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CARICOM Countries to Establish Task Force on Post-2015 Agenda, SDGs

CARICOM8 July 2013: The 34th Regular Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) convened in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, from 4-6 July 2013. In honor of CARICOM's 40th anniversary, the meeting's theme was '40 Years of Integration: Celebration and Renewal.'

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, in a statement delivered by Alicia Bárcena, Executive Secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), expressed appreciation for the contributions of CARICOM countries to, inter alia, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), climate change, and the importance of addressing non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and the unique challenges faced by small island developing States (SIDS). He welcomed the election of John Ashe, Antigua and Barbuda, as incoming President of the UN General Assembly (UNGA), and called attention to the upcoming Seventh UN-CARICOM General Meeting. He also emphasized that the Caribbean SIDS need continued support of the wider regional and international community, and called for a global partnership in this regard, advocating for a “qualitative shift” in their growth model by looking to green growth opportunities.

During the meeting, CARICOM countries agreed to, inter alia: strengthen the regional framework for growth and development, which includes all stakeholders and would increase the knowledge base, innovation capability and entrepreneurial capacity of countries; begin a regional dialogue to highlight and address issues and challenges faced by poor, vulnerable and marginalized groups persons; convene a high-level meeting on persons with disabilities and special needs; and establish a regional task force to coordinate CARICOM's strategic engagement in defining the post-2015 development agenda and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and preparations for the Third International Conference on SIDS in 2014. They proposed that the task force include members of the Open Working Group on SDGs (OWG) and the Intergovernmental Committee of Experts on Sustainable Development Financing.

Participants also discussed: human resource development; health and HIV/AIDS; establishing a regional think tank on security; external trade; and information and communication technology (ICT).

In statements made during the meeting, CARICOM Secretary-General Irwin LaRocque emphasized that CARICOM is the longest-surviving integration grouping among developing countries, and second only to the EU globally, and that a people-centered approach to development is at the heart of CARICOM's integration arrangements. CARICOM Chair Kamla Persad-Bissessar, Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, said the current reform process aimed to bring about institutional and structural transformations necessary to increase the Community's relevance, stressing that
 “the Caribbean Sea unites us; it must never divide us.” [CARICOM Secretariat Website] [CARICOM Press Release] [Remarks of UN Secretary-General]