Published On: Fri, Mar 14th, 2014

Jamaican PM upbeat about CARICOM focus on climate change

Portia Simpson MillerKINGSTON, Jamaica - Jamaica’s Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller has expressed satisfaction with the increased focus that the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) has placed on the issue of climate change, which is critical for the future sustainability of the region.

She said climate change, which has been gaining prominence globally, is of great significance for small island states, especially in light of the freak storm last year, which devastated the three sister islands of Saint Lucia, Dominica, and St Vincent and the Grenadines.

Simpson Miller was speaking following her participation in the just concluded 25th inter-sessional meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of CARICOM, which was held in St Vincent and the Grenadines.

“I think it is good that (the issue of climate change is) receiving special focus from our region. Jamaica is certainly paying special attention to what is happening in that (regard),” she said.

She said the government of Jamaica has long recognised the importance of climate change, and had in fact created a ministry which also has responsibility for climate change issues. During the meeting, heads of government emphasised the need to enhance the region’s engagement in the climate change negotiation process and to increase the region’s access to available climate change financial resources.

They agreed on the establishment of a task force on climate change and small island developing states (SIDS) to provide guidance to Caribbean climate change negotiators, their ministers and political leaders in order to ensure the strategic positioning of the region in the negotiations.

In the meantime, Simpson Miller said the meeting went well, with Jamaica participating fully in the discussions.

She said a number of key issues were discussed, which are of importance to the region, in the over 20-item agenda. These included the economic situation of member states, as well as the recommendations of the CARICOM Commission on the Economy, that was established in September 2013 to advise on a sustainable growth strategy for the Community.

The recommendations are aimed at restoring confidence in the economic management and governance of CARICOM economies, and laying the foundation for an innovative resource mobilisation strategy to support the regional growth agenda.

During a caucus session, Simpson Miller, who is chairman of the CARICOM prime ministerial sub-committee on external negotiations, briefed heads on the progress, which has been made so far in the CARICOM-Canada trade and development agreement, and the approach being taken by CARICOM in the negotiations.

The prime minister commended outgoing chairman of the Conference of Heads of Government of CARICOM, prime minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Kamla Persad-Bissessar, on her tenure and praised the new chairman, prime minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines, Dr Ralph Gonsalves on successfully hosting his first meeting.

The inter-sessional meeting, which officially opened on Monday, wrapped up on Tuesday. The three-day event started with the eighth meeting of the prime ministerial sub-committee on the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME on Sunday.

The deliberations focused on information and communications technology (ICT), human resource development, and sustainable development of the region’s economies.

Heads of government also looked at the reform process towards the establishment of a five-year strategic plan for growth and development in the region, as well as issues of citizenship, security, reparations for native genocides and slavery, and the use of marijuana for medical or health purposes. The CARICOM heads also received a report on the implications of the Shanique Myrie ruling.

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