- At the summit of small island developing states in Mauritius, the representative of Cape Verde emphasised that her nation was still very vulnerable although being referred to as a "success story". The economic success Cape Verde has noted so far was "not solid," she said, adding that her country needed continued foreign aid.
The two representatives of Cape Verde at the Mauritius summit should have been flattered by the comments made today by Habib Ouane of the UN's trade and development agency, UNCTAD. Mr Ouane referred to "the progress achieved by Cape Verde and Maldives" as an example of small island states making significant socio-economic progress in the last 10 years.
He hoped other nations could follow the example of Cape Verde and Maldives in the near future. After all, as Mr Ouane pointed out, these two small island nations had been "eligible for graduation from the list of least developed countries."
Unfortunately, being eliminated from this official list of least developed countries (LDCs) also means that Cape Verde and Maldives are not eligible for several international development aid programmes and trade preferences. LDCs are defined by a number of economic and social indicators.
The representative of Cape Verde, Elisabeth Gomes Fernandes, answered that although her country was considered a success story, it was "necessary to realise that the indicators used to determine that were volatile, as they were based on factors such as official development assistance and migration, which fluctuated."
Ms Gomes noted the current trend towards reducing official development assistance (ODA) for her country. So, the success was "not solid and the country still faces challenges, such as low financing capacity and unemployment," she explained.
Cape Verde however was "going to take its destiny in its own hands, trying to develop a new economic policy based on its own capacities and the opportunities provided by globalisation," Ms Gomes explained at the Mauritius summit.
Cape Verde had "a vision and a strategy," she said, and what it needed was resources. Its efforts must be supported by the international community. The country's development partners needed to see how they could assist Cape Verde, so that her country could better meet its "enormous challenges," Ms Gomes emphasised.
For Cape Verde to have been taken off the list of LDCs, the indicators used to compile the list must be insufficient, the country's representative implicated. "The criteria for graduation should be examined," as it did "not take into account the real situation in countries and the level of vulnerability to which they were exposed," Ms Gomes held.
Mr Ouane of UNCTAD went far in agreeing with the Cape Verdean representative. He said that his UN agency for over a decade had supported the idea of including economic vulnerability as criteria for receiving development aid. In particular, said Mr Ouane, one needed to analyse "the particular problems of small island developing states, be they least developed countries or not."
Also the representative of the European Union (EU), commenting on the speech by Ms Gomes, said that the EU "saw the need to make exceptions." However, exceptions were not always necessary; "rules could be designed with built-in flexibility." It was important not to "lose sight of the final goal - full integration into the global system," the EU representative noted.
Maria Madalena Neves, Cape Verde's Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Fisheries, already at yesterday's opening of the Mauritius meeting had noted that Cape Verde was "confronted with a question of vulnerability that affects all island nations." The Minister however said that her country was responding to these problems.
The government was "developing an integral programme of sustainable development" that was to mark "a profound transformation of the country," the Minister announced. She in particular emphasised Cape Verde's ten-year environmental action plan. "We will also strengthen the national capacity, in particular strengthening the technical capacity to permanently manage the environment," Ms Neves said.
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