Minister Richards discusses SKN’s UNESCO agenda with Ambassador and Secretary General for UNESCO

It was expected to be a busy week with multiple discussions and events surrounding the St. Kitts and Nevis’ Diplomatic Week, but quality time was found by the two key representatives of UNESCO in the Federation to brief the Hon. Minister, Shawn Richards, responsible for education, sports and culture, and who also oversees the UNESCO affairs in SKN .

With an agenda ranging from St. Kitts and Nevis’ forthcoming participation in the prestigious World Heritage Committee to plans for hosting in the Federation of a major Caribbean Ministerial Water Summit, and from SKN’s targeted contribution to a reconfigured SIDS Action Plan at UNESCO to the Federation’s lobbying efforts at UNESCO to facilitate a national accreditation of higher qualifications framework, the briefings with the Hon. Minister were productive, and to the point.

The UNESCO representatives, Mr Antonio Maynard, Secretary General of the SKN National Commission for UNESCO in Basseterre, and Ambassador David P. Doyle, SKN’s Permanent Delegate to UNESCO in Paris, emphasized that the Federation was “leading the way at UNESCO”, in terms of tangible activities contributing to strengthening the country’s education planning and teaching profession, expanding its cultural heritage list and a fresh scientific thrust
to addressing water management issues.

Mr. Maynard briefed Minister Richards on a number of recent UNESCO-driven activities on the ground, mentioning:

  1. A Workshop on Training of media workers in the effective and proper use of social media-to be held on 14 to 16 May, 2019, facilitated by the UNESCO IPDC programme.
  2.  Launching of the intangible Cultural Heritage Project and related workshop facilitated by UNESCO funding of two hundred and fifty thousand dollars ($250,000.00 EC), on 29th April, 2019.
  3. Continuing discussions on behalf of the Ministry of Sports with UNESCO HQ and the UNESCO Jamaica Cluster office to kick-start UNESCO intervention to assist SKN develop a national sports policy framework, with possible assistance from the Commonwealth Secretariat and Cuba.
  4. Hosting a Pan-Africanism dialogue in the Square, in commemoration of African Liberation day on Saturday 25th May, 2019. Special guest presenter will be Mr. Mutaburata from Jamaica.
  5. Pursuit of work in the elaboration of a Man and Biosphere (MAB) Management Plan, to strengthen the efforts of the UNESCO-designated MAB reserve in St. Mary’s at Cayon, again with the technical expertise provided by UNESCO.
  6. A revised work plan and budget with the required funds to implement a programme for professionalizing the teaching corps in St. Kitts and Nevis. This arose from a UNESCO experts visit to the Federation in 2018 who submitted a recommended national framework in this area

Dr. David Doyle, Ambassador to UNESCO, based in Paris, enumerated the various upcoming important activities being negotiated with UNESCO with profile-raising and policy development opportunities for the Federation.

These included the following activities.

1. The government of St. Kitts and Nevis will be hosting a Caribbean Ministerial Water Summit in Basseterre on 15 October next, in partnership with the UNESCO Intergovernmental Hydrological Programme and the Caribbean Water and Wastewater Association. The agenda, directed at water ministers across the Caribbean, will include key thematic areas of Ministerial discussion embracing climate change and resilient infrastructure, capturing scientific date via new technologies, water quality and pollution.

2. St. Kitts and Nevis’ participation at the World Heritage Committee meeting in Baku (Azerbaïdjan) with Mr. Percival Hanley, General Manager of the Brimstone Hill, and Minister Richards representing the Federation. SKN was elected to the Committee in November 2017 for a period of four years, and will be the only small island developing state on the Committee when Cuba stands down in June 2019, providing what Ambassador Doyle called “an opportunity to leverage further heritage expertise from UNESCO and Committee members in support of St. Kitts and Nevis’ policy development in this field”.\

The prospect was also raised about Minister Richards’s possible attendance at the November UNESCO General Conference in Paris, where he will deliver a national speech before 194 UNESCO ministers.

Other matters discussed included the reconfigured selection of cultural heritage sites on Nevis for potential submission towards the world heritage listing, and the evolution towards the Federation ratifying the revised Global Convention on the recognition of higher-level education qualifications.

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