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Electricity Access for 600 Million a goal of UN Sustainability Week

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Garfield Ekon

Staff Writer

President of the United Nations General Assembly (PGA), Mr. Dennis Francis has called for extending of access to electricity for over 600 million people, and provision of clean cooking solutions to over 2 billion people.

Making the call while addressing delegates at the close of the UN General Assembly’s first-ever Sustainability Week, recently, he said rapidly accelerating the transitions to clean, renewable energy, and dramatically scaling up finance and investment for developing countries, are very important.

“And boosting public-private partnerships, particularly for technology transfer for least developed countries,” he said, noting that the past decade has seen renewable energy surge in every corner of the globe, albeit not yet at the pace or scale required to either power the lives of all people, everywhere, nor to rein in the worst impacts of Climate Change.

“We need to accelerate the transitions to a clean and renewable energy systems, all the while recognizing different national situations, priorities, pathways, and approaches, and I urgently call on Member States and other stakeholders, encompassing the UN system, civil society, private sector, women, youth, academia, among others, to follow up on the United Nations Decade of Sustainable Energy for All,” he told the delegates.

Of importance too, the President said it is urgent to sustain and strengthen international dialogue and cooperation on energy at the UN, including through a “potential UN conference on energy.”

The four-day event also had high-level events on sustainable debt and socio-economic equality, sustainable tourism, sustainable transport, infrastructure connectivity, and the Global Stocktake marking the end of the UN’s Decade for Sustainable Energy for All.

In recognising the need for individual actions, the President launched a campaign, called #ChooseSustainability, to encourage Member States, Missions, delegates, UN Staff and the general public to commit to sustainable actions. Along with the participation of dozens of Member States and Permanent Missions to the UN, the campaign also saw over 150,000 ‘actions’ declared on the UN’s Act Now app.

“I am deeply grateful to all those who joined us and chose sustainability; but this is not a one-off and I fully intend to continue emphasizing this call to action throughout the remainder of my Presidency, and in the lead-up to the Summit of the Future, in September,” he said.

During A high-level meeting on tourism, PGA welcomed the General Assembly’s endorsement of the Statistical Framework on Measuring Sustainability in Tourism. PGA will also submit, as an outcome of the High-Level Meeting on Sustainable Transport, his contribution to the implementation plan for the UN Decade on Sustainable Transport.

 

 

 

 

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Sada Williams: Training alongside the best athletes in the world to become the pride of Barbados at Paris 2024

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Source Olympics.com

 

After participating in both the Youth Olympic Games Nanjing 2014 and the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, 400m runner from Barbados Sada Williams hopes that the help she has received through her Olympic Solidarity scholarship, and the ability to train in Jamaica, will take her to the top at Paris 2024.

Sada Williams will be cheered on by the whole of Barbados at the Olympic Games Paris 2024, but the athlete appears relaxed about shouldering the hopes of an entire nation. She has the chance to become the first woman from the eastern Caribbean island to finish on the podium at the Olympic Games, and only the second athlete, after Obadele Thompson claimed the 100m bronze medal at Sydney 2000.

“There’s no pressure, really,” says Williams. “I know Barbados will be proud of me regardless of the outcome, and I couldn’t be happier to represent them at the Games.”

Aside from earning a medal in Paris, Williams is also hoping to break the 48-second barrier and record a personal best. The 26-year-old’s upward trajectory certainly suggests she is capable of this, with her bronze medals at the 2022 and 2023 World Athletics Championships coming either side of a gold medal at the 2022 Commonwealth Games. Williams believes her recent performances have been helped by a move to Jamaica, where she trains in the same group as multiple Olympic medallist Shericka Jackson.

“I have training partners who are some of the best athletes in the world – training and competing with them is really great. It pushes me and us to be better athletes. In Barbados, I didn’t really have that type of competition or training group.”

Olympic Solidarity support

Williams’s move from Barbados to Jamaica was supported by an Olympic Solidarity scholarship, which provides financial assistance to athletes through monthly grants.

