanks for your commitment to covering the challenges and opportunities faced in seeking to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.
In January of this year, Foreign Policy published an article by Adam Tooze about the development profile of The Bahamas. The point of the article was that: the Climate Crisis has eliminated the resilience in The Bahamas’s economic model (Tourism; Financial Services and the Second Home Market) and we need innovations that can sustain socio-economic health against the volatility of the Climate Change landscape.
The annual cost of natural disasters to SIDS is $1Trillion. This is a perennial SIDS challenge to achieving the SDGs.
NOW, do we attempt to activate the politically unused regulations and policy reliefs of the international financial institutions? Do we continue to universalize the policies and individualize (bi-lateralize) the innovations dynamics?
OR, should we universalize the innovations dynamics and individualize policies? Do we address the SDGs, goal by goal? Do we invest in moonshot initiatives that create network effects more readily activating otherwise untapped capacities useful to, and meeting, the target of immediate community needs?
The development community must address the mechanics about how to arrive at sustainable, resilient prosperity that eliminates ‘genies in bottles’ from the search for and the discovery of sustainable innovations. The questions we ask 8 years after the adoption of the SDGs tells us this: our politics; our finance experts and our country’s interests, are not connected to one another on common global challenges; not by connected language, not by experience, not by vision.
Small Island Developing States are consumed by managing governance and lack implementation capacity; international financial institutions have nothing to lose that would incentivize commitment to reform; and development agencies lack scale. The Bahamas has made a pivot from this vacuum.
The reality is that:
- 1% of CARICOM state budgets are invested in science and technology;
- the Global North produces 60% of scientific literature;
- and 10 countries, not including The Bahamas, have absorbed 65% of World Bank loans.
The Government is now investing in understanding the science and the technology needed to benefit from the untapped ocean value in the archipelago. It has recently created a carbon market registry and will next offer a $500 million bond against the seagrass sequestration capacity in the country’s 100,000 square miles of blue economy potential.
Not long ago, I was waiting in line for a diplomat of more than four decades of accomplishment to sign my copy of his book. He asked one of my CARICOM colleagues who was at the front of the book-signing line: How does such a small country win a Nobel Prize? At that moment I realized that a country with $500 billion dollar GDP only wanted a Nobel Prize and hasn’t gotten one. The small country with a Nobel prize really wanted $500 billion GDP, and the challenge is how to get it.
We have each been winning alone, and we have each been structurally failing alone in the deficiencies of our resilience models. In one instance, I became aware of a small state that received development assistance on 40 projects, and every project failed because of that state’s lack of capacity to deliver the projects.
Here’s an essential question a SIDS expert asked a donor country partner:
- “Are SIDS states equipped for partnership engagement?”
Here was the reply:
- “[Country] assistance is likely needed at earlier phases of initiatives.”
Multilateralism has overemphasized bilateral solutions built on funding ourselves out of challenges. But we should be mindful that financing goals should not consume development ambitions into a solitary track. Funding is not the end of the development initiative. It is preparation for at least seven critical processes after 1st expertly, thoroughly, conceptualizing the initiative. We have, unfortunately, under-conceptualized the network benefits of framework thinking for the maximization of delivery outcomes. The proposition here is that we should create a sustainability, resilience framework.
We should physically integrate the private sector into the UN. The framework must be enabled to deal with the acceleration of negative development disruptions and the need of states to recover quickly and cost-effectively.
This framework should give partnerships the implementation capacity for dealing with:
- Managing the conceptualization process;
- Executing the initiative;
- Monitoring phases of the process;
- Managing delivery of outcomes.
This framework should widen our capability:
- To realize the Innovation Creation Dynamics in individual and across similar initiatives;
- To realize the thematic essential in viable initiatives and essential for delivery outcomes;
- And to otherwise, realize unexplored Partnerships and Investment Pipelines.
I have adopted these terms for elements of my framework from discussions with the President of the Caribbean Development Bank, Dr. Gene [Leon], in discussions about improving development resilience. However, the genesis of this framework came from the fusion of two assignments I undertook in chairing a meeting on moving beyond GDP and in discussing Financing for Development with like-minded colleagues around the UN Campus.
I think small states like The Bahamas can get ahead of the innovation challenge posed in the Foreign Policy piece with the benefit of policy tools like the Bridgetown Initiative and the Multi-dimensional Vulnerability Index (the MVI) being applied to a resilience framework as I have sketched it in the below diagram.