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Launch of Canada-Caribbean Community Foreign Ministers’ Group: Co-chair summary

February 19, 2021

Ottawa, Ontario

Global Affairs Canada

On February 19, 2021, the Honourable Marc Garneau, Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Eamon Courtenay, Belize’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and Immigration and incoming Chair of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Council for Foreign and Community Relations (COFCOR), co-chaired the first meeting of the Canada-CARICOM Foreign Ministers’ Group. 

The ministers discussed coordinated action to manage the impacts of the COVID‑19 pandemic, promoting resilient and sustainable growth and finding innovative solutions to the impacts of climate change.

Fighting COVID‑19 together

The pandemic has laid bare global inequalities around the world and exacerbated the specific challenges faced by small island developing states (SIDS). The ministers discussed the devastating impacts of COVID‑19 in the Caribbean and the necessity of a coordinated response to build a better, more secure and more prosperous future—one where no one is left behind. The Group noted the heavy toll on citizens, economies, livelihoods, health and education systems, and recommitted to, and emphasized the importance of, collaboration and innovative solutions to respond to, and recover from, the COVID‑19 pandemic. The group agreed that equitable access to vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics is critical to ensuring global recovery and further agreed that initiatives like the World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) COVAX Facility and multilateral efforts through the WHO and other institutions are essential in the collective fight against COVID‑19. However, such initiatives require more support as the current experience demonstrates that they have not yet served to deliver the anticipated equitable access to vaccines.

Economic recovery and inclusive growth

The ministers affirmed the importance of rebuilding inclusive economies and promoting progressive and inclusive trade between Canada and CARICOM, with a focus on sustainability, including green infrastructure, clean technology and energy. The ministers agreed that SIDS need better access to the international financing system to seize the opportunity to build back better and to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. Discussions addressed access to concessional financing; debt relief; the concept of a Vulnerability Index, including its objectives and applicability; supply-chain resiliency; tourism; capacity building and support for the digitalization of government services, including health and education, and food nutrition security.

Climate resilience

The ministers underscored the need to take meaningful action to fight climate change and reiterated the importance of collective action to support a better, cleaner, greener and bluer world, in line with the Paris Agreement commitments and the Sustainable Development Goals. The ministers reaffirmed their commitment to strengthening Caribbean climate and economic resilience through efforts ranging from emergency response and preparedness to climate-smart agriculture and adaptation and the blue economy. The ministers also recognized that effective climate action must include the empowerment of women, who are on the front lines of climate change.

Participants

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