“The scholarship has provided me with the necessary funding to train and compete here in Jamaica. It’s also given me the opportunity to travel to various meets around the world, and to compete in and prepare for major competitions, such as the Commonwealth Games and Olympic Games.”

The scholarship has also shown Williams that coming from a small country with fewer resources for sport does not have to be a barrier to success.

“It shows me that there are people out there who believe in me and my potential,” she says. “They want to see me succeed at the highest level while representing my country. So, I’m truly grateful for that opportunity.”

Lessons from the Olympic Games

Paris 2024 won’t be Williams’s first appearance at the Olympic Games. Her time at Tokyo 2020 was “bittersweet”, after she failed to progress from the 400m semi-finals. But Williams also learnt a lot from her very first Olympic experience in 2014. Aged 16, she competed at the Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, reaching the 400m final.

When Williams was a teenager, there was no female athlete from Barbados whose success she could look to replicate. But now she is a source of inspiration for the next generation from her home country. She is hopeful Barbados can one day rise to the levels of neighbouring Jamaica and become an athletics powerhouse.

“I always hope that I’m inspiring young athletes from Barbados, whether I compete locally or internationally,” she says. “I always want the best for track and field in Barbados. I want other athletes in Barbados to believe that they can excel at the highest levels without needing to leave the country. It would be really nice to have the same facilities and resources as Jamaica or the United States in Barbados.”

Over 1,300 athletes supported through Olympic Solidarity

A total of 1,331 athletes from 159 National Olympic Committees (NOCs), covering 26 sports, received Olympic Solidarity scholarships for Paris 2024. Olympic Solidarity aims to ensure that talented athletes of all backgrounds have an equal chance of reaching and succeeding in the Olympic arena by providing crucial funding to help finance their Olympic dreams. With a particular focus on athletes and NOCs most in need, individual scholarship-holders receive financial support through monthly grants that contribute to their preparation and qualification for the Games, whether in their home country or at a high-level training centre abroad.

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World Sustainable Travel & Hospitality Awards reveals nominees and opens voting of inaugural programme

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World Sustainable Travel & Hospitality Awards (‘WSTHA’) has unveiled the nominees and opened voting of its inaugural programme.

The shortlist of nominees, drawn from across the globe, features a fascinating range of individuals and organisations that are accelerating change and making an impact in net positive tourism.

WSTHA received hundreds of entries, which were assessed by Sustainable Business students from Nova Business School, with the shortlist then analysed and approved by the WSTHA Advisory Board. Selection criteria included quantitative and qualitative data; internationally-recognised standards, directives and best practice; scalability and replicability; partnership and collaboration; relative impact; and bringing the story to life.

Voting runs until 2 August, with industry professionals, the media and the general public all eligible to vote for the nominees they consider to be making the most impactful contribution to sustainable travel. After the close of voting, the nominee with the most votes will be declared the winner of their respective category.

The 21 WSTHA categories have been selected by the WSTHA Advisory Board of experts to reflect the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and net positive framework of People, Planet, Place, Prosperity and Partnerships. The full list of WSTHA 2024 nominees can be viewed online.

The winners will be revealed at the inaugural WSTHA Gala Ceremony in Belize, the Official Host Destination, on 27 September.

Justin Cooke, Executive Vice-President, WSTHA says: “We have been overwhelmed by the interest in the inaugural WSTHA programme. The calibre of entrants is exceptional, many with fascinating stories of how they are accelerating change in sustainable tourism. This serves as a healthy indicator of the momentum, drive and innovation towards creating a net positive travel industry. I wish all our nominees the best of luck. And remember to cast your vote for your favourites.”

As Official Host Destination of WSTHA 2024, Belize holds responsible tourism at its core and develops projects that encourage travellers to engage with its rainforests, reefs and unique culture in a sustainable manner.

