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Barbados pioneers small island developing States governance assessments
Corruption, ethnic and cultural conflict, natural disasters' impact, crime and violence linked to the drug trade, or money laundering are some of the issues faced by small island States in the Eastern Caribbean on a daily basis. These are both threats to good governance and signs that existing governance systems need improvement.
Corruption, conflict rooted in ethnic and cultural differences, civil society disengagement, health issues related to HIV/AIDS and chronic diseases, security and energy issues, the impacts of natural disasters, economic distress, crime and violence linked to global threats such as the drug trade, or money laundering are some of the issues that small island States in the Eastern Caribbean face on a daily basis. These are both threats to good governance and signs that existing governance systems should be improved. Over the last decade, the consensus has been growing in the English-speaking Caribbean that the constitutional models of governance and democracy based on the Westminster parliamentary system were in need of overhaul and modernizing. Within such a reforming process, country-led governance assessments may come in handy to identify where to start and where to go, and to foster the participatory governance that has been missing from the Caribbean version of the Westminster model.
With support from the Oslo Governance Centre (OGC), the Barbados-based sub-regional UNDP Office and the University of the West Indies (UWI) recently launched a pioneering project to assess and measure governance in Caribbean Small Island Developing States (SIDS), for Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean (download launch report). The project aims to modernize and strengthen evidence-based policy development in the target islands with the use and adaptation of global methodologies. It bases its strategy on the country-led governance assessment approach developed by the OGC, and thus follows the principles of national ownership and multi-stakeholder participation. The University of the West Indies concentrates the critical research capacity needed for the assessment, which will build on and further develop its technical strengths. Most importantly, the UWI will serve as an open centre for a wide range of actors to get involved in the process, a repository of the information generated from the assessment to ensure its permanence and traceability, and a starting point for advocacy on evidence-based policy-making. Details on the planned assessment can be found through our Barbados country initiative page, which provides links to the project document, the project launch report and contact persons.
This initiative has the potential to become a useful pilot on governance assessments for the whole Caribbean region, but also other developing island States in other parts of the world. We are dealing here with small islands that think big.