UN reassures commitment to the Caribbean on SDGs, including special needs for island states

Jul 21, 2017

UN Secretary General António Guterres and CARICOM Secretary-General Irwin LaRocque at the United Nations headquarters on 21 July. Photo: UN Photo

New York, 21 July 2017 – In what UN Secretary-General António Guterres called “an excellent opportunity to enhance cooperation”, on 20 and 21 July, representatives of more than 30 entities of the UN system met with a delegation from the Caribbean Community (CARICOM)’s Secretariat and associated institutions at UN Headquarters in New York.

CARICOM Secretary-General Irwin LaRocque outlined some of the major challenges, including the adverse effects of climate change, graduation from concessional development financing based on GDP per capita and not taking into account the inherent vulnerability of Small Island Developing States (SIDS), crime and violence, the illicit trade in drugs and small arms, the threat of terrorism and extreme violence, the blacklisting of CARICOM member States as non-cooperative tax jurisdictions despite their compliance with the relevant OECD regimes, the withdrawal of correspondent banking relations, and the high economic cost of addressing non-communicable diseases.

Speaking about the adverse impacts of climate change in SIDS, particularly in the Caribbean context, Ambassador La Roque stressed: “It is not coming. It is already here. We are faced with increased and more severe climatic events. Our Member States must continue to rebuild social and economic infrastructure destroyed by these events, thereby incurring more debt, and at graduated interest rates in many instances,” he said, amplifying the special circumstances that International Financial Institutions should consider in granting access to concessionary financing.

Further, the CARICOM Secretary-General noted that CARICOM remained committed to the United Nations as a principal forum for multilateral cooperation and a platform from which small states can be seen and heard. He expressed satisfaction that the UN System had been actively engaged with CARICOM in convincing the international community that vulnerability must be considered in determining the sustainable development needs of SIDS.

“UNDP has been instrumental in establishing a Working Group, comprised of the World Bank, the OECD and the Commonwealth to examine the issue of vulnerability. UNECLAC has also been active through a proposal for a debt for climate adaptation swap within the Caribbean Community. This innovative proposal encourages recognition of the peculiar circumstances of CARICOM SIDS. It has been discussed and will receive further attention from our Ministers of Finance later this year,” Secretary-General LaRocque stated.

“Quite apart from the opportunity it gives our organizations to improve practical cooperation, the General Meetings also serve as a kind of megaphone to make the international community better aware of the issues affecting the region,” said Martha Doggett, director of DPA’s Americas Division.

The UN Development Group Chair for Latin America and the Caribbean, Jessica Faieta, stressed that the United Nations will be a solid partner of the Caribbean as the region intensifies its efforts to achieve the SDGs.

“Agenda 2030 is our shared, global strategy for ending poverty, protecting the planet and ensuring that all people enjoy peace and prosperity, not only this generation but future ones,” Ms. Faieta said, highlighting the UN family’s commitment to be effective in its support to Caribbean countries, with great alignment between UN activities, in particular those in collaboration and support of CARICOM.

At the conclusion of the Ninth General Meeting, participants adopted a Joint Statement that will form their blueprint for cooperation until the Tenth General Meeting, set to take place in 2019 in Georgetown, Guyana.

With information from CARICOM and the UN Department of Public Affairs.

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