Foreign Affairs Minister and Chair of the Caribbean Forum (CARIFORUM) has told a high-level meeting in Bridgetown Barbados, that the crisis caused by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has laid bare the hard reality of digital inequalities in the region.
Greene attended the just concluded European Union-CARIFORUM Ministerial Meeting, saying that the Caribbean region is considered as one of the most affected in the world by the COVID-19 pandemic which has sparked an economic crisis across the states.
“Some of the consequences will be long-term and will be challenging. The crisis laid bare the hard reality of digital inequalities in the region, within our various societies and between men and women,” Greene said, noting that deficiency in the Information Communication and technology (ICT) infrastructure has resulted in our digital development being relatively modest, lagging behind other regions. CARIFORUM, therefore, welcomes the EU’S commitment to address key priorities for digital transformation and innovation,” he said,
He also touched on the topic of Greene’s food security, saying that while a matter of global concern, is also a situation of concern to Caribbean countries given that they are among the most vulnerable to this global crisis.
“The spike in food prices will continue to push the levels of food and nutrition insecurity to new heights. The EU’s actions to address this global food security crisis by supporting the most vulnerable and most affected countries is commendable.”
Greene said that a recent survey showed that food insecurity in the Caribbean is relatively high and growing.
“We are highly food import dependent. CARIFORUM thus welcomes the announcement of the Euro 19 million Caribbean Regional Programme on food production and resilience of food systems. I note my country is eligible.”
The CARIFORUM chair said the 16-member grouping recognizes that the programmable resources for the region under this EU funding cycle are less than under the 11th EDF.
“In this respect …whilst we lament the reduction we have determined as a group to collectively decide the priorities to be financed by the pool of resources the EU is making available to us. Commissioner, that pooling extends to technical capacities. CARIFORUM States will not be able, to individually, efficiently, and effectively address all the requirements of our evolving partnership. A strong or stronger coordinating arm on behalf of the region is needed now more than ever,” he added.