(5 July 2013) The Caribbean region is at an important turning point in its history; 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, expressed the Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) in a message tabled in Trinidad and Tobago.
Alicia Bárcena participated in the 34th Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), which was held in Port of Spain, on behalf of the United Nations' Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon. The meeting was presided over by the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Kamla Persaud-Bissessar, and the CARICOM Secretary General, Ambassador Irwin Larocque.
The summit, attended by the Heads of Government and Foreign Ministers of the Caribbean, celebrated the 40th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Chaguaramas which established the Caribbean Community and reflected the spirit of integration in the region. It was also an important opportunity for reflection and renewal.
Bárcena conveyed the greetings of the UN Secretary-General, who in a special message sent to the meeting highlighted the strength and the democratic values that the CARICOM countries have demonstrated during four decades, and 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)", said Ban Ki-moon in his message tabled by Alicia Bárcena.
In her special message handed over at the heads of government meeting, the ECLAC Executive Secretary made an account of the economic situation facing CARICOM member States and the Caribbean region and put forward a proposal for a new framework for regional growth and development.
Alicia Bárcena noted the impact of the global financial crisis on Caribbean economies, particularly the service based ones. The high-level UN official highlighted that the global 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.
She underscored that the SIDS the Caribbean, to be able to advance their development aspirations, will need the continued support of the wider regional and international community.
In this regard, ECLAC is calling for a global partnership for prosperity of all states, especially small vulnerable SIDS, 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.
Bárcena 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, she encouraged the Caribbean to make a ‘big push' for the structural transformation of its economy.
Bárcena also underscored that, in response to the need to restore the competitiveness of the region, a bold programme 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 and improved logistics and marketing.
She also suggested that the Caribbean focus on a qualitative shift in its growth model by looking to "green growth" opportunities; a critical issue given the continuing challenge posed by climate change to the SIDS of the Caribbean.
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