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MEDIA RELEASE - Caribbean shares lessons learned in climate change and disaster risk reduction
Port of Spain, May 2011 – A delegation of climate change experts and policymakers from throughout the Caribbean region are in Samoa this week to participate in a climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction conference. The aim of the conference is to share experiences and lessons learned in relation to climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction among Small Island Developing States from the Caribbean, Pacific and Indian Ocean, drawing in experiences from Australia and elsewhere.
The Conference is co-hosted by Australia and the South Pacific Regional Environment Program and is funded by the Australian Government, through the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency and the Australian Agency for International Development.“Here is an example of how shared knowledge and experience in climate change adaptation and disaster risk mitigation will benefit peoples and communities from across very distant hemispheres. We anticipate that the linkages made in Samoa this week will facilitate future collaboration among regions in dealing with these challenges that face communities everywhere,” says Australian High Commissioner, Philip Kentwell.Experts from the University of the West Indies, the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre and the Belize Red Cross are amongst a diverse line-up of presenters for the Conference. Topics under discussion include: information and awareness raising; national planning and policy frameworks; community-based response to climate change and disaster risk reduction and strategies and on-ground options.The Conference will enable policymakers and experts from the Caribbean, Pacific and Indian Ocean to identify good practice, innovative solutions and priorities for future activities covering a range of sectors, including coastal management, water and food security, health, tourism and infrastructure.
MEDIA RELEASE - Australia Opens Consulate in The Bahamas
Following the official visit of the HMAS SYDNEY to Nassau in 2009, to further strengthen relations with The Commonwealth of The Bahamas, the Australian Government formally launched the Australian Consulate in Nassau on 10 February 2011 which was opened in September 2010.
The Consulate is headed by the versatile Mrs Caroline Moncur and it is a significant development highlighting Australia's commitment to deepening ties with The Bahamas and the wider Caribbean.
The Office of the Australian Consulate will be located at #2 Nassau Court, Nassau and the following are the contact details : Tel - 242-326-0083 Ext 107; Fax - 242-326-0389; Mobile - 242-422-1727; E-Mail - firstname.lastname@example.org; Caroline@providencetg.com.
Attending the official launch of the Australian Consulate was His Excellency Sir Arthur A Foulkes, GCMG, Governor General and Lady Foulkes, The Honourable Orville A (Tommy) Turnquest MP, Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs, Senator the Honourable John Delaney, Attorney General, Sir Durward Knowles, living legend, members of the Diplomatic Corps and other distinguished government officials.
Australian High Commissioner to the Bahamas, His Excellency Philip Kentwell expressed his hope that the appointment of Ms Moncur as Honorary Consul in the Bahamas will be viewed as a first step in establishing deeper relations between the two countries and his hope that in the future common bilateral issues would be explored to facilitate the sharing of ideas and experiences.
MEDIA RELEASE - Australia Supports Second Arms Trade Treaty Workshop in Trinidad and Tobago (31 January-1 February 2011)
Regulating the illicit and irresponsible transfer of conventional weapons, will be the subject of an Australian Government-supported regional workshop in Trinidad and Tobago this week.
The two-day workshop will bring together experts from across the Caribbean region who are working toward the establishment of an international Arms Trade Treaty.
Such a treaty would regulate the global flow of conventional weapons, like firearms, which pose both a grave security threat and also impede social and economic development.
As a strong advocate of a regulated and responsible arms trade system, the Australian Government is pleased to partner with the Government of Trinidad and Tobago, CARICOM and the NGO Caribbean Coalition for Development and the Reduction of Armed Violence (CDRAV) on the Second Regional Workshop on the Arms Trade Treaty, which began today. This follows the first Preparatory Workshop held in July 2009, which Australia was also pleased to support.
Speaking at the workshop’s opening ceremony, Philip Kentwell, Australia’s High Commissioner to Trinidad and Tobago and Plenipotentiary Representative to CARICOM, welcomed the commitment of the Trinidad and Tobago Government, CARICOM and CDRAV to the Arms Trade Treaty process.
