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Amb. Webson: We are almost there!

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Preparations for Antigua and Barbuda’s hosting of the Fourth Conference of Small
Island Developing States (SIDS4) are almost complete with the final touches being
put to the conference venue, the newly constructed facility located on the campus
of the American University of Antigua.
That’s the latest update from the head of the SIDS4 Planning Committee, Antigua
and Barbuda Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Dr. Aubrey Webson
speaking at a meeting Tuesday with more than 200 volunteers for the conference at
the Sir John E. St. Luce Conference Centre.
“We are far advanced with our preparations; we are almost there. We are now
working to finalise the outfitting of the conference centre. We believe the
conference centre is going to be a major centre in the Caribbean and we are now
putting the final touches on that. I think our main work is focused on the
conference centre and making it ready,” he disclosed.
Amb. Webson said the programme for the conference is ‘all set’. “Antigua and
Barbuda should be very proud as our numbers for this conference already exceed
those for any previous SIDS conferences. I have just been informed by the UN that
the numbers are almost four thousand delegates, now that registration has been
closed,” he reported. He revealed that he was unsure whether the final totals will
have reached there but there was a surge in registration towards the end.
For the conference itself, the agenda has been set an is in place. It will open on
Monday 27 with a cultural event put on by the Ministry of Creative Industries
focusing on Antigua and Barbuda’s place within the realm of a small island
developing states.
This will be followed by an opening ceremony where the UN Secretary General
will hand over to Prime Minister Gaston Browne the presidency of the conference.
PM Browne will then chair the conference during its duration, although one of the
17 vice presidents will preside from time to time. After that, there will be national
statements by each participating country. These statements will likely last for
several days.
While this is happening, there will be several round-tables that will focus on
finance, climate issues, health and social interactions; the major themes of the

Tuesday 28, will be what has been described as ‘a fire-side chat’ with the
international financial institutions such as the World Bank, the IMF, the Caribbean
Development Bank, OECD where they will try work out a new direction for
finance. PM Browne and the UN Secretary General will both participate in this
Tuesday afternoon will be a session for the private sector; seeking ways to have
them play a more meaningful role in the development of SIDS. On Wednesday
evening will be the turn for civil society organisations where they too will share
their concerns with decision makers.
On Thursday, the last day, there will be a declaration based on the three major
themes and a final declaration, the Antigua and Barbuda Declaration for
Developing States will be issued and it will serve as the roadmap for SIDS for the
next ten years.

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