by Pamala Proverbs
Country Office Barbados hosted the third edition of the Annual Retreat of the Caribbean Civil Society Consultative Groups (ConSOC) at the Hilton Barbados Hotel on May 30 and 31 2013.
This time in the Office’s calendar was epic. Not only was there the phenomenal opportunity for the IDB to discuss developmental challenges etc. with civil society leaders from across the Caribbean, but these individuals were at the centre of a week that included: the Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF) signing an agreement with the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) for US$150,000 in support of the Revitalization of Bridgetown Initiative; and a special event presented by Mr. Roberto Vellutini, IDB Vice-President for Countries on ‘Public-Private Partnerships: Innovative Opportunities in the Caribbean’.
The 80 delegates from Barbados, Bahamas, Guyana, Jamaica, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, including Belize and Haiti were officially welcomed at a brief opening ceremony by the Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs of Barbados, the Hon. Christopher Sinckler; Mr. Roberto Vellutini; the General Manager of the IDB Caribbean Department, Mr. Gerard Johnson; and the Country Representative, Mr. Joel Branksi.
Minister Sinckler in his address said that his government sees the IDB as a partner development institution and expressed his desire for new, innovative and adaptable instruments to be created to assist countries to develop their economies and resume sustainable growth.
Mr. Gerard Johnson in his greeting told the ConSoc leaders that although they are not officially a part of the IDB that they are important partners of the institution, and thus their contributions were highly valued.
The packed agenda included topics such as Economic Growth and Opportunities through Public Private Partnerships and Microenterprises in the Caribbean; Progress and Challenges for Gender Equality in Latin America and the Caribbean; Development Effectiveness: Results on the ground; Water Security and Services in The Caribbean – IDB Sustainability Report; and IDB Access to Information – Why it should matter to Civil Society.
Among the other activities held for the civil society delegates were tours of the South Coast Board Walk renamed the Richard Haynes Boardwalk (BA-L1014 Coastal Risk Assessment and Management Program) facilitated by the Coastal Zone Management Unit (CZMU); and of the Pelican Village in Bridgetown, following a presentation by the Small Business Association on (BA-M1004 Development of Tourism Micro Projects in Barbados.) They also got to mix and mingle at a cocktail reception sponsored by the Government of Barbados at the picturesque Harrison’s Cave in St. Thomas and at a closing dinner and dance hosted by the IDB Barbados Office at the Fort Charles, Hilton.
Delegates were able to share experiences; debate on issues and more importantly network and build relations with their neighbours and experts from different fields. In the words of one delegate, they “… discovered that some of the issues are not unique to any particular country and that we in the Caribbean are encountering similar developmental issues”.