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World Environment Day 2024: Land Restoration, Desertification and Drought Resilience

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Castries, Saint Lucia. June 4th, 2024. Caribbean small island developing states face a unique vulnerability to the effects of climate change, namely high temperatures, droughts, rising sea levels, flooding and more intense and frequent storms. These effects cause detrimental challenges for crucial industries, infrastructure, the region’s ecosystems and unique biodiversity and communities. Highly dependent industries such as tourism and agriculture are already seeing worrying trends associated with climate change such as food insecurity and loss or deterioration of ecosystems and natural attractions[1]. Coupled with the impact of climate change, non-climatic or human activities further propel the prevalence of land degradation, water stress and threaten sustainable land management efforts.

Despite the ecological, economic, social and health benefits of forested areas, global deforestation continues at an alarming rate. Land degradation and desertification, caused by a depletion in the soil quality and land utility, negatively impact food production and livelihoods. These events are compounded by prolonged instances of deforestation, poor agricultural practices and pollution due to poor solid waste disposal; adversely impacting human and environmental health. In developing countries, droughts are the single most common cause of severe food shortages[2], crippling food production and security in the Region.   As droughts or extreme heat are becoming more prevalent in the Caribbean, low water availability especially in rural or remote areas exacerbate existing water stresses, resulting in severe socio-economic and public health implications.

On World Environment Day, the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) joins the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and other partners’ call for global action on land restoration, halting desertification and building drought resilience. CARPHA aims to promote sustainable solutions to address the Region’s environmental challenges and needs through the development of tailored initiatives and interventions.

The Global Environmental Fund Integrating Water, Land and Ecosystem Management in Caribbean Small Island Developing States (GEF-IWEco) Project, co-implemented by CARPHA and the UNEP Caribbean Environment Programme in collaboration with the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Commission, seeks to build upon and guide the sustainable management of local environments and the preservation of valuable ecosystems.  The participating countries are Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Jamaica, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Trinidad and Tobago.

Sustainable land management interventions are one of the key project outcomes; in efforts to safeguard the interconnected nature of the Region’s ecosystems. In Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, the IWEco national project focused on reforestation and forest management, and soil and streambank stabilization in the Georgetown watershed, aiming to improve cross-sectoral cooperation in eco-tourism and integrated landscape management in the watershed.   Similarly in Trinidad, the project focused on the reduction and reversal of land degradation associated with quarry operations at selected sites in the north-east area. Thereby, restoring natural vegetation, reducing sedimentation and flood risk and reinstating ecological function at select project demonstration sites.

The implementation of resilient strategies to assist in combating drought is particularly vital to CARPHA Member States, to mitigate potential economic, environmental, and social threats. The water and sewerage authorities may be burdened with additional cost of trucking water, purchasing new equipment and supplies, developing/improving infrastructure and executing water rationing schemes.

Access to safe water is critical to reduce the incidence of illness associated with exposure to pathogens, toxins or other contaminants.  In addition to water quality, loss of life and property due to bush fires and poor air quality are of key health concerns.

Water safety planning, a proactive approach in analysing and managing risks to ensure potable water from catchment to consumer, is an essential tool for all Caribbean States. In recent years, CARPHA has strengthened water system safety and resilience in Members States through the development of climate-resilient water safety plans. Through the Pilot Program for Climate Resilience Project, CARPHA supported the implementation of rainwater harvesting (RWH) and advanced strategies to implement RWH policies and incentives in three Member States as one of the mechanisms to increase resilience to drought.

World Environment Day observed annually on June 5th, calls for the protection and revival of ecosystems worldwide for current and future generations.

The theme for 2024 “Land restoration, desertification, and drought resilience,” brings awareness to the ongoing balance among human activity, economic development and nature in the preservation of biodiversity and ecosystem sustainability.

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Bahamas News

Minister Moxey says AAM2024 is significant to the country

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NASSAU, The Bahamas – Making an address on the first day of Afreximbank’s Annual Meetings (AAM) and AfriCaribbean Trade and Investment Forum 2024 on Wednesday, June 12, Minister for Grand Bahama, the Hon. Ginger Moxey pointed out the significance of the meetings in The Bahamas, and the impact on Grand Bahama.

It is the first time AAM is held in the Caribbean region.  The 31st AAM sessions run June 12 – 14, 2024 at Baha Mar Resort, Cable Beach.  The theme for the event is: “Owning Our Destiny: Economic Prosperity on the Platform of Global Africa.”

She said, “Ladies and gentlemen, this AAM and AfriCaribbean Trade and Investment Forum is critical for nurturing the relationship we have intentionally progressed over the last few years, including the historic signing between Afreximbank and CARICOM, unlocking an astounding $1.5 billion in funding; the many trade missions between both regions; and tomorrow the signing of a Project Preparation Facility with Afreximbank and the Government of The Bahamas on the development of an Afro-Caribbean Marketplace and Logistics Center on Grand Bahama Island – my island — a magnificent center for the promotion of tourism, commerce and trade between both regions.

“As we contemplate the historical ties that bind us, may we recognize the significant role of trade and the immense opportunities that lie before us.

“Trade has always been the lifeblood of economies, and as we join hands to explore new avenues, great things will happen.”

Minister Moxey continued, “The Bahamas, with its strategic location and well-established infrastructure, stands as a gateway…and it is at the crossroads of two-way trade.

“Our beautiful country has emerged as a major transshipment terminal, facilitating the seamless flow of goods and creating linkages across continents.”

The Caribbean region is focused on trade and investment opportunities with Africa, and the meeting in Nassau demonstrates the importance of the matter, she said.

In closing, she said, “The Afro-Caribbean Marketplace and Logistics Center will not only boost economic growth but also strengthen the bonds of friendship and cultural understanding between both regions.”

