15 Oct – Caribbean laments widening gap between rich and poor countries

Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries have expressed concerns over the widening gap between rich and poor countries and warn that they may continue to lag behind in pursuit of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Haiti’s Ambassador to the United Nations, Astride Nazaire, told the UN’s Second Committee that it was important for member states to step up their ambitions as they forged the post-2015 development agenda.

“The focus must be on improving its relevance and coherence,” she said, calling for implementation of the Barbados Programme of Action and the Mauritius Strategy for the Further Implementation of the Barbados Programme,

Nazaire said the challenges facing SIDS in agriculture, food security and fair trade were exacerbated by global market turbulence and the effects of climate change.

“Particular attention should be paid to the sustainability of mountains,” she said, pointing out that two thirds of Haiti was covered by mountains.

Expressing disappointment over the absence of migration and development from the Committee’s current agenda, the Haitian diplomat said a substantial resolution would be helpful in recognizing the rights of migrant workers, “which continue to be breached”.

Several delegates emphasized the need for developed countries to deliver on their aid pledges, urging that developed countries ender 0.7 per cent of their gross national income as official development assistance (ODA) to developing countries and 0.15-0.20 per cent to least developed countries.

Delegates also said just as important are collective efforts to mobilize domestic resources, especially since private international capital flows in the form of foreign direct investment (FDI) tend to fade in most developing countries.

Jamaican diplomat Courtenay Rattray noted that the global economic recovery continues to be “slow and unbalanced and compounded challenges faced by small, open economies such as Jamaica’s.

“The challenges faced by middle income countries, such as persistent poverty and inequality, are of great concern, as are the high debt burdens of many developing countries, including the small, vulnerable, island economies of the Caribbean,” she said.

Rattray said climate change is also a matter of “pressing concern,” adding that Jamaica looks forward to the upcoming conference on the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, hoping it would result in a new agreement in 2015.

“We must remain mindful of the fact that we are not engaged in abstract discussions but, rather, are creating the normative framework for effectively addressing matters of survival for our people,” she said.

George Talbot, Guyana’s Charge d’Affaires to the UN, said that steps have already been taken to implement the outcome document of Rio+20, that include the “universalization of membership” to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the strengthening of the Economic and Social Council.

“The architecture of a new development agenda must be coherent, integrated, inclusive and dynamic,” he said.

On climate change, Talbot urged governments to accelerate efforts in addressing environmental degradation, stating that Guyana has adopted a low-carbon development strategy.