PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, CMC – The United Nations says the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) region is at an “important turning point” in its history.
In a message to Caribbean Community (CARICOM) leaders, who ended their 34th summit here on Saturday, United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, said this is “a time of hope when the member states of the Caribbean, by adapting their development model, placing equality at the center, can renew their efforts to collectively meet the challenges of the global environment”.
The message which was delivered by the Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), Alicia Bárcena, also indicated that “the strength and the democratic values that the CARICOM countries have demonstrated during four decades”.
Ban said their resilience “in the face of external shocks, such as natural disasters and the global financial crisis.
“I appreciate the contributions of CARICOM countries to numerous issues on the global agenda, including the Millennium Development Goals, climate change, the importance of addressing non-communicable diseases and the unique challenges faced by Small Island Developing States (SIDS).”
He spoke of the economic situation facing CARICOM member-states and the Caribbean region as a whole, putting forward a proposal for a new framework for regional growth and development.
Ban said the global economic situation and the current state of Caribbean economies “pose significant challenges that the region, as an integrated whole, must confront in order to spur growth and foster development with improved social conditions”.
Ban also underscored that the SIDS of the Caribbean, in order to advance their development aspirations, need the continued support of the wider regional and international community.
In this regard, he called for a “global partnership for prosperity of all states, especially small vulnerable SIDS”.
The UN Secretary General urged that this “partnership” be built on three key pillars: the use of a structural gap approach for the classification of middle-income countries which includes vulnerabilities; the provision by international financial institutions of an improved funding mechanism to help small states undertake countercyclical policies during recessions; and strengthened aid for trade instruments to help the region build capacity to trade more competitive products and services.
In addition, Ban urged increased effort towards completion of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME).
Using the integration process and the CSME as a platform, as well as its solid base in natural and human resources, he urged the Caribbean to make a “big push” for the structural transformation of its economy.
Ban said that in response to the need to restore the competitiveness of the region, a “bold program of productivity upgrading” in its sectors and activities is needed.
“This would require increased investment in upgrading the skills and competence of workers, greater use of improved and more appropriate capital and equipment, investment in new technologies, especially better use of ICTs (Information Communication Technology), and improved logistics and marketing.”
He also suggested that the Caribbean focus on a “qualitative shift” in its growth model by looking to “green growth” opportunities.
Ban said this is a “critical issue, given the continuing challenge posed by climate change to the SIDS of the Caribbean”.