Press release 443/2011
(22 November 2011)

SG CALLED ON US TO GIVE CLIMATE CHANGE COMMITMENT
 

 

(CARICOM Secretariat, Turkeyen, Greater Georgetown, Guyana) The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) is urging the United States to commit to the outcome of the Cancun Climate Change Conference.

CARICOM Secretary-General Ambassador Irwin LaRocque made the call at the accreditation ceremony of the new US Ambassador to the Community, His Excellency D, Brent Hardt at the CARICOM Secretariat’s Georgetown, Guyana headquarters on Tuesday.

The Secretary- General acknowledged and commended the US Government’s efforts to initiate programmes such as ECPA which has 40 projects underway throughout the Americas including in some CARICOM Member States but pointed out that the best way to combat climate change was on a global level and within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

“The Region therefore urges the US to commit to the outcome of the Cancun Climate Change Conference in order to advance the chances of mitigation and adaptation for our Small Island Developing and low-lying Coastal States faced with the ravages of climate change, as we approach the negotiations in Durban, South Africa in December of this year,” Ambassador LaRocque said.

The Secretary-General said the both sides had identified security, closer economic linkages, and climate change among areas they will continue to focus on as they advance relations. In acknowledging the robust and friendly relations CARICOM and the US enjoyed, he pointed out that the relationship had evolved, and was changing and adapting as their respective domestic circumstances and geopolitics required.

The one constant, Ambassador LaRocque said, was the strength of the relationship and the goodwill which were manifested in various activities at several levels. He singled out the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative (CBSI), launched last year, under which the US government had provided significant funding to projects and initiatives in the Region to reduce drug trafficking, enhance public safety and security and promote social justice.

“This arrangement is mutually beneficial to both the US and the Region in the face of on-going threats to the security of our respective countries,” Amb LaRocque said, and added that he was deeply appreciative of US support “in this important area which is fundamental to providing the right environment for securing our objective of sustainable development”.

In the area of trade, the Secretary-General referred to ongoing discussions on a Revised Trade and Investment Framework (TIFA) which will form the basis for CARICOM-US engagements on trade and economic cooperation. He also pointed to the International Diaspora Engagement Alliance (IDEA) which will bring together governments, corporations and non-profit organizations to facilitate Diaspora communities in the promotion of trade and investment, job creation, business start-ups and the development of projects that will benefit their countries of origin.

In remarks after presenting his credentials, Ambassador Hardt also spoke of the CBSI, describing the initiative as a “new and innovative approach” to security that sought to address both root causes and consequences of crime and violence that threatened the social fabric and economic vitality of CARICOM Member States.

He added that the US was committed to concluding a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement, and was pleased that recent discussions had brought the two sides closer to that common goal.

“We would also welcome an early meeting of the Trade and Investment Council. The extension of the Caribbean Basin Trade Partnership Act for a further ten year period through 2020 will ensure continued preferential access to the U.S. market for Caribbean products that can stimulate growth and job creation in the Caribbean region,” the new envoy said.

With reference to IDEA, Ambassador Hardt said that the initiative would bridge the gap between the Diaspora and entrepreneurs in their countries of origin.

“We want to promote trade, help start businesses, and develop new models for spurring economic growth. The Caribbean is the first region in the world selected to demonstrate the potential of this alliance, whose access to capital and technical assistance should begin bearing fruit next year. In November, the State Department, in partnership with the IDB, Canada’s CIDA, the UK’s DFID, and key private sector organizations including Scotia Bank and Digicel, will launch Caribbean Idea Marketplace (CIM). CIM is a business competition that will call on members of the Caribbean Diaspora to submit innovative business proposals. The winning proposals will receive matching grants ranging from $50,000 to $500,000 as well as special financing,” Amb Hardt said.

The United States, he added, shared the view that closer economic integration and expanded trade opportunities were fundamental to the prosperity and sustainable development of the Region.

With respect to climate change, Ambassador Hardt said that his country recognized the “disproportionate impact” of climate change on small island nations and low lying coastal regions such as such as those in the Caribbean. As such, the US was committed to cooperate with CARICOM countries and institutions under the ECPA to support energy efficiency, encourage renewable energy development, and mitigate the impact of climate change.

CONTACT: piu@caricom.org
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