Caricom must reposition to navigate the 'new normal'

Saturday, July 07, 2018

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MONTEGO BAY, Jamaica (JIS) — Grenada's Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell says the Caribbean Community (Caricom) must reposition itself to operate in a global landscape characterised by the “new normal”.

According to Mitchell, navigating the new normal means that leaders will have to consolidate their positions on key hemispheric and international issues that hold profound implications for the region.

“This new area requires our governments' unwavering commitment to courageous leadership and an aggressive pursuit of policies and innovation. It also requires holistic decision-making, planning, and action, but more than anything else, partnerships,” he noted.

The Grenadian prime minister was addressing the opening ceremony for the 39th Regular Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of Caricom on Wednesday at the Montego Bay Convention Centre in St James.

He said that climate change and building the region's resilience are among the key issues that must be tackled by the Caricom leaders.

“The 2018 hurricane season is once again upon us. Having witnessed the devastation that we had last year throughout many of our sister islands, the question must be asked, how prepared are we for the next one? What have we done in the months since to individually and collectively strengthen our systems?” he asked.

He said that the region must pursue information and communication technology (ICT) advancement and increase engagement of youth in this area.

“Colleagues, in navigating this new normal, there is one sure vehicle to take us forward in which we are woefully behind in riding… science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) and, perhaps, at the simplest level, ICT, the Internet and information highway,” he said.

Mitchell commended Caricom on the bold steps it has already taken to develop a work plan for the Caricom Single ICT space.

“In a few months, we will be launching a multi-stakeholder partnership to fast-track specific elements of this Single ICT space. All steps in fully implementing this must continue to be clear, even while we push the proverbial technological envelope in rooting out and connecting other programmes and policies to transform the community. Our people must be made to feel Caricom,” he said.

The Single ICT space represents the digital arm of the Caricom Single Market and Economy (CSME).

It is an ICT-enabled borderless space that fosters economic, social and cultural integration for the betterment of Caribbean citizens. It comprises regionally harmonised ICT policies, legislation, regulations, technical standards, best practices, networks, and services.

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