- Says inaugural Africa-CARICOM Summit should be used to charter a path forward
Georgetown, Guyana (September 7, 2021) –His Excellency Dr Irfaan Ali today said that there are no reasons preventing African nations and members of CARICOM from initiating greater socio-economic collaboration.
The President added that the inaugural meeting should be used as an opportunity to forge greater partnerships, especially in areas like climate change and food security.
The Head of State made these remarks at State House during the virtual historic Africa-CARICOM Summit, which was attended by Heads of State from CARICOM and Africa, and members from regional and international organisations.
The Summit was chaired by the President of the Republic of Kenya, His Excellency Uhuru Kenyatta and was held under the theme “Unity across Continents and Oceans; Opportunities for Deepening Integration”.
“Africa and the Caribbean are no strangers to each other. As expressed by my colleagues, the bonds that exist between us are based on blood, history and culture; these ties are strong and enduring.”
President Ali said that both regions represent creative and dynamic forces within the international community, and as a result, “there is no reason why we should not initiate greater socio-economic collaboration.”
He emphasised that the onus remains on the two regions to forge a path forward that is based on shared interests and common objectives.
This union, he added, can help enhance their respective regions when they take part in the UN General Assembly later this month and the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in October.
The President added that the pandemic is highlighting the disparity between the developed and the developing world. “It also re-emphasises that fundamentally, it is the developing world that suffers the most under these circumstances.”
He said that moving forward, a forged collaboration between the two regions should address the COVID-19 pandemic and recovery; climate change, mitigation and adaptation measures; food security; and the cost of commodities and transportation.
“In relation to the pandemic, we must have a forceful message on issues relating to rescheduling of loans, debt financing, access to capital in our rebuilding efforts, and an evaluation of the global vaccination system along with its failure to respond to the most vulnerable in the world.”
As it relates to climate change, the Head of State noted that developing countries like Guyana and its sister states in the Caribbean are facing great difficulties.
“We have not been historically responsible, but we suffer the greatest and are least equipped to respond. Our countries are bearing the brunt of increasing and more intense climate-related events. We must, therefore, collectively advocate for greater financial flows to help us adapt to the impacts of the climate emergency, including through the establishment of a Global Vulnerability Fund.”
The President noted that the largest polluters, and developed countries that already have achieved economic diversification, carry a greater responsibility as it relates to climate change.
Specifically, as it relates to Guyana, the President reminded the Summit that the country removes more carbon dioxide than it emits—a rare feat.
“We, therefore, believe that we should benefit economically from this service that our forests are providing to the global eco-system and, to this end, we hope that discussions on the “rulebook” under the Paris Agreement will advance at the upcoming COP26.”
He also noted that the country’s development is based on a Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) that will transform the country’s economy and deliver better socio-economic benefits to the people.
FOOD SECURITY AND COST
President Ali also highlighted that the pandemic has shown the region’s weaknesses and vulnerability as it relates to food supply and the sensitivity of the markets to price changes. He noted that it is therefore essential that issues surrounding food security, supply and availability, form an important part of the actionable agenda.
The Head of State also pointed out that the Region has suffered immensely from the rising cost of commodities and transportation services during the pandemic.
“We must therefore address these issues through a common theme as we, the developing economies, would find it even more difficult to cope with and rebuild post-COVID. Having regards for all of the above, achieving the SDGs as outlined in Agenda 2030 is severely threatened, and we must all point this out to the global community.”
The President added that Guyana is looking forward to a sustained and strengthened relationship between the Caribbean and Africa.
“We pledge our wholehearted support to ensuring the success of this endeavour. Africa and the Caribbean are no strangers to each other; we are brothers and sisters. Economic integration must be driven by people, technology, policies and partnership aimed at one objective—the prosperity of both our peoples.”
Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, the Honourable Hugh Todd and Director of Projects in the Office of the President, Mrs Marcia Nadir-Sharma were also at the Summit.