UN Secretary-General's opening remarks at the 36th Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean CommunityJul 2, 2015
It is a great pleasure to be with you in beautiful Bridgetown. I was proud to be the first United Nations Secretary-General to attend a CARICOM Summit. I am now most honoured to attend a second.
I thank the Caribbean Community for your invitation – and the government and people of Barbados for your hospitality.
Thank you for your “Bajan” welcome!
We are living in a world of great uncertainty and growing inequality.
Here in this region, I know young people are worried about jobs.
Families are worried about security and safety in their communities.
People are worried about the future.
In times like this, we need to be reminded of our basic values.
I strongly believe one of the fundamental values of the United Nations is to safeguard the interests of the smallest and most vulnerable.
We must always act for the shared interests of all humankind and leave no one behind.
That commitment must animate all we do – particularly in this crucial year of action in 2015 – a year that will shape development in your region and our world for years to come.
That action begins in less than two weeks in Addis Ababa, when leaders will meet to agree on a framework for financing sustainable development.
It is encouraging that the concerns of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) have been reflected in the discussions, including in critical areas such as debt, trade, technology and Official Development Assistance.
In September in New York, world leaders will agree on a new set of Sustainable Development Goals to guide development policy for the next 15 years.
I thank CARICOM leaders for actively contributing to this debate – and for emphasizing the special circumstances and unique vulnerabilities of SIDS.
In December in Paris, governments have pledged to adopt a new, meaningful, universal climate change agreement.
Even though you in the Caribbean region are among the smallest contributors to climate change, you are among the strongest leaders in the responding to the challenge.
Your moral authority on this vital issue carries enormous weight in the international arena. And your leadership on renewable energy and catastrophe risk insurance provides a powerful example for others to follow.
Access to finance is critical – and I have worked hard to capitalize and operationalize the Green Climate Fund. I will continue to work with the G7leadership and the COP Presidencies of France and Peru to ensure priority is placed on the needs of SIDS and least developed countries.
The Caribbean is home to ideas, examples and solutions. Your views and experiences shape global policy.
We have seen it time and again.
You put the challenge of non-communicable diseases on the global agenda.
You have made enormous progress in the battle against HIV/AIDS -- including Mother-to-Child Transmission.
You have many successes in achieving the Millennium Development Goals.
You have also been an important moral voice. I thank you for your leadership in honouring the victims of slavery and the transatlantic slave trade. I was proud to join in the inauguration of the Permanent Memorial at UN Headquarters earlier this year.
The region is home to Ambassador John Ashe who served so ably as President of the General Assembly last year. And, of course, Barbados hosted the first International Conference on Small Island Developing States two decades ago.
Now as we look ahead, I ask three things from you.
First, I am very pleased to see you today. But I want this to become a habit. I hope to see you at least three more times this year.
Come to Addis Ababa for the Financing for Development Conference.
Come to New York as we finalize the post-2015 Development Agenda.
Come to the Paris Climate Conference.
We need your full engagement at the highest political level. Take ownership of these processes. Tell your negotiators to keep ambition high. These efforts will succeed or fall short on our watch; help us mark a turning point towards transformation.
Second, let us boost our work together on region-specific challenges. The implementation of the Samoa Pathway has become central in UN planning and investment. We stand ready to support your efforts to strengthen your Crime and Security Strategy. Since you are also on the frontlines of the humanitarian consequences of our changing world, I urge your perspectives and full support for the process leading to the first-ever World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul in May next year.
Let me also add that within the past year, I have had the privilege of visiting both Haiti and the Dominican Republic. I am pleased that Haiti is now preparing for general elections. I also share concerns about citizenship issues on the island of Hispaniola. I have discussed this with the President of the Dominican Republic and trust there will be further progress in resolving this matter, protecting the rights of affected persons, and preventing the deprivation of nationality. This is a matter of human rights and human dignity.
Third, and finally, I ask you to continue to be voices for vulnerable – not just in this region but for the globe. I may not receive top marks in a geography course for saying this, but in today’s interdependent world, no country is an island. We need partnership and solidarity to achieve our goals in this big year for humanity.
I take great inspiration from your region’s spirit of working together. When it comes to global challenges, you have shown in many ways how it pays to play on the same team.
Looking forward, let us take inspiration from some of the West Indies greatest examples of that philosophy – people like Brian Lara, Sir Frank Worrell and Sir Garfield Sobers.
Let us take the big agenda before us and hit it for six!