António Guterres is Secretary-General of the United Nations

UNITED NATIONS, 29 Oct–The CARICOM nations met yesterday in a virtual meeting, in a forum that had been billed in advance as an “exchange of views” with special guest UN Secretary-General António Guterres where the CARICOM nations would be discussing COVID-19 as well as protesting EU blacklisting of alleged tax havens in the Caribbean.

Normally, in diplomatic language, an “exchange of views” means a disagreement, and a “frank and open exchange of views” means an all-out shouting match.

There has been an almost complete media silence since that meeting held yesterday, with the sole report on the meeting coming from a Chinese news agency, which reported as follows:

UN Secretary-General António Guterres on Thursday urged the Caribbean Community (Caricom) to make efforts to build greener, bluer and more inclusive economies during the coVID-19 recovery.

“In a virtual intervention at the 41st regular meeting of the Conference of Heads of State and Government of the Caribbean Community, he stated that “as we invest in recovery, we must build greener, bluer, diversified, resilient and inclusive economies.”

“The simultaneous crises of COVID-19 and the climate present a once-in-a-generation opportunity for the Caribbean and its development partners to forge a new partnership for the sake of inclusive, sustainable and resilient recovery,” he said.

In this regard, he added that “we don’t have a moment to lose.”

“Climate change is an existential threat to the region,” he said. “Your leadership and moral voice at the front line is crucial to charting a recovery that accelerates the decarbonization of the world economy and builds a more inclusive and resilient future,” he added.

Guterres said the UN fully supports the Caribbean’s vision of becoming the world’s first climate-resilient region and implementing the Caribbean Resilience Recovery Fund.

“Recovering the COVID crisis, achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and ensuring climate action are not separate efforts, but a single agenda,” he said.

He explained, “the ongoing work to develop and implement Nationally Determined Contributions, socio-economic response plans, and domestic stimulus strategies must be consistent and mutually reinforcing.”

The Conference of Heads of Government, composed of the heads of government of the Member States, is the supreme body of the Caribbean Community and sets and provides political direction. In addition, it is the final authority for the conclusion of treaties on behalf of the community and for initiating relations between the community and international organizations and States.

It is also responsible for making financial arrangements to respond to community expenditure, but this role has been delegated to the Council of the Community. Decisions at the conference are usually made unanimously.

In this report there is no information about the planned “exchange of views” or of which CARICOM heads of state were taking the lead in carrying CARICOM concerns to the UN.

Nor any mention of discussion about how the EU is handling tax haven issues, or of alternative strategies to block illegal  money laundering put forward by CARICOM. This report will be updated on the release of additional information about the meeting.