CARICOM will identify new avenues for partnerships – says incoming Chair Pres. Ali

The content originally appeared on: INews Guyana
President Dr Irfaan Ali

NEW YEAR STATEMENT BY THE INCOMING CHAIRMAN OF THE CARIBBEAN COMMUNITY (CARICOM)

HIS EXCELLENCY MOHAMED IRFAAN ALI

PRESIDENT OF THE COOPERATIVE REPUBLIC OF GUYANA

As the incoming Chairman of CARICOM, I extend warm New Year’s greetings to all citizens across our beloved Caribbean Community. May 2024 be for all of us a year of good remembrance.

The last six months of 2023 saw CARICOM under the Chairmanship of the Honourable Roosevelt Skerritt, Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of Dominica. My first words must be of thanks on behalf of CARICOM, for his outstanding leadership during that time – qualities that will remain with us as I invite his continued participation as a Member of the Bureau – and of course, his active involvement as a Member of Conference as CARICOM implements critical initiatives to the benefit of all our people.

This New Year brings renewed possibilities to continue targeted programmes to advance CARICOM’s strategic priorities with the objective of pursuing the Region’s development goals, and striving for peace and prosperity across our Caribbean Community.

Regional security is an increasingly critical matter. We live in a world where peace is challenged from one corner of the universe to the next. We ended 2023, however, with CARICOM’s robust role in assuring the rule of international peace and security in our corner on the world and ensuring that Latin America and the Caribbean as a whole remained a Zone of Peace. We shall continue 2004 with this respect for international law. We all remain committed to peacefully and by legal means resolving border controversies.

We are resolved to effectively address crime and violence in our Region, including combatting the illegal weapons trade through our “War on Guns” campaign. We will leave no stone unturned in our efforts to return our Member State, Haiti, to peace and stability. Our Region must remain a Zone of Peace.

Ensuring our Region’s food and nutrition security continues to be at the forefront of our endeavours. Despite adverse challenges, including climate change, CARICOM Member States have made steady progress towards achieving our ‘25% by 2025’ target to reduce the Region’s food import bill. We will build on these achievements, including advancing our regional agenda for energy services that are available, reliable, affordable and sustainable – to support expected innovations in the agricultural sector. Crucial to this initiative is the need to improve regional transportation and this will remain as one of our top priorities.

We will continue our advocacy for early and fair operationalisation of the Loss and Damage Fund, agreed at COP28, and we shall continue our insistence on fulfilment of the commitments made by major emitters to be converted to actions to reduce emissions that lead to climate change with its deleterious impact on vulnerable Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and Low-lying Coastal Developing States, such as CARICOM Member States. We all know that SIDS do not contribute in any meaningful way to climate change, but we carry the heaviest burden of the impact: from more and stronger tropical cyclones to increasingly scarce and saline ground water, to disappearing coastal lands, to degrading marine eco-systems, to stress on agriculture and other sectors. This is why our call for fair access to affordable financing to address the impact of climate change must and will continue.

2023 was a period of reflection as we marked the 50th Anniversary of our integration movement. We will continue to advance these ideals with the requisite undertakings which will allow CARICOM nationals to exercise their right to free movement within the Community and to bring the regional capital market into being. We will also work on ensuring greater participation of all sectors of our Community, including the private sector, labour organisations and civil society, in building our CARICOM Single Market and Economy.We will identify new avenues for targeted partnerships, especially with our young people, to encourage innovative approaches and renewed energy for sustained economic development and convergence.

Our objective is to improve the lives of our citizens, through purposeful and sustained cooperation, by delivering high-quality health services, a more relevant system of education for young people, secure and amenable living environments, new jobs and a financial climate that is conducive to investments.

I am heartened by the tangible evidence of what our collective action and determination have already achieved. I remain confident that the ongoing and new initiatives being implemented will help to ensure that CARICOM is truly “A Community for All”.

Guyana is honoured to Chair the Conference of Heads of Government for the period 1 January to 30 June. I look forward to welcoming all CARICOM Heads of State and Government to Georgetown in February 2024, where we will host the 46th Regular Meeting of the Conference and continue our Community’s activities to mark CARICOM’s 50th Anniversary.

Let us approach this New Year with optimism, and a strengthened desire to pursue our shared objectives of unity and prosperity.

I wish you all a peaceful and prosperous 2024!

May God bless you all.