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Special guest brings good tidings to CARICOM Heads

The $44.8 million (CAN) in new funds to tackle climate change and $12.3 million (CAD) directed to Haiti were welcomed news to the Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), as they focussed on these and other priorities at their 44th Regular Meeting.

Convened in The Bahamas from February 15 to 17, Heads addressed climate change, food security and community governance, including the escalating crisis in CARICOM member state Haiti.

Invited as a special guest, Prime Minister of Canada, the Rt. Hon. Justin Trudeau, announced that $44.8 (CAD) million will be made available through the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre and the Caribbean Biodiversity Fund to improve marine and coastal ecosystem management, increase water security and help governments better respond to the impacts of climate change and natural disasters.

In their Communiqué, Heads referred to the “efforts by Prime Minister Trudeau to strengthen and deepen the special relationship between CARICOM and Canada. They also welcomed his offer of charting new strategic partnerships, built on modern realities, including the diversification of the economic relationships and addressing climate change and doing both in ways that would create good jobs in all the countries.”

They expressed disappointment in the 27th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) (COP 27) held at Sharm El-Sheik, Egypt, for failing to deliver on its headline agenda of implementation. Stating that COP “ended with only weak climate finance and mitigation outcomes,” they “agreed to conduct high-level political advocacy amongst major economies to encourage greater ambition to limit global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.”

Prime Minister Trudeau told the regional leaders that Canada is providing “$10 million to support the International Office on Migration to strengthen the protection and resilience of Haitian women and children along the Haiti-Dominican Republic border and in migrants’ place of origin. And we will invest an additional $12.3 million in humanitarian assistance,” he said, noting that Canada has provided humanitarian assistance for Haitian people throughout this crisis.

The crisis in Haiti, where poverty and gang violence dominate, was addressed by several Heads and resulted in a separate statement. Acknowledging both “moral and political obligations” to support efforts that will help return Haiti to peace and stability “as a necessary precursor for free, fair and credible elections,” the regional leaders “affirmed that decisive action is needed at the earliest opportunity by CARICOM in view of the mounting insecurity and its widespread impact on all facets of Haitian life.”

Also acknowledging the various forms of security assistance provided by Canada, they placed “emphasis on strengthening the capacity of the Haitian National Police to protect the general population from criminal activities.”  Agreeing to participate in a meeting to be convened in Haiti with Haitian stakeholders “to assist in the development of a plan to restore security and the rule of law,” they stated that the December 21, 2022 political agreement, the National Consensus for an Inclusive Transition and Transparent Elections launched by Hon Ariel Henry, Interim Prime Minister of Haiti, needs “to be more inclusive.” As a result, CARICOM will “convene an early meeting of stakeholders in Jamaica.”  

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