CARICOM SG receives New Zealand Ambassador’s credentials

His Excellency Anton Ojala (r) , New Zealand Ambassador to CARICOM and Ambassador Irwin LaRocque, CARICOM Secretary-General, shake hands at the ceremony
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Secretary-General of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Ambassador Irwin LaRocque has welcomed the assistance of New Zealand to the Region in the field of renewable energy.

In accepting the credentials of His Excellency Anton Ojala as New Zealand’s second Ambassador to CARICOM, the Secretary-General noted the country’s assistance to the development of geo-thermal energy in Member States of the Community. The presentation ceremony was held at the Georgetown, Guyana headquarters of the CARICOM Secretariat on Thursday.

Renewable energy is one of the areas covered in a co-operation Memorandum of Understanding signed by the two parties in 2014. Other areas include climate change, agriculture and disaster risk management. Ambassador LaRocque pointed out that those areas were of tremendous importance to both CARICOM and New Zealand and the collaboration was “valuable and timely.”

The Secretary-General said the Community welcomed New Zealand’s efforts to help strengthen relations between the Small Island and low-lying coastal Developing States (SIDS) of the Caribbean and the Pacific. He said the “there is no greater challenge to our countries than climate change,” and in that regard “as we seek to build our resilience, concessional development financing is needed to assist us.” He said a fundamental reconsideration was required of the current criteria that govern access to such funding.

“New Zealand, as a member of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), is in a position to advocate on our behalf on this and other issues which affect our economic and social development,” he added.

Ambassador Ojala, who extended an invitation to the Secretary-General to visit New Zealand, said that the MOU has provided a framework for the relationship and the commitment of both sides to maintain a schedule of annual consultations has helped to flesh out that framework. The next consultation is scheduled for Barbados in March.

“New Zealand’s commitment to the region is demonstrated not by the fact that we established diplomatic relations with CARICOM and its Member States but that five years later we are continuing to build on those foundations,’ he added.

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