CARICOM remains resilient despite challenges of 2017- SG

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CARICOM Secretary General, Ambassador Irwin LaRocque

Despite the challenges faced by the bloc, particularly the ravaging effects of this year’s hurricane season which has cast a long shadow over the Region, the over US$2 billion pledged at the CARICOM-United Nations Conference for long-term recovery for hurricane-affected countries and the establishment of the regional renewable energy centre are among the successes the Caribbean Community (Caricom) recorded for 2017.

CARICOM Secretary General (SG) Irwin LaRocque said in his end-of-year message that the Community was ending 2017 with several other noteworthy achievements, including a change in posture by global financial institutions and some development partners with respect to access to concessionary development financing.

The SG noted that “six of our Members and several of our Caribbean neighbours experienced the wrath of unprecedented back-to-back Category 5 Hurricanes Irma and Maria…The heavy toll of lives, property and infrastructure had an effect wider than the affected countries. Our Community has bonded together, as its governments, people and institutions render yeoman support to the stricken countries. The international community has been at our side in the relief undertaking in a highly appreciated show of solidarity.”

To that end, he posited that “it is encouraging to note that our relentless advocacy with respect to the lack of access to concessional development financing appears to be bearing fruit. There is some re-thinking on this issue taking place at the level of the International Financial Institutions (IFIs) and some of our international development partners (IDPs),” the SG stated.

Adding that CARICOM will continue to advocate for this change, he said the Region’s vulnerability to external shocks, which the hurricanes laid bare, emphasised the urgent need for the international community to dispense with Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita as a primary criterion for access to concessional development financing.

Moreover, Ambassador LaRocque noted the “classification of most of our Member States as middle to high income countries denies them access to such funding. The criteria must now take into account our vulnerability as a matter of urgency.”

Addressing the climatic events that CARICOM has been enduring as the new normal, Ambassador LaRocque posited that more emphasis will be placed on building resilience to withstand the expected onslaught of more intense and frequent storms powered by the effects of climate change as the recovery and reconstruction phase is underway.

He said that “given the magnitude of the damage caused by the hurricanes, the Region cannot rebuild without the support of the international community.”

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