Achieving a Resilient Future for Small States

Achieving a Resilient Future for Small States

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Commonwealth Secretariat
01 Apr 2016
9781848599406 (PDF)

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The Caribbean faces numerous economic, social and environmental challenges, with current projections predicting the road ahead to be filled with low levels of growth, high debt and low resilience.

In Achieving a Resilient Future for Small States: Caribbean 2050, the contributors set out a long-term, research-based strategy for avoiding these projections, recommending a number of policy interventions aimed at building the region’s resilience and development prospects.

Written by influential analysts and researchers and drawing on a wide cross-section of regional stakeholders and thought leaders, the study contains an assessment of the main challenges and opportunities for the region, scenario modelling of where the region could be by 2050, and a broad vision for the region with sector specific goals of how to get there.

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Expand / Collapse Hide / Show all Abstracts Table of Contents

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  • Foreword – Deodat Maharaj

    The ‘Achieving a Resilient Future for Small States: Caribbean 2050’ project, aimed at tackling the problems facing the Caribbean, posed some tough questions to policymakers and development partners in the region. Do current development strategies set the region on a path to achieve sustainable development? What happens if the region continues on its current policy path? And is the region positioned to capitalise on the use of its limited resources and emerging opportunities?

  • Acknowledgments
  • Abbreviations and acronyms
  • Contributors
  • A Call to Action: the Caribbean We Want

    The Caribbean region faces numerous economic, social and environmental challenges. The economies have been caught in a low-growth trajectory and falling total factor productivity (TFP), accompanied by high-debt ratios. Since 2000, while real per capita growth rates in developing countries averaged around 4 per cent per annum, the comparable figure for the Caribbean Common Market and Community (CARICOM) was just around 2 per cent. While the small size of the private sector, the lumpiness of government investment and unfavourable external circumstances have contributed significantly to the poor performance of regional economies, weather-related shocks have also served to derail their development efforts. With the expected intensification of adverse weather events resulting from climate change, and Caribbean countries’ limited resources and capacity to respond, the road ahead for the region is expected to be even more challenging.

  • The Caribbean Development Context: Past, Present and Future

    The islands of the Caribbean have made significant progress in economic and social development in the relatively short time that they have been independent countries. At the time of writing only two of the countries included in this study had been independent for more than 50 years – Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago – and one had been independent for only 35 years (Saint Lucia). Nevertheless, from the 1960s onwards they have made good progress in social and economic development. The 2014 Human Development Report (UNDP 2014) considers all except Guyana to have ‘high human development’. These human development indices were well above the average for other countries of ‘high human development’ for every year that the report was produced until 2008, when Jamaica and Saint Lucia started to slip behind. The year 2008 appears to be a turning point in the development progress of the region. While the average index score for countries of ‘very high human development’ and ‘high human development’ continued to increase, the countries of the Caribbean plateaued or started to dip (except Guyana, which remained on an upward trajectory).

  • The Caribbean 2050: Cone of Possibilities

    Long-term strategies appear to have slipped in priority in the face of short-term crises. While, in the past, Caribbean countries have been able to regroup after a setback and refocus on their long-term strategic goals, thus not affecting the generally positive trajectory, in recent years, with the protracted economic downturn, progress towards development goals appears to have plateaued.

  • The Road to 2050: the Caribbean We Want

    The pathways presented in chapter 3 provide the Caribbean with a range of possible futures: a ‘business-as-usual’, a best-case and a worst-case scenario. The most compelling and appealing of the three clearly points to the implementation of strategies that will lead to the best-case scenario. Consistent with such a strategy is a vision for the Caribbean as peaceful, prosperous and inclusive; where its people are creative, enterprising and resilient, fully engaged in, and benefiting from, development within the framework of effective institutions that guarantee human rights and social justice.

