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CARICOM moving to create the World’s first Climate Resilient Region in the year ahead – Incoming Chairman


2018 dawns for the Caribbean Community, with the prospect of seizing an opportunity out of a crisis.  As we begin the rebuilding process after the devastating hurricanes of last September, as well Hurricane Matthew, which pounded the region on October 3-4 , 2016, we do so with the aim of creating the first climate resilient Region in the world.

The absolute necessity to create a climate smart Region is clear given the effects of climate change which have brought us droughts, mega hurricanes, heavy floods and unusual weather patterns, all of which adversely affect our development.  The social and economic gains that we have made individually and collectively must be protected against the onslaught of nature. The CARICOM Member States’, as well as the region’s non-member States’ production of greenhouse gases, is practically nil, even though they bear a disproportionate share of the consequences.

The goodwill and pledges which have been forthcoming from the international community at two major global conferences in New York and Paris give us hope that the necessary support to achieve our objective will be forthcoming.

Our efforts are against the backdrop of the Caribbean Community Strategic Plan for the period 2015-19, which is our guide towards the economic, social, environmental and technological resilience that is needed to produce sustained growth and development for our Community.

This year, we will increase our efforts to make the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) more effective at providing the basis for our economic growth.  Many of the major legislative and administrative measures for the operations of the Single Market are in effect. Therefore it is now up to all of the stakeholders in the public and private sectors to ensure we derive the maximum benefit from its provisions. This would enable us to increase our intra-regional trade, share our best human resources, and encourage our entrepreneurs to expand their interests and provide us with a platform to move from market access to market presence in those countries with which we have trade agreements. The CSME undoubtedly remains our best vehicle for creating the economic resilience we need.

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The reform process underway in our Community will allow us to conduct our affairs more efficiently and effectively and will also benefit the operations of the CSME. Our Member States, Regional Institutions and the Secretariat have been streamlining their interactions to produce the best possible results from the decisions taken by the Heads of Government and the Ministerial Councils.  We are entering the final two years of the Strategic Plan and the results of the three partners’ efforts at implementing it are beginning to bear fruit.

The solidity and efficiency of that partnership will be tested as never before given the magnitude of the rebuilding task ahead of us. We have to rebuild with resilience now to forestall damage in the future, in other words, to build back better. I am confident that the creativity and determination of our people will allow us to achieve that goal.

As I assume the chairmanship of the Conference of Heads of Government, I must thank my predecessor, the Prime Minister of Grenada, Dr. the Rt. Honourable Keith Mitchell, for his outstanding performance in leading the Community during one of the most difficult periods in our history.  I look forward to building on his achievements. With assistance from all, we shall maintain our Community on a path to sustainable development and a safe, secure, viable and prosperous society. Among issues I intend to advance during my tenure will be those related to natural disasters and climate change

Haiti looks forward to welcoming the Community to its shores in February, as we gather for the 29th Intersessional Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government. The warmth and hospitality of the Haitian people await you.

May I take this opportunity to wish all our CARICOM citizens a very Happy and productive New Year, as we work together to continue building a resilient Community that advances the interests of all its citizens.

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