Minister of State in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and International Business, Donville Inniss
Top-level diplomats and scientists, including Minister of State in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and International Business, Donville Inniss, have met with the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon seeking international support for the Association of Caribbean States’ (ACS) bid to recognize the Caribbean Sea as a Special Area for sustainable development.
The Minister was accompanied by (ACS) Secretary General, Andrade Falla; Ambassador of Barbados to CARICOM, Denis Kellman, and eminent scientists from the University of the West Indies, Professors John Agard and Robin Mahon.
In addition to meeting with the Secretary General and President of the UN General Assembly, Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann, the delegation also addressed the 33 member Group of Latin American and Caribbean States and the more than 130-member Group of 77 and China. The delegation also held a series of bilateral meetings with Ambassadors representing France (in its capacity as President of the European Union), the United States of America, Canada, China, India, Brazil, Venezuela, Colombia, Chile, Turkey, Australia, Italy, Ireland, Portugal and Switzerland.
In making the case for recognition of the Caribbean Sea as a Special Area, Minister Inniss highlighted that science confirms that the complex and unique ecosystem of the Caribbean Sea can no longer sustain the immense demands placed upon it without a realistic and integrated management approach and therefore requires new ways for all users of its services to work together.
He referenced recent scientific findings including the 4th Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment and the Global Environmental Outlook 4. All confirm that the combination of dependence on the marine ecosystem and its vulnerability to global forces beyond its control such as climate change, places the Caribbean in a special situation which merits recognition and concrete action by the international community.
Minister Inniss pointed to the fact that in the Caribbean more than 2.4 million persons are employed in the tourism industry and more than 25 million tourists visit the region on an annual basis. He added that 50% of all cruise passengers use the Caribbean Sea and on some islands tourism accounts for over 90% of their gross domestic product. In addition, the fisheries sector is also a major provider of jobs and income in the Caribbean, especially in poor communities.
The Secretary-General and President both pledged their support to the initiative and promised to work with the ACS and the ACS Missions in New York to ensure that the objectives of the initiative are realised. The Secretary-General also promised to ensure that relevant UN system entities would be mandated to provide whatever support was needed by the ACS to further its work. The President of the General Assembly also committed to convening an event in early 2009 to highlight the particular vulnerabilities of the Caribbean region.