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“People of the Caribbean Community, we have a lot to be proud of and a lot to look forward to. Let us strive to make 2016 one to remember as a landmark year for our integration movement.” – The Hon Dean Barrow, Prime Minister of Belize and Incoming Chairman of CARICOM
With the firm resolution to strengthen the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) to provide greater benefits for its peoples, the Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister of Belize assumes the six-month chairmanship of the Community from 1 January 2016.
He succeeds the Rt. Hon. Freundel Stuart, Prime Minister of Barbados.
In a message to usher in the New Year, Prime Minister Barrow pointed out that there was a lot to be proud of and a lot to look forward to.
Our resolution is to continue to strengthen our integration movement to deliver ever-increasing benefits to the people of our Community. We will continue our quest to improve our standard of living through providing a safe, viable and prosperous Caribbean Community. In so doing we will build on our successes and will be moving forward with a number of initiatives to achieve that aim,” he said.
Making a commitment to build on past successes and to become more efficient in the face of the “sternest economic test that Member States have had to face in recent memory,” the incoming-Chair looked forward to increasing the pace both of the CARICOM Reform process and the implementation of the Community Strategic Plan 2015-2019.
The Plan, which is designed to build CARICOM’s economic, environmental, social and technological resilience, has the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) as an important vehicle in that drive for greater resilience. Therefore, Prime Minister Barrow signalled CARICOM’s commitment to vigorously pursue the consolidation of the Single Market.
“We will be making our governance arrangements more flexible and dynamic. We will be continuing efforts in the coming year to revise those arrangements for our integration movement to become more effective and relevant to the needs of our people.”
A significant element of his resolution as the New Year dawns is encouraging more Member States to join the Belize, Barbados, Dominica, and Guyana in making the Caribbean Court of Justice their final court.
In my view, another relevant factor in the lives of our people is the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ). The creation of our own jurisprudence will help define us as a people, and the excellent, well-reasoned judgements which have been the hallmark of the CCJ are ample proof of the intellectual quality of the legal minds of this Community. During my stewardship of the Community, I look forward to more Member States joining the four of us in the Appellate Jurisdiction of the CCJ,” Prime Minister Barrow said.
He emphasised the strength in unity in achieving CARICOM’s plans, exemplifying the manner in which it rallied to attain the objectives of the three major international conferences in the past year, most recently at COP 21 in Paris.
“The binding decisions taken on Financing for Development, the 2030 Development Goals and Climate Change have great potential to boost our growth and development and bolster our resilience. It is therefore in our interest to use our coordinated foreign policy to advocate at every opportunity for urgent implementation of those decisions. In so doing we will be seeking the support of our International Development Partners as well as other Small Island and Low-lying Coastal Developing States (SIDS),” the Incoming-Chairman stated.
“I assume the chairmanship of our Community, following the incisive and decisive leadership of the Prime Minister of Barbados, the Rt. Honourable Freundel Stuart. His guidance during the past six months has been highly appreciated by his colleague Heads of Government,” he added.
Credit: CARICOM Today
The land under our feet is ancient. Minerals and organic material have mixed together over decades, if not centuries and millennia, to provide the bed upon which our food is grown. The plants which grow in this soil are not only the basis for food and fibre they are also contribute to our supply of clean water and are a storage place for carbon. Land is the key for life and livelihoods today.
As the global population increases in the years to come, and as climate change affects the availability of water, with consequences for water and food security, land will become even more important. Dry lands hold a significant proportion of the world’s soil carbon stock, and land degradation contributes to greenhouse gas emissions. Sustainable land management is therefore a key climate change mitigation strategy.
Biodiversity conservation and sustainable land management will be critical for managing our ecosystems so that they can support improved water security for food production as well as being more resilient to climate change.
Ecosystem-based adaptation, which integrates biodiversity and ecosystem services into an overall adaptation strategy, can be cost-effective and generate social, economic and cultural co-benefits. This approach can contribute to the conservation of biodiversity while providing climate change adaptation benefits.
The Tenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties, held 2010 in Japan, adopted the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 and twenty Aichi Biodiversity Targets, which provide a framework for biodiversity conservation, ecosystem restoration and sustainable land management.
In particular, I would like to highlight Aichi Biodiversity Target 15 which calls for the enhancement of the resilience of ecosystems and the restoration of at least 15% of degraded ecosystems, thereby contributing to climate change mitigation and adaptation and to combating desertification. Also relevant are: Target 5 which aims that by 2020, the rate of loss of all natural habitats, including forests, is at least halved and where feasible brought close to zero, and degradation and fragmentation is significantly reduced; Target 7, which calls for areas under agriculture, aquaculture and forestry to be managed sustainably, ensuring conservation of biodiversity; and, Target 14, which aims that by 2020, ecosystems that provide essential services, including services related to water, and contribute to health, livelihoods and well-being, are restored and safeguarded, taking into account the needs of women, indigenous and local communities and the poor and vulnerable.
As sister Rio Conventions, the Convention on Biological Diversity and the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification have many areas of convergence, the most significant being the work to conserve, restore and sustainably utilize dry-land ecosystems. In fact, the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 and its Aichi Biodiversity Targets provide strong bases for implementing the synergies between the two Conventions at the national level.
As we prepare to celebrate the World Day to Combat Desertification let us strive for sustainable strategies that integrate the management of land, water and biodiversity through sustaining ecosystem services. In this way we can combat desertification, help adapt to climate change and achieve the goals of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020.
Credit: United Nations Decade on Biodiversity