Need for action on communications and public education stressed

BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS, NOVEMBER 2ND 2011 (CUOPM) – Deidre Daniel, Trade Policy Officer in the Ministry of Trade was among Caribbean officials who attended the first of its kind regional forum of CARIFORUM Officials held in St John’s, Antigua and Barbuda.

The meeting stressed the need for action on communications and public education in support of the implementation of the CARIFORUM-EU Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA).

In this Workshop on the Communications and Public Education Dimensions of the Implementation of the CARIFORUM-EU EPA, a major theme was that Communications Strategies are integral to maximizing the impact of EPA implementation work plans.

This link is informed by the recognition that these Strategies outline a vision, well-defined objectives and a coherent plan of action to accomplish strategic goals in respective implementation efforts. In this regard, the importance of twinning national EPA Communications Strategies with respective national EPA implementation work plans was emphasized.

The Workshop was funded under the 9th European Development Fund (EDF), Caribbean Integration Support Programme (CISP). It was also made possible by support from UKaid from the Department for International Development, through the Caribbean Aid for Trade and Regional Integration Trust Fund (CARTFund).

Resources provided by Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) also made the Workshop possible. The Workshop was convened under the aegis of the EPA Implementation Unit within the CARIFORUM Directorate of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat. The forum was designed to draw attention to and provide a ‘tool kit’ for the formulation and execution of a Communications Strategy, in the particular context of trade agreements. In this regard, special attention was given to the EPA.

The proceedings also afforded CARIFORUM Officials an opportunity to apprise the forum on the status of the development/implementation of respective institutional communications and public education work plans, and—where States were in a position—to showcase Communications Strategies. Communications perspectives on EPA implementation were also provided by a team of resource persons drawn from two national business support organizations, a leading regional civil society organization, and regional organizations. Resource persons on hand from the Development Cooperation and Programming Unit of the CARIFORUM Directorate and GIZ lent perspectives on resources that can be brought to bear on EPA-related communications and public education initiatives.

An official from the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) delivered a presentation that took into account the results based approach to project design, in the context of developing a communication monitoring, follow-up, tracking, data base and evaluation plan.

The highlight of the closing session was an exploration of the scope to capitalize on synergies in communications and public education approaches, with respect to those actors that have a stake in EPA implementation.

The just-concluded forum forms part of the regional EPA Implementation Unit’s Communications and Public Education Programme, and it builds on two similar Workshops convened earlier this year: The Regional Media Workshop on the CARIFORUM-EU EPA (14 to 15 March held in Antigua and Barbuda) and The Regional Workshop on the CARIFORUM-EU EPA for Senior Officers of the Government Information Services (17 to 18 March held in St Kitts and Nevis). The fifteen signatory Caribbean Forum of African, Caribbean and Pacific (CARIFORUM) States to the EPA are the independent CARICOM Member States and the Dominican Republic.

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