Trinidad Express / Caricom Secretary General Ambassador Edwin LaRocque has described the year 2017 as one in which the region achieved much. He was speaking particularly against the background of a situation in which the region was buffeted by one natural hazard after the other, in one of the most hard -hitting hurricane seasons in decades.

“Our community has bonded together,” he said, “as its peoples, governments and institutions render yeoman support to the stricken countries.”

As an example of this, here in Trinidad and Tobago, even after the initial reactions of negativity from some quarters, the people and their institutions, private and public sector organisations, civic groups and entertainers, rallied to the regional call to action.

In response to a call from the Prime Minister to open our doors to the people of Dominica in particular, there was massive movement of people, equipment and supplies, to wherever there was a need felt. It is who we are as a people, and despite initial misgivings, and considerations of our own straitened circumstances, just as those among others of our neighbours, we stood and were counted.

Side-by-side with these efforts of genuine humanity, from one end of the region to the other, Ambassador LaRocque was to note the response of the international donor community in relation to what he termed the “relentless advocacy” of the region’s political and technical leadership. This having to do with the negotiations for access to concessional development financing, which he says eppears to be bearing fruit.

In the circumstances, there can be no slacking of the resolve in gaining such access to vital resources which will help place the region on a stronger footing to withstand the ravages of nature in the years ahead.

Ambassador LaRocque also took note of the work of the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency, for its co-ordinating and delivery efforts in bringing relief to thousands of residents in those places where nature’s fury struck hardest.

The Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility also rose to the occasion sufficiently to cushion the shocks from the hits suffered in the process.

At their last summit in Grenada this past July, the region’s political leaders accepted a report on what is called the Human Resource Development Strategy, 2030. This is a document which calls for the harmonisation of teaching and learning methods across the regional integration movement.

And there was the signing of an agreement for the establishment in Barbados of a regional Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency.

These areas, and more, are among those to which priority must be maintained, first to move the decision-making process away from the culture of stop and start which has characterised a lot of the work which has to take place.

But more importantly, they are but a few of the building blocks upon which future progress and development, towards the development of a resilient Caribbean people, have to be built upon.

And has been demonstrated once again over the past year, the people stand ready to play their part.


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