Leaders From Caribbean Small Islands Set Priorities to Ensure a Digital Transformation That Leaves No One Behind

Key commitments were announced by countries and institutions.

May 1, 2024

The two-day meeting - in the lead-up to the 4th International Conference on SIDS - served as a platform to foster dialogue and collaboration across five critical pillars for inclusive and sustainable digital success: infrastructure, government, cybersecurity and regulation, economy, and people.

UNDP Trinidad and Tobago

1 May 2024. Port of Spain, Trinidad – More than 100 participants including Ministers and Government officials from over twenty countries from Caribbean Small Island Development States (SIDS) have agreed on the way forward to become Digital States in the High-Level event: Digital Pathways for SIDS 2.0” organized by the Government of Trinidad & Tobago, Ministry of Digital Transformation, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), CAF Development Bank, and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), with the support of the European Union (EU), CARICOM, the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF), the Association of Caribbean States (ACS), and Co-Develop.  

The two-day meeting in the lead-up to the 4th International Conference on SIDS served as a platform to foster dialogue and collaboration across five critical pillars for inclusive and sustainable digital success: infrastructure, government, cybersecurity and regulation, economy, and people.  

As the conference’s host, Senator the Honourable Hassel Bacchus, Minister of Digital Transformation, noted that “creating a vibrant and healthy digital ecosystem, requires strong digital infrastructure, clear rules and regulations, secure cybersecurity measures, and the active participation of everyone involved. From improving connectivity to adopting digital government practices, and fostering digital innovation, these efforts benefit individuals, businesses, and the region. We are excited for the outcome of the conference and to collaborate and build a path for digital transformation to empower Small Island Developing States in the Caribbean to succeed in a digital world.” 

Representatives also reached a consensus on the crucial elements defining digital infrastructure readiness in SIDS, this includes ensuring robust broadband, mobile internet, and electricity access, alongside universal digital technology access, setting the stage for concerted efforts to fortify digital infrastructure, enabling sustainable development in the digital era. 

Anton Edmunds, IDB’s General Manager, Caribbean Country Office, shared the agency’s excitement about being a part of the event. “We are delighted to have collaborated in hosting this high-level digitalization conference. Our shared goal is Caribbean countries towards becoming Small Island DIGITAL States. Digital transformation is not an option; it is a critical catalyst for sustained economic and social development. As we crafted the ONE Caribbean framework, we discovered its seamless alignment with the strategic priorities of each individual nation”.  

“As CAF continues to channel increased development financing to the Caribbean, we are firmly committed to supporting the region's digital transformation agenda through access to technical assistance and grant funding, investments, knowledge exchange and capacity building opportunities. The digital transition is not only about embracing the latest technological trends but also about leveraging the potential of digitalization to foster regional integration, inclusive growth, and improved quality of life for communities across the region. “Antonio Silveira, Private Sector Vice President.  

“The SIDS 2.0 vision, and what we were able to accomplish these last days could not be achieved by individual islands alone; we must come together as a region so the Caribbean has a clear vision, with specific targets that can support policymakers and development partners to identify priorities, mobilize resources and measure progress towards the common goal of creating equitable and resilient societies that leverage technology for the greater good.” Ugo Blanco, UNDP Resident Representative for Trinidad and Tobago, Aruba, Curacao, Sint Maarten.  

Notes for the Editor on Key Commitments Mobilized: 

UNDP: UNDP, in collaboration with the Ministry of Digital Transformation of the Government of Trinidad and Tobago, is pleased to announce a Digital Support Facility for the Caribbean.  The Digital Support Facility will be housed within UNDPs Digital 4 Development Hub and will provide technical assistance for countries in the region, including support for resource mobilization through partnerships. As a follow up to this conference, the Facility is offering support to Caribbean countries to develop Digital Action Plans to implement the SIDS 2.0 vision, so Caribbean SIDS become Small Island DIGITAL States  

IDB: confirmed its commitment to Digital Transformation efforts across the region, having already mobilized approximately US$480 million in the last decade in financial support for the Caribbean in this area.  Furthermore, the recently launched ONE Caribbean framework highlights the importance of Digital Transformation as a mechanism to secure better economic outcomes and service delivery in the region. 

CAF: announced its commitment of up to 75 million in grants and investments to support digitalization initiatives of Caribbean SIDS. In addition, CAF reaffirmed that they would join forces with other development partners to scale up financing and strengthen donor coordination, for example CAF’s partnership with the European Union to mobilize an additional 3 million Euro grant to support digitalization in Trinidad and Tobago. CAF stands ready to work with all countries across the Caribbean to fast-track the national and regional digital transformation agenda.  

Co-Develop: Co-Develop committed $1 Million to four (4) Caribbean countries to enable deployments of shared digital public infrastructure within one year, in support of a more inclusive and thriving society.  

EU: The EU confirmed its commitment to continue to support the Caribbean digital through EU-LAC Digital Alliance and welcomed the SIDS 2.0 Conference as an important milestone towards further regional coordination and a harmonized approach to the digital challenges.  


Ministry of Digital Transformation, Trinidad and Tobago 

Trinidad and Tobago has placed significant emphasis on digitalization as a fundamental driver of economic development and advancement and has the potential to become a Digital Hub for the region. The country’s Digital Transformation Strategy, led by the Ministry of Digital Transformation, is not solely focused on technology, but rather on transforming the way people live, work, and connect, ultimately aiming to enhance lives. Prior to the pandemic, Trinidad and Tobago had already set forth an ambitious ICT policy to foster economic development and advance digital government. The onset of the pandemic provided fresh impetus to further develop the country’s digital ecosystem and enhance its digital government policies. 


About UNDP 

UNDP is the leading United Nations organization fighting to end the injustice of poverty, inequality, and climate change. Working with our broad network of experts and partners in 170 countries, we help nations to build integrated, lasting solutions for people and the planet. 

About CAF - Development Bank of Latin America and the Caribbean  

Is one of the key development actors on digital transformation. For CAF, digitalization is a key tool for the Caribbean region’s economic revival. To this end, CAF has developed several actions and invested around USD 3.7 billion in large-scale projects to improve digital connectivity and contribute to digital transformation for households, businesses, and governments in the Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) region. 

About IDB 

Is supporting the development of digital infrastructure, encouraged innovation in digital services, and promoted digital literacy and skills training among communities. However, to quickly engage in the digital economy, the establishment of effective cybersecurity protocols and systems were not prioritized. As a result, IDB is focusing on addressing increased vulnerabilities, adding salience for protecting cyberspace at the national, sectoral, and organization-specific levels.