Premier Elected Vice Chair
Premier McKeeva Bush was elected Vice Chair of the Caribbean Overseas Countries and Territories Council on Thursday. High level political representatives of ten Caribbean Overseas Countries and Territories convened for the first time in Curacao where they agreed to establish a regional Overseas Countries and Territories Council.
Chief of Staff Leonard Dilbert said the Premier and his delegation were very warmly received, treated with the highest respect and offered enthusiastic support from other delegates and their hosts, the Prime Minister and Government of Curacao. In addition to Premier Bush and Mr. Dilbert, the Cayman Islands' representatives were Jamaal Anderson, Technical Assistant European Union Projects in the Cabinet Office and Attorney Steve McField.
Premier Bush said that, "The formation of this Council is an important step for regional territories, as it is essential for our small territories to coordinate and cooperate if we are to make real progress in our relationship with the European Union, and other supra-national organisations. I appreciate the confidence shown in me by my counterparts, and I look forward to the vigorous development of this Council."
The aim of the Council is to work on a joint agenda for sustainable development and a roadmap to establish a Caribbean Agenda with respect to the new Agreement of the Overseas Countries and Territories that is currently being prepared by the EU and that should come into effect January 1st 2014. The Council wishes to enhance their relationship with the European Union and ensure that the needs and interests of the Caribbean OCT are incorporated.
The Council provides a formal institution to work together among all Caribbean Overseas Countries and Territories on areas of common interest. Through this council, knowledge and experiences will be shared and joint initiatives will be taken to ensure project funding from the EU on topics that are of joint interest. The Council was established through the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding on Thursday in Curacao.
During the discussions all participants embraced the concept of sustainable development as their starting point. Specific areas for cooperation were identified, such as:
- cooperation within different constitutional frameworks
- transportation and logistics
- capacity building and sharing / human capital development
- waste management
- climate change
- renewable energy
- disaster management
- strategic development within a sustainable / framework within small countries/territories
- relationship with EU: budget versus project support
- sustainable leadership in the Caribbean
- development of Public-Private-Partnerships.
On each topic specific working groups have been initiated and will present a Working Plan by September 1st. The Cayman Islands will be represented on a number of the working groups of the Council, and leading on at least two. The Caribbean OCT Council will meet again on September 23, prior to the next EU-OCT Forum.