SG: CARICOM’s unity drives it to surmount ongoing challenges
Greater Georgetown, Guyana – The unified strength of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) has enabled it to surmount challenges posed over 44 years of regional integration, the CARICOM Secretary-General said Monday, urging the Community Council of Ministers to use those weapons to forge ahead.
CARICOM’s second highest organ held its 41st meeting at the Georgetown, Guyana, headquarters Jan. 15 to discuss the provisional list of items for the agenda of the 29th Inter-sessional Meeting of Heads of Government in Haiti,Feb. 26-27. The meeting was chaired by His Excellency Antonio Rodrigue, minister of Foreign Affairs and Religious Affairs of Haiti.
“Let us, once again, engage those weapons as we strive to ensure that in our 45th year, integration continues to be the vehicle to provide sustained development and a secure, prosperous and viable Caribbean Community for all our people,” Secretary-General LaRocque stated.
He said the pressing issue of crime and violence, given the gravity of the situation faced by many member states, as well as disaster management and preparedness, are among the items proposed for the heads meeting agenda.
He reminded the council that its discussions were being undertaken against the background of recovery efforts within the countries that suffered the terrible devastation of hurricanes Irma and Maria. Unified strength, he said, was evident in the relief effort galvanised by the governments and people of the region in response to those disasters.
“Our member states rallied around the stricken countries and rendered yeoman service in the aftermath of the disasters,” he said. “Our institutions, well led by the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) in close collaboration with the Secretariat, also delivered, in support of the recovery efforts. The international community also made a sterling contribution.
“As Prime Minister Minnis of The Bahamas said: ‘Sadly, the economic, environmental, social and psychological damage will remain for quite some time.’ The reality is that these storms will be more frequent and intense as extreme climatic events become the new normal for us as we are living with climate change,” Secretary-General LaRocque said.
The community’s main focuses therefore, he added, are rebuilding and critically “on preparing for the others that are sure to come.”
As a matter of urgency and as advocated in the Community Strategic Plan, efforts must be engineered, Ambassador LaRocque said, to “build a resilient community in all facets, economically, socially, environmentally and technologically.”
As the community forges ahead with reconstruction, he urged that regional and national programmes be implemented to transform it into the world’s first climate-resilient region.