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President Ali, CARICOM SG discuss food security, regional development

DPI, Guyana – His Excellency Dr Irfaan Ali assured newly appointed CARICOM Secretary-General Dr Carla Barnett of Guyana’s continued support for regional development.

The Head of State gave this assurance during a courtesy visit by Dr Barnett at the Office of the President earlier today.

“We are very pleased to have you at this critical time for the Community and even for us here in Guyana.”

President Ali pointed out that as a member of CARICOM, Guyana will look to enhance the Regional Community.

“I have made it very clear that our prosperity will be shared with the region, and that the region will benefit from a stronger Guyana.”

FOOD SECURITY

President Ali explained that Guyana is also working diligently on a regional approach to food security. As such, he informed that the Ministry of Agriculture will support the work of the Community in pushing this agenda.

LOW CARBON DEVELOPMENT STRATEGY

The President also used the opportunity to update Dr Barnett on Guyana’s development agenda along a low carbon development pathway.

“We are pursuing an expanded agenda, and our intention is to continue on the Low Carbon Development Strategy, but an expanded strategy, especially taking into consideration the blue economy and balancing oil and gas with our focus on the environment. So that is a very important part of what we are seeking to achieve.”

REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT

With regards to regional developments, the Head of State said that Guyana is also concerned with the situation in Haiti following the devastating earthquake on Saturday.

He said that while his Government is spearheading a national relief effort, officials are also working with CARICOM for a regional approach to assistance.

The two leaders also discussed upcoming events and regional participation and representation at international events, including at the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow from October 31 to November 12, 2021.

President Ali stressed the importance of a regional approach at COP26.

“I think that we should find some way in which all of us, all the Heads, include these items in our presentation so that the noise gets louder. So we welcome you. We know that you are very capable and strong, and you have all that it takes to lead the Region in the right direction.”

The President also pointed to the visit by the President of the Republic of Suriname, His Excellency Chandrikapersad Santokhi, and explained that over the next few days, the two countries will discuss their joint approach to the energy sector.

The President also invited Dr Barnett to collaborate in finalising the design of the Secretary General’s official residence, to be constructed at Sparendaam on the East Coast of Demerara.

“I am very pleased that we had the opportunity to meet so early; it’s important, and we look forward to working with you on all the regional initiatives.”

In her remarks, the Secretary-General, who took office on Monday, thanked President Ali for his warm welcome while she acknowledged that there is a lot on the agenda, particularly with matters concerning Haiti and the events unfolding there, including the upcoming elections. She also spoke about the Region’s preparations for COP26.

GUYANA LEADING THE WAY IN SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT

Dr Barnett pointed to the strides made by Guyana in addressing its sustainable development agenda.

“An interesting thing that you mentioned just now actually came up in our discussion with the Secretariat yesterday; the need to balance in our energy development, the carbon-based, and environment because there needs to be a balance and there can be a balance in which both things can evolve. I am really very interested in learning about what your approach will be.  Guyana really has led the way in terms of its approach to sustainability of the natural environment.”

She also expressed gratitude for Guyana’s efforts in assisting Haiti while she explained that the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) and the Civil Defense Authority are organising the response in that country. She further explained that the Haitian authorities are pushing for a more coordinated relief effort. 

 “The Secretariat is geared up to do what we need to do,” the CARICOM Secretary-General assured.

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