July 15, 2011 at 1:00pm PM (EST)

Ambassador: His Excellency John W. Ashe

Permanent Representative of Antigua and Barbuda to the United Nations

About this Roundtable

On July 15, GFDD will present its sixth Global Roundtable, hosted at its New York office. This session will present the Permanent Representative of Antigua and Barbuda to the United Nations, His Excellency John W. Ashe, who also serves as Co-Chair on Rio+20.

Nearly twenty years ago, the world came together in Rio and recognized the urgency of changing our destructive patterns of consumption and production. Now Rio + 20 is soon approaching, it will be an important opportunity to revisit the challenges of the last twenty years and to re-direct this debate in productive ways.

The Ambassador will discuss the issues on the table at the upcoming conference, as well as the impacts that climate change is having on his own small island nation. Other topics will include Tourism and Information Communications Technology (ICTs).

About Antigua and Barbuda
The Siboney were the first to inhabit the islands of Antigua and Barbuda in 2400 B.C., but Arawak Indians populated the islands when COLUMBUS landed on his second voyage in 1493. Early settlements by the Spanish and French were succeeded by the English who formed a colony in 1667. Slavery, established to run the sugar plantations on Antigua, was abolished in 1834. The islands became an independent state within the British Commonwealth of Nations in 1981.

Antigua and Barbuda is one of the Caribbean’s most prosperous nations, thanks to its tourism industry (which accounts for nearly 60% of GDP and 40% of investment) and offshore financial services. The country’s strength lies in its tropical climate and good beaches, which have made it popular as a stop-off point for US cruise ships and have attracted large investments in infrastructure

Antigua is the main population centre and the focus for business and tourism. Relatively-undeveloped Barbuda is home to smaller, exclusive resorts and a sanctuary for frigate birds.

But a reliance on tourism makes the nation vulnerable to downturns in the world market. Internet gambling sites based in the country are an alternative source of revenue. However, Antigua and the US have been locked in a trade dispute over American restrictions on online gaming.

For decades Antigua and Barbuda’s politics was dominated by the Bird family, with Vere Bird being the country’s prime minister from independence in 1981 until 1994, when he was succeeded by his son, Lester, who spent a decade in office.

Baldwin Spencer and the opposition United Progressive Party won a landslide victory in general elections in March 2004.

The win ended the political dynasty of the Bird family, which had dominated Antiguan politics for more than half a century.

Mr. Spencer promised to fight corruption and added that “crimes committed against the people” would not go unpunished. He led the United Progressive Party to victory again at the March 2009 general election, albeit with a reduced majority.

After taking office in 2004, the Spencer government adopted an ambitious fiscal reform program, and was successful in reducing its public debt-to-GDP ratio from 120% to about 90% in 2008. The Antiguan economy experienced solid growth from 2003 to 2007, reaching over 12% in 2006 driven by a construction boom in hotels and housing associated with the Cricket World Cup, but growth dropped off in 2008 with the end of the boom. In 2009, Antigua’s economy was severely hit by the global economic crisis, suffering from the collapse of its largest financial institution and a steep decline in tourism. This decline continued in 2010 as the country struggled with a budget deficit.

Antigua and Barbuda is a member of the United Nations, the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas, the Commonwealth of Nations, the Caribbean Community, the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States, the Organization of American States, the World Trade Organization and the Eastern Caribbean’s Regional Security System.

Topic: Ambassador Ashe will discuss the upcoming Rio + 20 conference, as well as speak about the impact climate change is having on his own small island nation. Other topics include tourism and ICT’s.

Location: 780 Third Ave., 19th floor, New York , NY 10017
Time: 1:00pm (EST)
Date: Friday, July 15, 2011

Your Participation is welcome: Session closed.




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