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Caribbean civil society call for transformative and inclusive pathways to sustainable development ahead of the SIDS4 conference

St. John’s, Antigua, May 27, 2024 – Over 40 civil society representatives from 14 Caribbean states and overseas territories called for transformative and inclusive pathways to sustainable development at a Civil Society Summit on May 23-24, 2024, ahead of the Fourth International Conference for Small Island Development States (SIDS4) in Antigua and Barbuda. The Summit was co-hosted by the Caribbean Natural Resources Institute (CANARI) and the Environmental Awareness Group (EAG) to mobilise and prepare Caribbean civil society to effectively engage in dialogue on the new 10-year sustainable development agenda and its implementation at SIDS4. 

Civil Society Summit Participants. Credit EAG

CANARI Executive Director, Nicole Leotaud, emphasised that, “Caribbean civil society want to see a much more ambitious and progressive sustainable development agenda. They are calling for urgent attention on key issues like loss of biodiversity and ecosystems upon which our lives depend, putting human rights and justice at the centre of development, ensuring that an ocean-based economy is environmentally sustainable and benefits Caribbean people, and channelling climate finance to support locally led adaptation which addresses the needs of the most vulnerable and marginalised.”   

EAG Antigua Marine Conservation Programme Coordinator, Miquel Garcia, agreed and noted that “Civil society in SIDS act as a rallying point for persons most adversely affected by a changing world. As passionate advocates, we lead the charge to a sustainable and equitable society. While the content of the new 10-year agenda leaves much to be desired in terms of biodiversity and conservation specifically, the EAG will continue to lead the way for biodiversity conservation, restoration and stewardship in Antigua and Barbuda, in the same way civil society across the Caribbean will lead the way to a bright, prosperous and resilient future.”

The Breadfruit Collective founder and youth advocate, Christine Samwaroo, also noted “We know the realities of climate injustice in the Caribbean and the urgency of actionable steps. The agenda document falls short in addressing the intersectional issues that climate justice brings. We need to see stronger language around gender justice, inclusive of sexual reproductive health rights, and we need to have gender transformative language throughout. We also need to protect our ecosystems in the face of major planned exploration of fossil fuels and other development in the Caribbean.”

The Summit builds on the virtual regional dialogues from January to February 2024 and the position paper developed by CANARI on “The Caribbean We Want” to capture Caribbean civil society recommendations on sustainable development priorities for the next 10 years. This process identified concrete priorities of, and recommendations from, Caribbean civil society to feed into development of the new 10-year agenda. It also sought to ensure that civil society priorities are included, and that civil society is recognised as a key partner in subsequent implementation. 

 On the first day of the Summit, the civil society representatives analysed the new 10-year agenda – the Antigua and Barbuda Agenda for SIDS (ABAS) – and identified areas that were aligned to civil society priorities and could be leveraged, key needs for civil society that remain to be addressed, and areas where they  were concerned. In particular, the discussions focused on the role that civil society is already playing in delivering sustainable development, and how this could be enabled and supported. 

Summit Participants on Day 1

On the second day, the focus was the SIDS Civil Society Action Plan and Roadmap that will be launched at a SIDS4 Special Event, the Civil Society Forum, on May 29, 2024. The Action Plan and Roadmap is aligned with and complementary to the ABAS, and outlines strategic roles for civil society in the Caribbean, Pacific and Atlantic, Indian Ocean and South China Sea regions in delivering sustainable development priorities and recommends actions to strengthen enabling institutional frameworks, practices and partnerships to better support these roles. Civil society representatives at the Summit reviewed and added their inputs to the final draft Action Plan and Roadmap to ensure it was reflective of the Caribbean’s needs.

Following the Summit, the civil society representatives will be attending the SIDS4 conference from May 27-30, 2024, and are aiming to engage with national governments, regional agencies and development partners to ensure real transformation towards inclusive, resilient and sustainable development in Caribbean and other SIDS. 

This work is supported by the Open Society Foundations and Institute of International Education.
For more information on the Summit and CANARI’s events at SIDS4, see:

About CANARI: The Caribbean Natural Resources Institute (CANARI) is a regional technical non-profit institute which has been working across the Caribbean islands for more than 30 years. Our mission is to promote and facilitate stakeholder participation in the stewardship of natural resources in the Caribbean. Our work focuses on Biodiversity and Ecosystems, Equity and Justice, Participatory Governance and Resilience. For more information, see:

About EAG: The Environmental Awareness Group (EAG) is Antigua and Barbuda’s oldest environmental non-governmental organisation working for the benefit of people and wildlife. Our aim is a society informed and empowered to sustainable use and manage its natural resources. Our work focuses on species and habitat conservation, environmental education and awareness raising, and community engagement.


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