Incoming chairman of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), Haiti’s President Jovenel Moïse says the regional grouping is moving towards crating the world’s first climate resilient region in the year ahead.
“2018 dawns for the Caribbean Community, with the prospect of seizing an opportunity out of a crisis,” said Moïse in his New Year’s message.
“As we begin the rebuilding process after the devastating hurricanes of last September, as well Hurricane Matthew, which pounded the region on October 3-4, 2016, we do so with the aim of creating the first climate resilient region in the world.
“The absolute necessity to create a climate smart region is clear given the effects of climate change, which have brought us droughts, mega hurricanes, heavy floods and unusual weather patterns, all of which adversely affect our development,” he added.
“The social and economic gains that we have made individually and collectively must be protected against the onslaught of nature. The CARICOM Member States’, as well as the region’s non-member States’ production of greenhouse gases, is practically nil, even though they bear a disproportionate share of the consequences.”
Moïse said the goodwill and pledges, “which have been forthcoming from the international community at two major global conferences in New York and Paris give us hope that the necessary support to achieve our objective will be forthcoming.”
He said the region’s efforts are against the backdrop of the Caribbean Community’s Strategic Plan for the period 2015-19, “which is our guide towards the economic, social, environmental and technological resilience that is needed to produce sustained growth and development for our community.”
The incoming CARICOM chairman said efforts will be made in 2018 in increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) in “providing the basis for our economic growth.”
Moïse said since many of the major legislative and administrative measures for the operations of the Single Market are in effect, it is, therefore, now up to all of the stakeholders in the public and private sectors to ensure they derive maximum benefits from the CSME’s provisions.
“This would enable us to increase our intra-regional trade, share our best human resources, and encourage our entrepreneurs to expand their interests and provide us with a platform to move from market access to market presence in those countries with which we have trade agreements,” he said. “The CSME undoubtedly remains our best vehicle for creating the economic resilience we need.”
The Haitian president also said the reform process underway in the Community will allow the region to conduct its affairs “more efficiently and effectively and will also benefit the operations of the CSME.”
He said member states, regional institutions and the CARICOM Secretariat have been streamlining their interactions to produce the best possible results from the decisions taken by the Heads of Government and the Ministerial Councils.
“We are entering the final two years of the Strategic Plan and the results of the three partners’ efforts at implementing it are beginning to bear fruit.”
But Moïse warned that the solidity and efficiency of that partnership will be “tested as never before given the magnitude of the rebuilding task ahead of us.We have to rebuild with resilience now to forestall damage in the future; in other words, to build back better,” he said. “I am confident that the creativity and determination of our people will allow us to achieve that goal.”
Moïse thanked his predecessor, the Prime Minister of Grenada, Dr Keith Mitchell, for his “outstanding performance in leading the Community during one of the most difficult periods in our history.
“I look forward to building on his achievements,” he said. “With assistance from all, we shall maintain our Community on a path to sustainable development and a safe, secure, viable and prosperous society.”
Moïse said among issues he intends to advance during his tenure will be those related to natural disasters and climate change.
He said Haiti looks forward to welcoming the Community to its shores in February for the 29th Intersessional Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government.
“The warmth and hospitality of the Haitian people await you,” he said, while wishing all CARICOM citizens “a very happy and productive New Year, as we work together to continue building a resilient Community that advances the interests of all its citizens.”