Premier's Office
Release Date:
Wednesday, 15 December 2021 - 3:15pm






My dear friend, Mr. Didier Trebucq, UN Resident Coordinator for Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean;

Regional heads of UN agencies present;

UN officers and personnel;

Senior Public Servants;

Ladies and gentlemen;

A pleasant good morning.

It is a pleasure to be here on this very important occasion. Indeed, it is a great day for the British Virgin Islands, Eastern Caribbean and the wider Caribbean region in which we live and work.

Didier, I want to begin by congratulating you and your United Nations (UN) colleagues across the region on the finalization of the UN Multi-Country Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework (MSDCF) for the Caribbean for the 2022-2026 period. The MSDCF has been developed with the full input of the stakeholder countries and territories who are the primary beneficiaries. Your strong leadership and the work of your team was critical to its completion; and I commend you for ensuring that the voice and the needs of the Eastern Caribbean are captured in the document.

As we all know, the Caribbean is at a critical stage where the global pandemic has increased our vulnerability as a grouping of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and low-lying coastal countries. The now fast-spreading Omicron variant also reminds us that we are not out the woods yet. Many countries and territories continue to experience the negative economic, social and health impacts of the virus. Controlling COVID and achieving a balanced recovery will take longer than anyone imagined.

Without a doubt, we need the support of the UN now more than ever. Your assistance is critical if we are to still achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030. Despite the scale of the challenge, I remain confident and optimistic that the SDGs are still within reach, but it will require tireless effort, multisectoral partnerships and creative approaches to resource mobilisation.

Within the framework of the MSDCF, the British Virgin Islands will be seeking UN support as we implement our National Sustainable Development Plan (NSDP), which is now in advanced draft form after months of public consultation and technical assistance from ECLAC.

I would like to take this opportunity to express my sincere appreciation to you Didier for living up to the UN mantra of ‘leaving no one behind’. You have made every effort to ensure that the British Virgin Islands is included in UN assistance to the Eastern Caribbean to support COVID response. I am also grateful for our inclusion in the various Joint Programmes for which we have been selected to accelerate SDGs implementation. As we all know, it is not easy for the British Virgin Islands to qualify for development assistance, so we are grateful.

It is also important for me to mention here the incredible support my Administration has received from UNDP, along with other agencies. Thank you Valerie Cliff for UNDP’s responsiveness, especially in the context of our special Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). The UN is a highly valued and trusted partner with whom we enjoy working immensely. You are in fact our premier partner for sustainable development and development cooperation.

Looking ahead to 2022, my Administration looks forward to continuing to work closely with UN colleagues on UN assistance to the British Virgin Islands within the framework of our Country Implementation Plan. This will support our transition from recovery to sustainable development. I also look forward to the opening of the satellite Resident Coordinator Office here on our shores in the first half of 2022 which will help to facilitate our cooperation. I am also very pleased the UNDP Project Office on Tortola will become operational in February.

Finally, Didier, I do hope you and UN colleagues will pay us a visit here in the British Virgin Islands next year. I would very much welcome if by the end of the second quarter we can have a BVI-UN Forum on Sustainable Development with full in-person participation by UN colleagues. There is much for us to discuss as we cooperate on achieving the SDGs, responding to climate change, developing the blue economy and recovering from the pandemic.

As I close, I of course want to thank my team at the Premier’s Office for all their hard work. Special thanks to go to my Permanent Secretary Dr. Carolyn O’Neal-Morton and my Special Envoy Mr. Benito Wheatley who have ensured the British Virgin Islands continues robust engagement with the UN system.

I thank you and it is my pleasure to join you my friend Didier to sign the MSDCF.