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CARICOM, United Kingdom commit to closer cooperation

The Secretary-General of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), Dr. Carla Barnett, has called for stronger commitments by the international community to reverse the impacts of global warming, which threatens the very survival of Small Island Developing States (SIDS).

She also called for SIDS to have access to concessional development financing, based on their special circumstances, which include their vulnerability to catastrophic climate-related disasters.

Dr. Barnett highlighted these issues on Tuesday, March 28, during a bilateral meeting with the United Kingdom’s Parliamentary Under Secretary for the Americas and the Caribbean, Hon. David Rutley.

CARICOM Secretary-General Dr. Carla Barnett, (second, left) and United Kingdom Parliamentary Under Secretary for the Americas and the Caribbean, Hon. David Rutley (r) during the bilateral meeting

In the discussion on a range of topics that included the need for reform in the international financial architecture, and support for Haiti, CARICOM and the UK representatives pledged closer cooperation.

Dr. Barnett said CARICOM looks forward to the 11th Caribbean-UK Forum, which takes place in May in Jamaica for further discussions.

On Tuesday, Dr. Barnett called on the United Kingdom to use its influence in the international community to advocate for CARICOM which is perhaps the most vulnerable region to climate change, with impact felt on agriculture, fisheries, the erosion of coastlines and the influx of sargassum seaweed.

Dr. Barnett referenced the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Report, which warned that there is no time to lose to keep to the target of limiting the global average temperature to below 1.5°C. The IPCC latest report was released earlier in March and reiterated that there is a rapidly closing window of opportunity to secure a liveable and sustainable future for all. Actions to limit global average temperature to below 1.5°C must accelerate within the next seven years, the IPCC report warns.

Dr. Barnett told Mr. Rutley that CARICOM looks forward to closer cooperation with the UK on the road to the Twenty Eighth Meeting of the Conference of Parties (COP 28) to the United Nations Convention of Climate Change, later this year in the United Arab Emirates. She added that SIDS are anticipating real outcomes to reverse the current trajectory of global warming which threatens their very survival.

On the issue of development financing, Dr. Barnett urged the UK to support CARICOM’s advocacy for international financial institutions (IFIs) to revisit their graduation policy, which locks out small and middle-income countries from access to concessional financing based on the “flawed criteria of GDP per capita.”

For a long time, SIDS have been leading the advocacy in the United Nations (UN) system for a form of measurement that recognises their ecological and economic vulnerabilities, and one that moves beyond the use of Gross National Income.

Against that backdrop, the CARICOM Secretary-General told Mr. Rutley that there is an urgent need for the international community to support the Multidimensional Vulnerability Index (MVI) being championed in the UN. With the buy-in of the international community, the MVI is anticipated to help small island developing states access concessional financing to adapt to climate change, service debts, and secure insurance and compensation schemes for climate related disasters. 

For his part, the UK’s Parliamentary Under Secretary expressed appreciation for Dr. Barnett’s strong advocacy on the burning issues CARICOM and SIDS face. He pledged his country’s support in its spheres of influence.

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