PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, Friday February 23, 2018 – The Caribbean Community’s push to build a more climate-resilient community following the devastating 2017 hurricane season is among matters for deliberation by CARICOM Heads of Government at their 29th Inter-Sessional Meeting in Haiti’s capital next week.
Irma and Maria, two back-to-back Category Five hurricanes, swept across the Caribbean in September, cutting a swathe of destruction, taking lives, devastating infrastructure and rolling back years of economic development in several CARICOM Member States. Dominica and Barbuda were decimated, Anguilla and the British Virgin Islands were also devastated, The Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands were severely affected, and Haiti and St Kitts and Nevis also suffered damage.
CARICOM, with its Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) at the forefront, has been helping to lead the recovery and rebuilding effort. CARICOM, in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) also staged a High-Level Pledging Conference at UN Headquarters in New York last November which realized over US$1.3 billion in pledges. The region however still needs significant levels of financing for recovery and building resilience. And, with just three months to the June start of the next hurricane season, Heads at the February 26 to 27 meeting are also expected to examine measures to ensure adequate preparation and to facilitate quick responses to any emergency needs.
The high incidence of crime and violence across the Community will also be examined. Heads at their last meeting discussed key initiatives directed towards combatting transnational organized crime which, they noted, continues to be one of the most immediate and significant threats facing the region.They also directed their focus towards the development of a CARICOM Counter terrorism Strategy which is being finalized for adoption.
Next week’s meeting will seek to advance plans to further strengthen key elements of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME), including those related to travel and trade. Discussion will also focus on key transportation issues, including regional air services, and on advancing regional initiatives in tourism aimed at stimulating further sustainable growth in the sector.
Heads will look at the impact on CARICOM Member States of blacklisting actions. Last December, the EU included four member states on a list of countries it deemed non-cooperative tax jurisdictions. There is also ongoing concern about the de-risking strategies by global banks and the labeling of CARICOM Member States in some quarters as tax havens.