Caricom Secretary General says much progress made in 2023
GEORGETOWN, Guyana, CMC – Caribbean Community (Caricom) Secretary General, Dr Carla Barnett, said Wednesday the regional integration movement this year made progress on programmes and policies “to positively impact the lives of the people of our region”.
In an end-of-year message, Barnett, the first woman to hold the position as the region’s top public servant, promised that the Guyana-based Caricom Secretariat “will continue to diligently administer the Community’s priorities of deepening economic integration and trade, strengthening foreign policy coordination and community relations and human and social development, sustainable development, and regional security.”
“In particular, we are focused on efforts to implement the free movement of all Caricom nationals within the Community by March 2024 as determined by Heads of Government,” she added.
Barnett said the progress in 2023 also coincided with Caricom’s “landmark year” as it celebrated its 50th anniversary of the signing of the original Treaty of Chaguaramas with festivities across the region.
“The occasion allowed us to reflect on our accomplishments, and recommit to the vision of Caricom’s founders,” she said, adding that the “past 50 years have taught us that with collective action we can achieve significantly more.”
“With one voice we decried the devastating wars that have precipitated humanitarian crises and signalled our support for the adherence to the fundamental principles of international law, respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity, most recently in the Guyana-Venezuela border controversy. We continued our strident advocacy for international support to help return our sister member state, Haiti, to peace and stability, and for support to the War on Guns which is negatively impacting security across our region,” Barnett continued.
Barnett said Caricom made progress on programmes and policies agreed by regional leaders.
She went on to say that “we made commendable progress on the 25 per cent by 2025 initiative to reduce the region’s food import bill, thereby taking us a step further towards the attainment of food security in our region”.
Barnett said purposeful engagements with regional and international partners and forums,such as the flagship event the Caribbean Week of Agriculture, allowed for meaningful interaction with the private sector and other stakeholders.
She said the region’s advocacy for decisive action to mitigate the adverse effects of climate change continued throughout the year, including at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (CCOP 28) in Dubai, “where we emphasised the vulnerabilities of our region, the need to operationalise the Loss and Damage Fund, and the special case for acknowledgement of the extreme vulnerability of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and countries with low-lying coastal communities who do not contribute significantly to the cause of climate change but bear the greatest burden”.
Barnett said Caricom welcomed the call to countries for a just transition to renewable energy and reduced methane emissions, but this does not go far enough.
“The transition must be wider and it requires much greater urgency of action by the major emitters in order to keep 1.5 alive. Peaking emissions before 2025 and timelines for elimination of fossil fuel subsidies, starting now, are needed to safeguard the 1.5 global warming temperature limit,” the Secretary-General explained.
She further stated that Caricom continued to advance international partnerships and mechanisms to protect and promote the region’s socio-economic interests.
“Deliberate efforts were made, such as through the regional Youth Forum held in Jamaica in November, to include the perspectives and participation of our young people, whose input is critical to the sustainability of our efforts,” Barnett said.
At the same time, she thanked the international partners, the private sector, labour organisations, as well as the civil society groups “which have responded so positively to the Secretariat’s efforts towards more structured engagement.”
“Underpinning all we do is a deep desire for a “Community for all”, that is safe, increasingly prosperous and where our men, women and young people will flourish for generations to come. I invite your continued participation in the process to advance this goal,” Barnett added.