Posted: Saturday, March 20, 2021. 5:04 pm CST.
By Aaron Humes: The tenth biennial meeting of the United Kingdom-Caribbean Forum was held virtually on Thursday, March 18, during which the countries agreed on a two-year Action Plan for British assistance to many of its former dependencies in the region.
In the area of COVID-19, the UK will maintain its significant financial commitment of £548m to the COVAX facility, and it will lobby internationally for Caribbean countries to benefit from vaccination roll-out, including through the COVAX facility as part of its approach to equitable access, and additionally as a means to restart tourism to the region. The UK will remain committed to facilitating further access to, and the timely, fair and equitable distribution of, vaccines, including through COVAX.
To facilitate economic recovery, the United Kingdom will lobby through its representation on the various boards of multilateral and regional development banks to ensure they can offer appropriate concessional and other “soft” loan packages to help expand vaccine coverage. It will otherwise work with Caribbean countries on key economic and social issues, from gender and other inequalities to longer-term challenges around debt and access to finance, recognizing the unique vulnerabilities that the Caribbean Small Island Developing States face.
The Caribbean region, meanwhile, promises to coordinate a successful rollout of vaccines by prioritizing the most vulnerable citizens and employ effective public communications campaigns to encourage vaccine acceptance. The two sides will work on supporting pandemic preparedness in the region, to help in ensuring that it is better prepared to respond to a future pandemic or other global health emergencies.
The Action Plan on COVID-19 and other issues is the practical support for the communique issued at the end of meetings such as this one and sets out the enhanced commitments of both the UK and Caribbean Forum countries for a renewed and strengthened partnership.
Generally, Ministers of the United Kingdom and Caribbean Governments agreed that: it is important to act together for mutual benefit and the global common good, based on their many shared values, at a time of unparalleled challenges, particularly around the COVID-19 global pandemic and climate change, and that the Action Plan will be regularly reviewed at quarterly meetings between Caribbean High Commissioners based in London and the Minister for the Caribbean at the Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office (FCDO). Together, they will agree to joint action in cases where specific objectives are at risk of not being met.
There will also be a full audit of achievements against the Action Plan goals after the first year and immediately prior to the next Forum in 2023.
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