I am pleased to join you for this closing session of this Seventh UN-CARICOM meeting. I understand you have had two days of very productive discussions.
This is a milestone year for CARICOM. It is your 40th anniversary. You represent proud nations with distinct identities. But you are also a group of nations with a strong sense of loyalty and solidarity with each other.
This year we look forward to welcoming Ambassador John W. Ashe of Antigua and Barbuda, as President of its sixty-eighth session of the General Assembly.
I served as the sixtieth President of the General Assembly and I know that this is a demanding but rewarding experience. I know that Ambassador Ashe will carry out his duties with skill and distinction. I and my colleagues look forward to working closely with him and his team in the year ahead.
Ambassador Ashe will serve all Member States but also bring an important perspective of the distinct challenges facing the Caribbean region. I believe strongly that the UN and CARICOM must continue to work together in innovative and determined ways to address these issues.
That was the spirit of my meeting in January with representatives of the CARICOM Bureau, Secretary-General LaRocque and Ambassador Granderson while attending the CELAC-EU Summit in Chile.
We discussed a number of important issues, including the Post-2015 Development Agenda, Small Island Developing States and climate change.
I know that you have taken up these and other issues during your discussions here in New York and we reviewed them yesterday during a meeting with Secretary-General LaRocque.
Equitable development is at the top of the agenda.
We have two tasks before us: accelerating progress on the Millennium Development Goals and laying the groundwork for the Post-2015 Development Agenda. We need a plan of action that builds on the MDGs, while addressing gaps and emerging new challenges.
Credibility of this process depends on how strongly we can make improvements in some critical areas, such as inequality. Today there are more poor people living in Middle Income Countries than in developing ones, and we need to focus our attention on this challenge.
We are working for a unified set of concise, clear and measurable goals that keep poverty reduction at the core while addressing broader sustainable development challenges.
I am confident that the Caribbean region will make a vital contribution to the debate and the ongoing processes. The September high-level event of the General Assembly on the MDGs will be an important opportunity to set the direction for our work ahead.
Next year’s Small Island Developing States (SIDS) Global Conference in Samoa will also be a key moment to identify priorities for the sustainable development of SIDS in the post-2015 development agenda as well as to advance the global climate agenda.
We look forward to the continued leadership and inspiration from CARICOM Member States on these crucial issues as well as on other challenges, including disaster risk reduction, organized crime and the illicit drugs trade.
The Caribbean Community is a key partner in achieving our common goals of development, peace and security and human rights. I salute your strong commitment to regional integration and cooperation, and to multilateralism. You represent a group of nations who have come to the important realization that international approaches and solutions, indeed, are in the national interests.
All branches of the United Nations system look forward to working with you to formulate strategic and effective approaches for realizing your region’s aspirations for prosperity and stability. The success of these aspirations are not only vital for your own peoples but also for the global community.
Please accept my profound appreciation for your work. I wish you all a safe journey home with new energy to deal with our many common challenges.