Pacific region seeking closer ties with CARICOM

(CARICOM Secretariat, Turkeyen, Greater Georgetown, Guyana) His Excellency Edwin Carrington, Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretary-General welcomed the Director for Social Resources Division and Public Health of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), Mr. William Parr, to the headquarters of the CARICOM Secretariat, Monday May 10, for discussions to forge closer relations between the two regions.

Members of the CARICOM Secretariat Executive Management Committee, and other senior officials of the Secretariat from the directorates of Human and Social Development and Foreign and Community Relations as well as the Regional Statistics programme and the Pan Caribbean Partnership Against HIV and AIDS (PANCAP) also met with the SPC representative to establish a platform for collaboration in areas of mutual interests.

The meeting identified three broad areas for enhanced relations. They were: sectoral issues including youth development, statistics and demography; advocacy on matters of common interest in international fora; and inter-agency learning, which entailed sharing experiences about best practices between the two Secretariats.

In an interview after the one-day consultation, Mr. Parr said that closer collaboration was “very much a necessity” among small island states of the Pacific and the Caribbean regions, given their “fragility” to shocks associated with the global economic crisis, access to development aid, climate change, natural disasters and adverse weather conditions.

He pointed out that the Pacific islands were “hit very hard” by the global economic crisis, the preceding fuel crisis, and were currently addressing issues associated with climate change including mitigation, adaptation and risks assessment.

Elaborating on climate change, he said many small island states were not contributors to green house gases, but had noticed the impacts more so than larger nations.

“From that viewpoint alone, we should be collaborating,” he stated.

The fact that SPC and CARICOM operated in comparable geographic environments and had common aims and objectives to serve small island states, strengthened his organisation’s interest in forging closer ties.

Faced with “similar vulnerabilities and challenges,” he said, there was much SPC and the Caribbean Community could learn from each other.

He said that SPC would be particularly interested in learning more about the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME), since such a model did not exist among the Pacific islands.

Further, he said the Community’s approach to strengthening functional cooperation and harmonising the work of specific sectors into clusters were other areas his organisation could explore.

In addition, he said there was much the Pacific region could gather from the work of the PANCAP; the CARICOM Youth Ambassador programme and the CARICOM Advocate for Gender Justice and Equality.

SPC comprises 26 member states including four metropolitan countries: Australia, France, New Zealand and the United States of America, and 22 Pacific island nations.

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