Utilising resources of Caribbean Sea can unify ACS
-- Rohee

Stabroek News
June 26, 1999

Foreign Minister Clement Rohee is of the view that the utilisation of the resources of the Caribbean Sea could act as a unifying force for members of the Association of Caribbean States (ACS) and simultaneously contribute to the economic and social well-being of the sister countries.

Addressing delegates at the Third Joint Meeting of the ACS Special Committees for the Protection and Conservation of the Environment and on Natural Resources on Thursday, Rohee said Guyana places priority on regional integration as an essential element of the response to globalisation.

"Guyana, as a member of CARICOM and a founder member of the ACS... is promulgating the idea of a Regional Integration Fund within the Free Trade Area of the Americas to enable small economies to participate adequately in the liberalisation and globalisation process," Rohee stated.

In seeking to advance the socio-economic situation in member countries, Guyana supports the efforts to have the Caribbean Sea internationally recognised as a special area in the context of sustainable development, Rohee said.

He recalled that it was over five years ago that the Global Conference on Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States was convened in Barbados. Inadequate resources severely affected the implementation of the Barbados Plan of Action which focused on issues affecting the small economies within the grouping, the minister stated.

"It is my hope that after the review later this year, the international community will make good its commitment to support the implementation efforts of small islands and low-lying coastal states which form a significant part of this grouping," Rohee declared.

Chairman of yesterday's opening session, Presidential Adviser on Science, Technology and the Environment, Navin Chandarpal, said the joint meeting will address how the resources of the Caribbean Sea could be used for the benefit of the ACS member countries.

He also noted that on the agenda is the consideration of the Caribbean Environmental Strategy and its co-ordination mechanism.

Chandarpal deemed the subject an important one since it involves the protection of the Caribbean Sea and its marine and coastal resources.

The work at the meeting is important to the developmental plans of the member states which could help them achieve the common goals of the people of the Caribbean, he stated.

ACS Director, Mario Estrada Cuevas, who is responsible for environment at the Secretariat, told reporters that one of the main subjects to be discussed at the meeting is the development of tourism through the implementation of the Caribbean Tourism Zone.

Another key subject is the implementation mechanism of the Caribbean Environmental Strategy, he said.

Cuevas noted that the ACS Heads of States have already signed the Declaration for a Caribbean Sustainable Tourism Zone at the Second Summit held in the Dominican Republic recently. A Memorandum of Understanding for the implementation of the strategies supporting the declaration was also signed, he said.

He disclosed that the Special Committee on Tourism met in Margarita Island last week to work out what steps will be taken next to implement the strategies outlined.

Some areas being looked at include the conservation of beaches and the preservation of the social aspect of the tourism industry. The latter aspect will be looking at areas such as the health of the tourists, the prevalence of prostitution in certain ports and the issue of contamination.

The Dominican Republic's Vice-Minister of Natural Resources, Jose Miguel Martinez Duridy, chairman of the special committees, welcomed the delegates at the opening session.

The joint meeting which ended yesterday was preceded by a meeting of senior experts from June 22-23. This meeting focused on the CARICOM proposal for the international recognition of the Caribbean Sea as a special area for sustainable development.

Present for the opening session of the joint meeting held at Ocean View International Hotel Convention Centre, were members of the diplomatic corps, Amerindian Affairs Minister, Vibert DeSouza and other government officials.

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