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The challenges of our time


Last week saw world leaders delivering reports on the progress their respective countries had made toward achieving what are called the Millennium Development Goals (MNG). But while they set about their speechmaking, we get the impression that many persons may have been hearing about the MDG’s for the first time. Indeed the MDG’s had long remained terminology dominated by and large by government or United Nation’s officials.{{more}}

But the goals are quite noble and if achieved would go a long way toward making the world as we know it a much more decent place to live for millions of persons in the oft-referred to developing world.

The United Nations had set eight broad goals which came out of its Millennium Declaration which are quite instructive and toward which all countries around the world were tasked with achieving by 2015. They are: 1) Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger; 2) Achieve universal primary education; 3) Promote gender equality and empower women; 4) Reduce child mortality; 5) Improve maternal health; 6) Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases; 7) Ensure environmental sustainability and 8) Develop a global partnership for development.

This 60th sitting on the United Nations therefore heard reports from world leaders on their progress toward attaining these goals. Our Prime Minister, addressing the UN stated that

St. Vincent and the Grenadines was “well on the way towards achieving the central MDGs”, several of which he said we had “accomplished and surpassed.”

That is to our collective credit over the years as a nation. However, Dr.Gonsalves also pointed out that “St. Vincent and the Grenadines remains extremely vulnerable due to its small size, limited resources, the insufficiency of its economic diversification, the huge dependence on exports and the awesome impact of natural disasters”.

That is a sobering thought and the Prime Minister referred to our vulnerability being “stretched by the threat to our banana industry as a consequence of the changing market regime and altered market conditions in Europe and by the massive increase in the price of oil internationally.”

In this light, he made a call on the UN and its member states to heed the plight of our poor banana farmers and workers. He specifically urged the European Union, the United States of America and the African Caribbean and Pacific group to work towards a negotiated settlement of the banana issue.

It is one of the greater challenges we face, even as we have moved toward embracing the dream of South-South cooperation via our linking with Venezuela in the PetroCaribe agreement.

We must, always, find creative ways to confront the challenges of our times.