Anthony Mahler, Minister of Tourism & Diaspora Relations, Belize, says: “We are incredibly excited to host the inaugural World Sustainable Travel & Hospitality Awards here in Belize. Seeing so many trailblazing companies and individuals nominated is truly inspiring and highlights the industry’s commitment to a more sustainable future for travel. The innovation level of nominees demonstrates a shared vision, where tourism not only thrives but also helps preserve our environment and supports local communities. We look forward to welcoming all nominees and congratulating the winners in person while sharing Belize’s own sustainable tourism initiatives with a global audience.”

The WSTHA programme is run in partnership with the World Sustainable Hospitality Alliance whose donor members and members represent over 50,000 hotels, 7 million rooms globally, 270 brands and 40+ supply chain and strategic partners.

Glenn Mandziuk, CEO, World Sustainable Hospitality Alliance, says: “At the World Sustainable Hospitality Alliance, we are thrilled to witness so many deserving and inspiring entries. As we delve deeper into how these nominees are driving transformative change and making Net Positive a reality for our industry, I encourage everyone to vote and recognize these extraordinary efforts. Some of these remarkable nominees will have the honour of being named inaugural WSTHA winners. Good luck to all.”

WSTHA is the sister event of World Travel Awards, currently celebrating its 31st anniversary.

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Bahamas News

PM Davis speaks of ‘boundless possibilities’ and collaboration, at the Afreximbank 31st Annual Meetings

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NASSAU, The Bahamas – While addressing the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) 31st Annual Meetings (AAM2024), on June 13, 2024, Prime Minister and Minister of Finance the Hon. Philip Davis noted that he was reminded of the “boundless possibilities that define the Caribbean and, indeed, The Bahamas.”

“Our region is not just a collection of islands but a vibrant tapestry of culture, innovation, and opportunity,” Prime Minister Davis said, at the event held at the Baha Mar Convention Centre.  “The Bahamas, with its strategic location and dynamic economy, serves as a symbol of possibility and a gateway to broader economic horizons.”

He added:  “Growing up on Cat Island, one of our country’s beautiful family of islands, I was always filled with big dreams for my country. I may not have envisioned the specific paths our economy would take, but I always believed in the limitless potential of our nation.  Our history is one of invention, disruption, resilience, and innovation. We have pioneered in various fields, from tourism to financial services, transforming challenges into opportunities and showcasing our ability to innovate and lead.”

Prime Minister Davis pointed out that, just as The Bahamas had embraced its unique position to become a global leader in tourism and financial services, so too can they, as a collective of African and Caribbean nations, harness “our potential to shape our own economic destiny.”

“Today, our presence here underscores the readiness of The Bahamas, and indeed the Caribbean, to be a home for global leaders in various sectors,” he noted.  “The Bahamas has always been more than just a tropical paradise. It is a place of possibility, where dreams are not just dreamt but realized. This ethos is reflected in our history and in the transformative innovations we continue to champion.”

“In a similar vein, Africa is a land of immense potential, brimming with opportunities for growth and development,” Prime Minister Davis noted.  “Our collective mission is to harness this potential, creating pathways to prosperity that benefit not just our regions but the global community.”

Prime Minister Davis went further to outline “a blueprint for collaboration that we all can embrace.”

“This blueprint encompasses key initiatives designed to unite our banking systems, enhance financial inclusivity, and catalyze economic growth across Africa and the Caribbean,” he said.  “This strategic plan is anchored in our shared desire for prosperity and our commitment to overcoming the challenges of distance and disparate regulatory environments.”

Prime Minister Davis added:  “Establishing a Joint Financial Task Force can be the cornerstone of our blueprint. This collaborative body will harness the expertise of banking and finance leaders, policymakers, and stakeholders from both regions. Tasked with identifying and dismantling barriers to banking integration, this task force symbolizes our collective will to forge a unified path forward.”

Prime Minister Davis suggested that they could also harmonize their regulatory frameworks to address “critical hurdles” in their journey.

