United Nations (UN) Resident Coordinator in Guyana, Ms Mikiko Tanaka on Friday, last, underscored the critical importance of regional cooperation amidst fundamental shifts spawned by changes in policies of the US and Britain (vis-a-vis the EU) that may impact the Caribbean states.
She expressed this conviction at the onset of discussions between the CARICOM Secretariat and the UN System in the Caribbean on mechanisms for the effective implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in the region. The meeting between CARICOM Secretariat and the Regional Steering Committee of the UN Multi-country Sustainable Development Framework (UN MSDF) in the Caribbean was convened on Friday 2 June at the Headquarters of the CARICOM Secretariat.
As the CARICOM Secretariat and the UN were leveraging multilateralism to advance the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, both the CARICOM Secretary-General, Ambassador Irwin LaRocque and Ms Tanaka expressed disappointment with the Trump Administration’s announcement the previous day of withdrawal from the Paris Climate Change Agreement.
Stating that an appropriate response was needed, Ambassador LaRocque said the parties to the Agreement “have to keep on going,” adding that Small Island Developing States (SIDS) like those of CARICOM were “most challenged by Climate Change.”
Echoing that sentiment, Ms Tanaka said the people of the Caribbean and SIDS countries were among the first to suffer from rising sea levels and extreme weather occurrences and that the fight against climate change had to continue.
In addition, she posited that historical dependency of trade, migration and remittances of Caribbean states and their people in the US, UK and Europe may also be at a turning point, and proposed there is a need for “paradigm shifts” in the way economies, governance and societies operate in the Caribbean.
Underscoring the role of CARICOM in this era, she said it had been at the center of forging cooperation, contributing to important regional and global initiatives, and responding to complex challenges of recent years.
“At a time of unprecedented risks and challenges for the world and region, multilateral cooperation at global and regional levels becomes more important than ever,” she stated.
Acknowledging that development assistance also required a paradigm shift, Ms Tanaka stated that 20 UN agencies had signed the Multi-country Sustainable Development Framework (MSDF) with 18 countries and territories in the Caribbean, committing the UN system to work with countries to make needed transformations to achieve the SDGs. This is the first regional UN development assistance framework that will enable stronger cooperation with CARICOM institutions to tackle common challenges.
Chair of the UN MSDF Regional Steering Committee, Mr. Bruno Pouezat added that the MSDF will not duplicate efforts rather, it will improve how the UN System works with CARICOM to provide development assistance at national and regional levels.
The Forum’s discussion builds upon the areas for strategic intervention which were agreed at the Eighth Biennial Meeting of CARICOM and the UN System in July 2015 in Georgetown, Guyana. They included capacity building for the Secretariat and CARICOM Institutions, and support for an effective institutional platform to enable the Region to implement the SDGs, the goals of the Samoa Pathway, and the 2030 Development Agenda. Against this backdrop, the UN was interested in sustaining productive partnerships in addressing the new challenges facing the Caribbean.
The discussion, which was described by CARICOM Secretary-General as a commendable approach in advancing the 2030 Agenda, involved UN Resident Coordinators from Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Suriname, Barbados and the OECS, Belize, and Guyana; and UN Agency Representatives from the FAO, PAHO/WHO, UNAIDS, UNDP, UN Environment, UNESCO, UNFPA, UNHCR, UNICEF, and UN Women.
Ambassador LaRocque told the representatives that the Community had found synergies between the Community Strategic Plan 2015-2019 and the 2030 Agenda. He pointed out, however, that the Community was challenged with capacity to implement the goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. As such, collaboration, coordination and assistance were critical.