Stuart says CARICOM summit is not talk shop
Prime Minister Freundel Stuart has given the assurance that the 36th CARICOM Heads of Government summit taking place here is not just another talk shop.
He told a high-level strategic dialogue at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre this morning that there was no doubt that officials would engage in discussions on the region’s priorities and strategies to ensure that “our voice is heard and our concerns are reflected in the final outcomes of these meetings”.
The event focussed on partnership between then United Nations (UN) and CARICOM on the post-2015 developmetnt agenda and climate change and came ahead of the opening of heads of government conference.
The theme for this morning’s deliberations was CARICOM: Vibrant Societies, Resilient Economies –– A Partnership for Implementation.
Stuart promised that a number of areas would be addressed to support the sustainable development framework and agenda of small island developing states.
“These are, say the critics, mere talking shops, unconnected to the needs of our societies, more focused on rhetoric than reality,” said Stuart.
Outlining a number of successes over the years, Stuart said as he prepared to assume the CARICOM chairmanship, he was reminded of the words of former Prime Minister Lloyd Erskine Sandiford that “when all is said and done, our best hope for achieving sustainable development is through the creation of partnerships”.
He said the partnerships should not only be among governments and private sector but also partnerships at the regional, inter-regional and international levels.
“We look beyond the outcome documents to implementation, bearing in mind our unique status as small island developing states,” said Stuart.
“We focus closely on the means of implementation, issues such as access to financing, partnerships, building capacity, as well as legal administrative, statistical and other policy frameworks to support the effective implementation and monitoring of the sustainable development goals which will be agreed on,” he added.
Meanwhile UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon urged the gathering, which included a number of regional leaders, top business officials and government ministers, to remain fully engaged and form closer ties in their quest to achieve the region’s development goals.
“As we prepare for the post-2015 development agenda and the sustainable development goals, there are a number of critical areas to strengthen our partnership. You have highlighted the need for capacity building, financing, access to technology, and improving data collection and statistics,” said Ban.
“We have heard your calls and are committed to strengthening our implementation and partnership frameworks. We need to continue working together to link the global agenda to regional agendas and to deepen regional integration. We need to work hard to ensure that the social fabric is strong because vibrant societies are the foundation of resilient economies,” he said.
He added that the region needed to speak up and act in meaningful ways to address the unique needs and vulnerabilities such as the debt challenge.
“We need to put more attention on the need to expand opportunities for women and young people who want the dignity that comes from decent work. And we need to keep forging the way forward towards a low-carbon, climate-resilient development pathway that will benefit both people and the planet,” he said, adding that poverty reduction was also vital in the process.
This year, said UN secretary general, was the time for “global action”.