“By aligning our anti-money laundering (AML) standards, counter-financing of terrorism (CFT) policies, and digital currency regulations, we create a seamless environment conducive to cross-regional banking operations,” he stated.  “With its robust regulatory landscape, exemplified by the DARE Act, The Bahamas is a pioneer in this endeavor, guiding our efforts towards regulatory excellence and stability.”

He added:  “Additionally, promoting financial inclusion and digital banking leverages the power of technology to erase boundaries and open doors. Inspired by The Bahamas’ pioneering launch of the Sand Dollar, the world’s first central bank digital currency, this facet of the blueprint envisions a future where digital banking platforms extend financial services to every corner of our regions, ensuring that none of our citizens is left behind.”

Prime Minister Davis said that facilitating trade and investment through streamlined banking procedures and dedicated financial instruments could bolster economic exchanges between Africa and the Caribbean. By focusing on sectors of mutual interest like tourism, agriculture, renewable energy, and technology, he added, they could unlock new avenues for growth and collaboration.

“Key to this blueprint is developing human capital, underscoring the belief that our greatest asset is our people,” Prime Minister Davis said.  “Joint educational initiatives and training programs will equip banking professionals with cutting-edge skills in fintech, cybersecurity, and regulatory compliance, ensuring our financial sector is robust, secure, and innovative.”

“Creating a bilateral payment system or exploring the development of a shared digital currency represents a bold step towards financial sovereignty and integration,” he added.  “Such an initiative will facilitate smoother trade and investment, reduce our reliance on external currencies, and strengthen our economic bonds.

“Together, Africa and the Caribbean can embark on this transformative journey, driven by unity, innovation, and mutual respect. Let this blueprint be our guide as we strive to unlock the full potential of our regions, forging a path towards prosperity that will be remembered for generations yet to come.”

Prime Minister Davis noted that the Afreximbank annual meeting represented “a pivotal moment for all of us, especially for Small Island Developing States (SIDS).”

He said: “We face a global financial system that often locks us out, creating inequities perpetuated by the Global North. These powerful nations frequently establish one set of rules for themselves and another for developing states, undermining our progress and prosperity.  It is imperative that we call out this behavior and demand an inclusive, fair model for the global financial system.”

Prime Minister Davis continued:  “Our journey together – Africa and the Caribbean – supported by the visions we share and the actions we are committed to, heralds the dawn of a new era.  An era where financial inclusivity fostered by innovations like the Sand Dollar and robust regulatory frameworks become the standard across our waters.  An era where our joint task forces and harmonized policies pave the way for a future where trade, investment, and mutual growth flow as freely as the waters that connect us.”

He said that, as they all looked to the horizon, they should see not a barrier but a vast, uncharted ocean of potential.

“Let us decide, here and now, that the waters which separate our lands will not impede our progress but will act as the very medium through which we unite our dreams and ambitions,” Prime Minister Davis said.

He added:  “Friends, I ask the question again – will we allow the separation of water to get in our way? Or will we embark together on this bold journey, proving that our spirits are stronger than the oceans, our resolve deeper than the deepest sea, and our potential boundless as the sky above?  The choice is ours. Let us choose to bridge the waters, to unite our dreams, and to craft a future where Africa and the Caribbean thrive together, in prosperity and partnership. This is our moment. Let us seize it with both hands, for the sake of our present and for the countless generations to come.”

“Lastly, I hope that this annual meeting in the Bahamas is successful – and I have no doubt that it will be – and that you have time to kick off your shoes, get your feet wet in our sands, get some sand in your toes, enjoy the warmth of our people, and discover why it is better in The Bahamas,” Prime Minister Davis said.

“The moment is now.  Let us seize the moment.”

PHOTO CAPTION

Prime Minister and Minister of Finance the Hon. Philip Davis addresses the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) 31st Annual Meetings (AAM2024), on June 13, 2024, held at Baha Mar Convention Centre.

 

(BIS Photos/Eric Rose)

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