UN challenges Cayman

Stop pandering to outside business interests – Cayman’s a hot commodity and the opportunity to leverage its attributes should not be squandered.

That was the message a delegation from the United Nations Development Programme had for Cayman’s top decision-makers this week.

‘Dialogue between Caribbean nations is crucial to build a strong front to guide development in the region,’ said UNDP representative David Smith.

He and fellow UNDP representatives Dianne McIntosh and Jose Libañio discussed their impressions of Cayman’s challenges in the context of poverty and gender issues, environment and disaster management, through the prism of meeting the UN’s Millennium Development Goals.

The goals promote poverty reduction, education, maternal health, gender equality, and aim at combating child mortality, AIDS and other diseases.

Everyone must buy into the goals.

Poor countries have pledged to govern better, and invest in their people through health care and education. Rich countries have pledged to support them, through aid, debt relief, and fairer trade.

Meeting with government and private sector officials over a four-day period, the group was on-Island to present the United Nations 2007 Human Development Report as a way to open dialogue on cooperation opportunities between Cayman and the UN.

‘The Human Development Index is a measure of the wellbeing of a given nation by giving equal value to three standards – health, economy and education,’ said Mr. Libañio.

Mr. Libañio, an expert in analyzing living conditions data who has spent decades working in countries around the globe for organizations like the world Wildlife Fund and the United Nations, said he hopes Cayman will continue to make strides in recognizing the value of this kind of assessment.

He sees the National Assessment of Living Conditions project as a good first step in Cayman’s effort to hold a mirror up to society.

‘This is an opportunity for the country to hold up a mirror to itself and really assess what is going on. More data is essential,’ he said.

‘As an alternative to just measuring a nation’s GDP, which gives an average of what people are making, the Human Development Index actually breaks down the information into useful information packages that governments and businesses turn to when developing policy, making business and investment decisions, by painting a more accurate picture of how different groups are faring in a society,’ he said.

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