Incoming CARICOM chair, David Granger, urges strengthening of regional integration movement

Guyanese President and incoming CARICOM Chair, David Granger

Guyana is set to assume the chairmanship of the 15-member Caribbean Community (CARICOM) grouping with President David Granger saying that 2017 holds great promise for the Caribbean countries to advance the integration process which can only be possible through the involvement and participation of all.

“Let us resolve to play our part in strengthening our Caribbean community and to making regional unity a living, breathing experience,” Granger said in a message ahead of taking over from Dominica’s Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit, effective January 1.

Granger, who will hold the position for the next 6 months, said that 2016 marked the mid-point of the 5-Year Strategic Plan which he described as “a foundational element in the community’s reform process”.
“That process is geared towards ensuring that our people feel the impact of the integration movement in their daily lives. Integration is not merely about systems and institutions, it is mostly about people,” he said.

“It is in the interest of developing our people that we are taking steps to ensure that they are fully equipped to address the requirements of the 21st-century economy and society. Our commission on human resource development is developing a regional education and human resource strategy with special attention to ICT in education and human resource development,” he added.

Granger said that the CARICOM Single Market and Economy that allows for the free movement of goods, skills, labor and services across the region, remains “the vehicle through which we can achieve the growth and development and timely assessments that will serve to ensure that we maximize its benefits for our citizens.”

Granger said that the Caribbean is well endowed with the requirements for pursuing a green economy, including sources of renewable energy and forests that harbor a significant amount of carbon.

He said, as noted by the Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, “the green economy can be seen as a lens for focusing on and seizing opportunities to advance economic and environmental goals simultaneously”.
“The effects of climate change continue to bedevil our countries as exemplified by Hurricane Matthew. The need to conserve and protect our environment, therefore, becomes even more pressing.
“Such actions will also give us the opportunity to leverage the abundant forests and wetlands as well as the marine resources with which our region is blessed, and utilize them creatively to launch new pathways to social and economic development. This can be accomplished while ensuring that we help in the global commitment to limit the rise in global temperature to below 1.5 degrees.”

Granger said that Caribbean people made a considerable contribution to the global community in the sphere of culture, and that later this year the region’s premier cultural exposition, the Caribbean Festival of the Arts, will be held in Barbados.

The 13th edition of this festival, bringing together the peoples of CARICOM as well as the wider Caribbean, will take place under the theme ‘Asserting our Culture: Celebrating Ourselves’, and Granger added “we certainly look forward to widespread participation to make the event a tremendous success”.

In his statement, Granger added that the safety and security of the region is of paramount importance, noting “as we move forward with implementing a regional crime and security strategy, we will be building on the platform already established by concluding legal agreements with respect to arrest warrants and asset forfeiture”. -(CMC)