  • Energy: the Key to a Cleaner, More Prosperous Caribbean

    Commonwealth Caribbean states face several environmental challenges that prevent them achieving sustainable development. The occurrence of natural disasters and the effects of climate change on tourism and agriculture are negatively affecting Caribbean countries, as these industries provide a high percentage of GDP. Additionally, natural disasters can disrupt development prospects, as funds are diverted to deal with the immediate aftermath of a disaster. The role of energy is important in so far as increased access to energy can facilitate economic growth and is integral to human development. Given the aforementioned effects of climate change on the economy, there has been a renewed emphasis on reducing small states’ reliance on fossil fuel imports. This in turn has led to the examination of renewable energy possibilities and the issue of energy security.

  • Private Sector Development and Innovation: Towards a More Prosperous Caribbean

    Envisioning a creative and enterprising private sector for sustainable innovation, inclusiveness and competitiveness seems challenging and almost enigmatic for the Caribbean, particularly in the light of weakening institutional conditions, persistent ecological vulnerabilities, enduring inequalities and stagnating economic development for well over a decade. The Caribbean’s vulnerability, however, originates not from episodic external events, but – more importantly and persistently – from idiosyncratic internal inertias. Challenging and changing this status quo in small states will require nothing less than a paradigmatic shift and systemic transformation to build resilience based on the needs of a sustainable future rather than accepting or reacting to a multiplex of challenging institutional and market conditions by means of traditional interventions. In essence, the Caribbean will need to innovate its way out – led by the private sector in partnership with public institutions and regional agencies.

  • The Role of Youth in Accelerating Caribbean Development

    As the world embarks on a new set of Sustainable Development Goals endorsed by the international community in September 2015, it is important to recognise the role of young people as key stakeholders in achieving any development goals. As they will inherit the societies and world in which they live, young people have a vested interest in creating a future that is prosperous and peaceful. Development that does not fulfil the needs of young people and equip them with the capacity to effectively transition to the next phase of life is unlikely to be sustainable. Consequently, to be truly effective in achieving the Caribbean we want, we must consider the current and future challenges of the region’s youth. In the Caribbean, 60 per cent of the population are under 30 (Forbes 2015). This significant segment of the population is a critical force for change and development, yet young people still face major challenges. They are often burdened by unemployment and underemployment. The Caribbean Development Bank (2015) reports that the youth unemployment rate for countries in the region with available data is on average 25 per cent, while the adult rate ranges between 6 per cent and 15 per cent. Moreover, a regional youth unemployment rate of 25 per cent is nearly double the global average for youth unemployment, which is 14 per cent (World Development Indicators 2015).

  • Citizen Security: Achieving a Safe and Secure Caribbean
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  • Expand / Collapse Hide / Show all Abstracts Appendices

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    • Youth development index composition
    • Project approach

      To gain insight into potential areas of focus within the remit of the project, an Advisory Group – comprising regional ‘thought leaders’, including senior policymakers within the Caribbean, and chaired by the Commonwealth Secretariat Deputy Secretary-General – was convened. Given the multifaceted nature of development, the Commonwealth adopted a multidisciplinary approach in the selection of experts for the group, covering economic, social and environmental disciplines. The members of the group were the Hon. Winston Dookeran (Minister of Foreign Affairs in Trinidad and Tobago); Rod Pennycook (Chair of the Board of the Royal Bank of Canada); Dr David Smith (Coordinator of the University Consortium of Small Island States); Dr Wendy Grenade (lecturer at the UWI); Farmala Jacobs (Caribbean Youth Network representative); the Deputy Secretary-General of Economic and Social Development, Deodat Maharaj; and Dr Denny Lewis-Bynoe, Acting Head of Climate Finance and Small States in the Economic Policy Division of the Commonwealth. They met in Trinidad and Tobago and deliberated on the concept and approach for building the resilience of Caribbean economies and developing a vision for the Caribbean that embodies the aspirations of its people. In their choice of topics for consideration, the Advisory Group drew on their considerable knowledge of the region, identified those issues that are likely to be most transformative for the development of the region, and decided those that were to be the project’s areas of focus.

    • Matrix of National Development Plan strategic elements for selected Caribbean countries
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