 

PHOTO CAPTION

1st insert –  At the Welcome Reception for Afreximbank’s 31st Annual Meetings (AAM 2024) at Baha Mar Resort, Wednesday, Minister for Grand Bahama the Hon. Ginger Moxey, at podium, gives an address on the importance of the meetings.

2nd insert – In photos, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Tourism, Investments and Aviation the Hon. Chester Cooper chats with Prime Minister of Barbados, the Hon. Mia Mottley.

(BIS Photos/Kemuel Stubbs and Eric Rose)

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Caribbean News

Caribbean Central Bank Governors agree to NEW Trade Regime for ease of doing business

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Garfield Ekon

Staff Writer

 

 

#TurksandCaicos, June 18, 2024 – Regional Central Bank Governors have agreed to implement a system that allows countries in the Caribbean to trade using each other’s currencies without a third-party currency.

Making the disclosure, Governor of the Barbados Central Bank, Kevin Greenidge who is also the Chairman of the CARICOM Central Bank Governors, said it will be a version of the Pan-African Payment and Settlement System (PAPSS) which was launched by the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) in January 2022 to reduce reliance on hard currencies like the US dollar for transactions between African nations.

Once it is replicated in the Caribbean, the system could allow goods and services to be paid for directly in the currencies of the respective CARICOM nations involved, rather than being settled in a third currency like the US dollar, arguing thatg the payment system would reduce transaction costs, minimise the need for holding substantial foreign currency reserves, facilitate smoother intra-regional trade and lead to lower retail prices for consumers.

Noting that the decision was unanimous, Mr. Greenidge said “we just had a meeting in May, and we agreed to push ahead with the pilot programme and we have a technical team working out some of the kinks, how to move ahead with the programme. We are approaching that as soon as possible,” he said while addressing the recent AfriCaribbean Trade and Investment Forum (ACTIF2024), at the Baha Mar Convention Centre in Nassau, Bahamas.

The Central banker who once served as the senior economist who supervised Barbados’ economic restructuring programme for the International Monetary Fund, before taking up the Governor’s job in March 2023, argued that “If we get with one voice and start to speak to these things, call for reforming the way the rating agencies view and assess our position, including debt, we will then make a difference,” he told his audience.

Adding further, he said the region can get where it wants on its own, as he urged both regions to speak with one voice on reforming global financial architecture, while accusing credit rating agencies of bias against small economies.

Speaking with one voice in the Caribbean, in support like the Bridgetown Initiative, Mr. Greenidge believes “we can make a difference.” The Bridgetown Initiative calls for reform of multilateral development banks and international financial institutions to better support climate-vulnerable countries.

“The more we can achieve partnerships around the world, the better we are regarding financing and investment in Barbados and providing the necessary diverse products to do the financing we need. Naturally, the African continent would be a partnership,” he said

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Caribbean News

Jamaica Ripe for Business

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#Kingston, Jamaica, June 18, 2024 – Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Senator the Hon. Aubyn Hill, says Jamaica is one of the most attractive investment destinations in the Caribbean and is urging more diaspora members to do business in the country.

Senator Hill was addressing a panel discussion on Monday (June 17) on the topic ‘Jamaica Open for Business: Transforming Investment and Enterprise in Jamaica through Diaspora Engagement’ at the 10th Biennial Jamaica Diaspora Conference, held at the Montego Bay Convention Centre in St. James.

He cited the stability of the local currency as a key reason to invest in the island.

“There is no foreign exchange control in Jamaica. Clean money comes in and clean money goes out,” he noted.

The fact that the Government has been able to undertake infrastructure development and deliver critical services, particularly during the pandemic, without raising taxes, speaks to the strength of the economy, he said.

“We’ve gone through a pandemic where we had to spend $100 billion of Jamaican money that we didn’t plan to spend and yet we didn’t borrow any new money and we didn’t raise taxes. In fact, for the last eight years…what we have done with taxes is cut them. We cut the payroll tax twice and cut VAT (value-added tax) once,” Senator Hill said.

He added that the infrastructure buildout, real estate potential and Jamaica’s position as the logistics hub of the Caribbean also makes the country attractive to investors.

“This is where your money should be. Come to Jamaica,” Senator Hill appealed.

For Chief Executive Officer of GraceKennedy Financial Group, Grace Burnett, the highly productive and English-speaking talent pool is a major reason Jamaica is open for business.

“Our literacy rate is well over 92 per cent and we have a very stable democracy. When you look at some of the endorsements we have received from overseas institutions on ease of doing business and how we are performing as an economy, we have a very stable, strong regulatory framework and very supportive environment for starting a business and growing a business,” she explained.

Managing Director of JN Fund Managers at JN Group, Brando Hayden, explained that the risk management and infrastructure necessary to give investors comfort is strongly in place.

“When you come to Jamaica, not only are we open for business, your investment or your participation is backed up by solid infrastructure. We have the Jamaica Central Securities Depository and when you invest through the stock market, whether it is a bond, a stock and they also do private equity and private debt, you know there is solid record for your investment. From the depository, you know exactly how much you have and you get your dividend payments,” Mr. Hayden said.

Meanwhile, Chief Executive Officer of VM Finance Limited and VM Overseas Offices at the VM Group, Leighton Smith, underscored that Jamaica’s economic stability, strategic location, strength of the financial sector, skilled workforce and diverse investment opportunities are factors that make Jamaica attractive to investors.

“What makes Jamaica the perfect landscape is when we think of the trade policies that exist… in terms of being the strategic location, which affords the opportunity to gain access to markets – CARICOM and the United States,” Mr. Smith said.

 

Contact: Judana Murphy

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