For the eighth year in a row, the Virtual Institute provided Master’s students from core member, the University of the West Indies (UWI), with the opportunity to learn from international experts during a two-week Vi study tour held in Geneva May 14-25.
Representing seven Caribbean countries*, the 14 students, accompanied by Vi member coordinator, Neil Paul, participated in a training programme designed to complement the Master’s programme in International Trade Policy offered by UWI’s Shridath Ramphal Centre in Barbados.
The study tour kicked off with an overview of ideas fundamental to trade and development thinking, presented by Manuela Tortora, Chief of UNCTAD’s Technical Cooperation Service.. Other experts from UNCTAD joined during the first week, presenting topics of great interest to the UWI group: development diplomacy for small island developing states (SIDS); the debt crisis; regional integration; food security; linkages between transnational corporations and SMEs; technology and innovation; climate change; the creative economy; and transport and trade facilitation (the latter consisting of an interactive “ship-construction” game).
During the second week students were busy with visits to other Geneva-based organizations: the World Trade Organization, the World Meteorological Organization, the International Trade Centre, the International Organization for Migration, the World Intellectual Property Organization, the South Centre, the International Labour Organization, and the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development.
“I liked that the various organizations took the time out of their busy schedule to give substantive and stimulating presentations, which were not just lectures but discussions,” a participant stated enthusiastically. “The areas of discussion were relevant to trade policy and provided a more holistic and thought-provoking mindset on the current debate on trade.”
The students also had the chance to exchange views with delegates from their countries’ permanent missions and regional organizations: Ambassadors Vernese-Williams (Barbados), Barberousse (Haiti), McCook (Jamaica), Suescum (Panama), Baptiste-Cornelis (Trinidad & Tobago), as well as representatives from the office of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) and the Caribbean Forum (CARIFORUM), took part in a roundtable discussion on the challenges and experiences of the Caribbean SIDS in Geneva.
“I feel extremely privileged of getting to know experts in the fields of trade and meeting my country Ambassador,” said one student.
“This was a very good programme and the level of engagement was instructive and thoughtprovoking”, commented another.
* Barbados, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Panama, St. Lucia and Trinidad & Tobago.