Co-chair of the recently concluded 5th meeting of the CARIFORUM-EU Consultative Committee Kozel Peters of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, has underscored the need for CARIFORUM development, to be centered on addressing CARIFORUM specific issues.
Ms. Peters who is also Chair of the Caribbean Policy Development Center (CPDC) posited that agriculture and trade was one of those issues, noting that agriculture trade with the EU continues to decline and CARIFORUM food systems remain threatened.
According to Peters: “Building resilience in CARIFORUM food systems means building sustainability for small food producers, promoting fairer trading systems and markets, building and supporting sustainable value-added initiatives in that way reducing the carbon footprint of our region accumulated through food imports.
She also highlighted: “the growing number of youth unemployment in many island nations and the need to push rigorously for youths’ access to productive resources, among these the establishment of a Caribbean research and development fund to assist young entrepreneurs to be innovative with product development making our economies more competitive.”
Among the other issues of concern highlighted by Peters were the vulnerability and volatility of CARIFORUM SIDS to natural disasters and their consequent impacts on the sustainable development of the Caribbean, specifically on its trade infrastructure; the need for better engagement with and greater respect for civil society, and the uncertainties of Brexit.
She noted that the Caribbean region’s heavy dependence on the UK market in its trade with the EU market calls for the establishment of targeted programmes of restructuring assistance to Caribbean exporters in the event that the UK leaves the EU customs union and single market.
Peters who also heads the Windward Islands Farmers Association(WINFA) said: ”Those are the issues that demand sustainable partnership from us, those are the challenges we cannot face alone that demand the strengthening and consolidation of the space and the resources necessary to ensure the meaningful, contribution of civil society and that call for us to address imbalances in development cooperation capacities, to ensure negotiations are done on equal platforms between the EU and CARIFORUM.”
The CC comprises 40 standing representative of civil society, 25 selected by CARIFORUM and 15 representing organizations based in the UK.
The committee was established to assist the joint council to promote dialogue and co-operation between representatives of civil society.
The mandate of the committee is to make recommendations to the CARIFORUM –EU trade and development Committee and to the CARIFORUM- EU parliamentary committee.
The 5th meeting of the Committee was convened in Brussels on November 26.
Communication Consultant Theresa Daniel also attended representing the Caribbean Organization of Indigenous Peoples (COIP).
The meeting also discussed Post-Cotonou: state of play, implementation and impact of the EU- Cariforum EPA and establishment of a CARIFORUM-EU Center at the European University in Florence.