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Statement by Ambassador Henry Mac Donald on behalf of the member states of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) on agenda item 23 regarding the Eradication of Poverty and other Development Issues.
19 October 2011 / 01:13

Mr. Chairman,
 
1.             I have the honor to deliver this statement on behalf of the member states of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) on agenda item 23 regarding the Eradication of Poverty and other Development Issues.
 
2.             I would like to use this opportunity to congratulate you and the members of the Bureau on your election. We thank the Secretary General for the comprehensive report on this agenda item.
 
3.             I also wish to state at the outset that CARICOM aligns itself with the statement made by the delegation of Argentina on behalf of the Group of 77 and China.
 
Mr. Chairperson,
 
4.             The Secretary General’s report states that the challenges to reducing poverty in all its dimension have intensified owing to the impacts of the economic and food crisis. It states further that the prolonged jobs and social crisis makes successful implementation of the plan of action of the “Second UN Decade for the Eradication of Poverty” more meaningful but also more challenging. It is our concern that the prolonged crises hampers the achievements of the MDGs by the target date. Hopes that were high when world Leaders reaffirmed their commitments and agreed to accelerated actions during last year’s General Assembly “High-level Plenary Meeting on the Millennium Development Goals” are now fading away.
 
5.             Eradication of poverty and hunger thus remains among the greatest challenges of our time and seemingly unattainable goals. In this regard the report on the activities to implement the decision made in 2002 to establish the World Solidarity Fund, serves as a sad example of the disappointing political will of the international community in regard to eradication of poverty and hunger. 
 
Mr. Chairman,
 
6.             Sustained, inclusive and equitable economic growth that leads to the creation of employment is a necessary condition for poverty reduction. However the reality is contrary:
7.              
a.       The economic crisis has led to sharp falls in employment. The recession has subjected workers in the informal sector to even lower earnings owing to a decrease in demand and increased competition for informal jobs. As a result progress in reducing working poverty has slowed.
b.      The number of working poor has increased in some regions, including Latin American and the Caribbean.
c.       The surge in the number of discouraged workers, particularly among youth, who are also disproportionately affected by unemployment and overrepresented in the informal sector and among the working poor.
d.      Surging food prices and global food insecurity are sparking concerns again over increased poverty and hunger. Poverty tends to increase when food prices rise, since poor people spend large shares of their income on food.
 
      
Mr. Chairperson,
 
8.             CARICOM believes that agriculture is the main source of livelihood for poor people and that agricultural productivity and rural development are vital for poverty eradication. In this regard we bring to the attention the establishment of the Caribbean Agricultural Health and Food Safety Agency (CAHFSA) by the CARICOM Heads of Government to facilitate agricultural trade in the region.
 
9.             In October 2010 the CARICOM Council on Trade and Economic Development (COTED) endorsed the Regional Policy for Food and Nutrition Security. This innovative policy was designed through a process, looking at practical issues and problems of member states.
 
10.         The policy is grounded in the commitments made by CARICOM members states in adhering to the “Right to Food Convention” as well as those made at the World Food Summit in 2009, especially principle 3: Strive for a comprehensive twin-track approach to food security that consists of 1) direct action to immediately tackle hunger for the most vulnerable, 2) medium and long-term sustainable agriculture, food security, nutrition and rural development programmes to eliminate the root causes of hunger and poverty, including through the progressive realization of the right to adequate food.
 
11.         Renewed emphasis is being placed on agriculture not only to counter food prices but also to ensure the Region’s population eats what they produce, to secure nutrition that is safe and reverse the high incidence of Chronic Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) now prevalent in the Region.
 
12.         COTED acknowledged further that regional food security is not the exclusive remit of the agriculture sector and that resolution of particular problems requires complementary inputs and coordination among different sectors such as agriculture, education, health, trade, industry, and infrastructure and at different levels, including household, community, national and international.
 
Mr Chairman,
 
13.         CARICOM reiterate its view that the greatest asset in the hands of the poor against poverty is their ability to work. In this regard we express our concern that the economic crisis and its impacts are jeopardizing the capacity of our member states to take primary responsibility for their own development because of diminishing resources at the disposal of governments and private sectors to invest in the provision of productive employment.
 
14.         We are further concerned that the crisis limits our resources available for investments in health, education and skills training, which are among the critical factors to empower those living in poverty and which are crucial for making people employable, allowing them to gain access to decent work, escape poverty and promoting social inclusion and greater equity in society.
 
15.         All CARICOM member states, but Haiti, are classified as middle income countries on the basis of certain limited and arbitrary macroeconomic criteria such as per capita income. We are of the opinion that the criteria should be revisited and that vulnerability should be included, since hard earned gains can easily be wiped out in our disaster prone areas due to natural disasters such as hurricanes. In this regard we call on the international community to materialize its pledges made to Haiti after last year’s catastrophic earthquake, and to assist them to accelerate the realization of the reconstruction. 
 
Mr. Chairperson,
 
16.         Increased attention must be given to improving social integration of disadvantaged segments of society including women, indigenous and tribal peoples, youth, people with disabilities and individuals working in the informal economy in low-paying, unproductive and often hazardous occupations.
 
17.         We are of the view that legal empowerment of the poor should be a development strategy as well as a development objective. It should focus on removing unnecessary barriers to formal markets and institutions, increasing opportunities for business linkages and market access, pro-poor property rights systems, ensuring equitable and sustainable access to land and other natural resources as well as taking into account the imperatives of food security and sustainable livelihood.
 
In closing Mr. Chairman,
 
18.         CARICOM reiterates its view that poverty eradication should be the cardinal development objective of the United Nations, thus making it the highest priority within the UN development agenda, while stressing the importance of addressing the root causes and challenges of poverty through integrated, coordinated and coherent strategies at the national, regional and international levels.
 
19.      The achievement of the internationally agreed development goals including the MDGs should continue to be the over-arching framework of the development activities of the UN system. We emphasize the need for a strengthened global partnership for development, based on the national priorities and ownership of development strategies of developing countries.
 
20.         In this regard we note with concern, that Official Development Assistance in 2010 remains disappointingly below 0.7 per cent of Gross National Product of developed countries. CARICOM applauds those developed countries that increased their contribution and those that have reached this target and urges other to follow suit.
 
21.         We further urge donor countries, multilateral organizations and other development partners to intensify assistance to developing countries to implement the Global Jobs Pact and the Social Protection Floor, launched in 2009 by the Chief Executives Board for Coordination as a crisis response initiative towards employment and decent work.
 
22.         We look forward to the Rio+20 Conference, in particular its further commitments to the social pillar of sustainable development.  
 
I thank you, for your kind attention.