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

May 3, 2024

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.” 

SIDS 2.0 is a joint initiative that, through a people centred approach, promotes enhanced efficiency, innovation, and effectiveness for the Caribbean countries and territories to connect better, empower people, and grow as a region. SIDS 2.0 aims to amplify the benefits of digitalization to people, governments, and private sector, while addressing socio-economic challenges, enhance governance, spur economic growth, and promote environmental sustainability through digital technologies. 

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 initiative, 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.

Key Commitments Mobilized: 

UNDP: UNDP, in partnership with the Ministry of Digital Transformation of the Government of Trinidad and Tobago, and in collaboration with CAF, 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.  

Get more information and resources on SIDS 2.0 here.