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NATIONAL WELCOMING CEREMONY

The Government of Barbados welcomed Conference participants to its country with a colorful National Welcoming Ceremony at the Sir Garfield Sobers Complex Monday morning, amidst pomp and circumstance, music, dancing, and TV cameras that broadcast the event live throughout the region. In his opening address, the Prime Minister of Barbados, the Rt. Hon. Erskine Sandiford, welcomed all delegates and NGOs to Barbados and invited everyone to mix business and pleasure within the limits of national laws. He described the many vulnerabilities of small island developing States (SIDS). He added that Barbados is also doing what it can to implement sustainable development policies.

The next speaker was UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali. He said that this Conference marks the first time that a UN global conference is held in a small island developing State. The UN strives to make development a national reality.

Samuel R. Insanally, the President of the 48th UN General Assembly and Permanent Representative of Guyana to the United Nations, said that this Conference marks the first test of the commitments made by the international community at the Earth Summit in Rio two years ago. SIDS should use their great human potential to confront the environmental challenges before them.

Amb. Annette des Iles, the Chair of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) and Permanent Representative of Trinidad and Tobago to the UN, assured everyone that AOSIS will do everything it can to ensure the Conference is a success. She invited all developed countries to join AOSIS in implementing the commitments they made in Agenda 21.

Following the speeches, there were a series of dance, cultural and musical presentations from the Royal Rarotongans from the Cook Islands and a number of Caribbean dance companies, including the Barbados Dance Theatre Company, the Plantation Dancers, Dancing Africa, St. Lucian Cultural Group and a spectacular limbo performance by the Pinelands Creative Workshop. There was also a performance by the Barbados Combined Choirs and the Royal Barbados Police Force Band. Perhaps the most creative performance was given by the students of Barbados Secondary Schools, who danced themselves into a human reproduction of the logo of the Conference. At the conclusion of the dance, a 14-year old Barbadian girl gave an impassioned plea to everyone to work hard, using their hands and their heads, to achieve sustainable development.

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