PRIME Minister of Saint Lucia Allen Chastanet picked up the torch of the OECS Chairmanship in June of 2017 with an energetic and passionate approach toward the strengthening of functional cooperation among Member States in the face of regional and global economic challenges.
Among the areas of focus, under Prime Minister Chastanet’s chairmanship, were: Vulnerability and resilience to climate change; Disaster management and response; International advocacy and cooperation; Exploring a blue economy and Improved healthcare.
Tackling Climate Change: Vulnerability and Resilience
During his tenure, Prime Minister Chastanet highlighted the inherent vulnerabilities of small island developing states (SIDS) within the Caribbean basin and outlined the urgent need for adequate dedicated and accessible financial, technical and capacity building assistance to enable SIDS to adapt to the adverse effects of climate change, to cope with loss and damage and to transition to resilient, low-carbon economies.
Chairman Chastanet met with the Head of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) to bolster Official Development Assistance (ODA) to the region; joined industry leaders in the launch of the Caribbean Climate-Smart Coalition which seeks to mobilise a US $8 billion investment plan to bring greater energy and infrastructure resilience to over three million Caribbean households; and endorsed a Climate Change Implementation Plan funded by the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office.
Disaster Management and Rapid Response
In the immediate aftermath of Hurricanes Irma and Maria, Prime Minister Chastanet played a crucial role in the rapid response actions coordinated by the OECS Commission, Member States of the OECS, the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) and the National Emergency Management Organisation of Saint Lucia (NEMO). The Embassies of Venezuela, Morocco and France, based in Saint Lucia, were also mobilised.
The Chairman, accompanied by the OECS Director General Dr. Didacus Jules, led delegations to the British Virgin Islands, Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, and Dominica to assess first-hand the extent of the damage wreaked by the hurricanes and to provide support and emergency supplies.
International Advocacy: Taking the discussion to the world stage
Chairman Chastanet joined OECS Heads of Government whose countries were ravaged by the passage of two Category five storms in a plea to the international community to heed the warning signs of climate change. As Chairman of the OECS, Prime Minister Chastanet travelled to the United States to address the United Nations General Assembly in September of 2017 and to Germany to address the Joint High Level Segment at the Conference of Parties (COP23) in November of 2017.
Exploring Blue Economy opportunities
The recently launched US$6.3M Caribbean Regional Oceanscape Project (CROP), funded by the World Bank, seeks to support the preservation of coastal and marine resources, and implement regional policies to stimulate blue growth in five Eastern Caribbean countries, namely Dominica, Grenada, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.
The OECS Commission has also partnered with Virtual Educa on Think Blue – a first of its kind digital platform dedicated to enhance access to educational content concerning the oceans and share ocean knowledge with citizens.
Healthcare: Towards the Elimination of HIV and Tuberculosis
The OECS Commission has partnered with the Pan American Health Organization and the Global Fund to implement a US $5 million programme aimed at the elimination of tuberculosis and HIV in the Eastern Caribbean. The programme will be developed in six participating OECS Member States: Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Saint Lucia, Antigua, Dominica, St. Kitts and Nevis and Grenada with outcomes and lessons learnt being applied to other Member States.
Prime Minister Chastanet hands over the Chairmanship to Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, who will serve for one year. (OECS)