Opening Remarks by Ambassador Colin Granderson, Assistant Secretary-General, Foreign and Community Relations to the Second Meeting of Senior Officials of the Dialogue between CARICOM and Canada, 10 December 2021

  • Co-Chairs
  • Senior Officials of Canada and the Caribbean Community
  • Good Morning

It gives me immense pleasure to welcome the participants in the Second Meeting of Senior Officials of the Dialogue between the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and Canada.  Allow me to first  express our sincere appreciation to the Government of Canada for the logistical arrangements put in place for our meeting and, more importantly, for launching the Dialogue engagement mechanism, which has led to meetings at the Foreign Ministers and Senior Officials level over the past two years.

Co-Chair, colleagues, the Member States of the Caribbean Community highly value the longstanding and friendly relationship that has been forged with Canada, and the excellent spirit of cooperation that has characterised the CARICOM-Canada relationship over the years. Our engagement today represents another step in solidifying these bonds of friendship.

This meeting is taking place at a time when some of the gravest challenges in recent memory – the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change and the erosion of multilateralism among others – burden the international community. Global issues require global responses based on solidarity and collective action.  The meeting will therefore highlight the importance of multilateral engagement and of cooperation in addressing these challenges. Taking into account the above, it is not surprising that an aspect of our discussions will focus on addressing the pandemic and recovering from its multifaceted effects.  At a moment when the new variant is spreading the infection more rapidly than before, the related issues of access to vaccines and vaccine hesitancy have become even more acute. The economic impact of the pandemic has been devastating for the Caribbean region, which has been identified by the International Financial Institutions as, globally, the region most deeply affected economically. The issues of recovery and of access to concessional financing are therefore a priority that the meeting will address.

Our meeting is taking place on the heels of the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in the United Kingdom.  Attention will therefore be paid to climate change. It represents a threat for the entire world, but for the small states of CARICOM, which are   among the smallest emitters but the most adversely affected, it is an existential threat.  CARICOM appreciates Canada’s understanding of the challenges facing Small Island and Low-Lying Coastal Developing States (SIDS). The Community looks forward to its continued support on this issue in international fora.

By compelling us to meet virtually, the pandemic has facilitated in a counterintuitive way the convening of meetings that help us to advance discussions and put forward concrete proposals.  Our discussions this morning provide us with the opportunity to follow-up on the commitments made at our first meeting of the Dialogue while exploring avenues where we can enhance cooperation. It is therefore more than fitting that our discussions will touch on a   follow-up mechanism or “road map”, which would make our engagements more productive.

Co-Chair and colleagues, we have a short but substantive agenda before us this morning.  Fora such as these enable an open and frank dialogue between friends that ensures clarity and strengthens the relationship.  We anticipate a productive and successful meeting.

I thank you

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