“Australia is deeply concerned by the devastating impact that armed violence and illicit conventional arms movements, have on women, children and people with disabilities, particularly in a region like the Caribbean which has the world’s highest rate of firearm-related murder.
“This second regional workshop will provide a further opportunity for the Caribbean to identify key regional priorities to bring to the next round of Arms Trade Treaty negotiations which will take place in New York in late February,” Mr Kentwell said.
The Australian Government is committed to strengthening relations with Caribbean countries building on shared historical, sporting, social and political ties. These workshops on the Arms Trade Treaty are a practical demonstration of this commitment.
Australian Assistance in Hurricane Tomas’ Aftermath
Australia is providing an initial A$200,000 in emergency relief assistance in response to the destruction wrought by Hurricane Tomas across the Caribbean in late October 2010.
Australia’s High Commissioner to the Caribbean based in Port of Spain, has spoken directly to Prime Minister Gonsalves of St Vincent and the Grenadines, and with St Lucia’s Foreign Minister Bousquet to express Australia’s deep concern for the welfare of all those affected by the hurricane.
IFRC has today launched a preliminary emergency appeal seeking support from the international community to support national societies of the affected countries. In response, Australia will provide $100,000 to the Red Cross for replenishing emergency relief supplies in St. Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines. The Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) will receive a further $100,000 to assist with its immediate regional response effort.
Australian officials in Port of Spain are in close contact with CDEMA as well as other donors including USAID, UK DFID, the Red Cross and the UNDP.
In June 2010, Australia provided CDEMA with $1 million to assist in the prepositioning of emergency supplies across the region. This was done within the margins of the Australia-CARICOM Development Assistance Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed in November 2009.
Australian authorities are closely monitoring the path of the storm, especially in relation to Haiti which is still recovering from the devastating earthquake it experienced in January 2010 as well as a recent cholera outbreak. Australia stands ready to offer further assistance as appropriate.
Australian High Commission hosts Caribbean Climate Change Seminar
The Australian High Commission recently funded the seminar Climate Change in the Caribbean: Equipping Policy Makers to Combat the Threat, in conjunction with the British High Commission in Barbados. Held on 10 - 11 November 2010 at the Savannah Hotel, Barbados, the seminar was attended by senior policy makers from the Commonwealth Caribbean, including the Permanent Secretaries of ministries in which the effects of climate change are most clearly felt but where climate change expertise is not widespread.
The Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) and the University of the West Indies’ Centre for Resource Management and Environmental Studies (CERMES) provided the lead facilitators and speakers, including Dr Leonard Nurse, Dr Kenrick Leslie, John Firth and Dr Ulric Trotz. Also presenting were Dr Annemarie Watt from the Australian Goverment’s Climate Change Department and Matt Jackson from the United Kingdom’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
Leon Charles from Grenada, Crispin d'Auvergne of St Lucia and Ekhosueyi Iyahen from Caribbean Catastrophic Risk Insurance Facility (CCRIF) presented on current regional initiatives.
Also in attendance were the Focal Points of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) from Environment Ministries across the region.
The seminar's aims were:
To raise awareness of the expected impact of climate change on Caribbean countries, building resilience for those most at risk
To encourage inclusion of climate change elements into planning and policy implementation
To increase understanding of the CARICOM, UK, EU and Australian positions in International Climate Change negotiations and explore synergies
To increase awareness of new climate change finance opportunities, e.g. the Pilot Programme on Climate Resilience, the UN Global Environment Facility, Adaptation Fund and Fast Start Finance, and how to access financing
To present a range of climate change knowledge products and tools and viable options for reducing losses as well as good practice from the region to assist Caribbean governments to respond effectively to the threats.
Australian Government provides training to Caribbean diplomats
The Australian Government has funded a training program created specifically for Caribbean diplomats, prepared by the Australian National University (ANU) and the University of the West Indies (UWI).
Running from August 2nd to September 4th, 2010, The Contemporary Political and Diplomatic Challenges for Small States: Caribbean Perspectives program has prepared mid-career diplomats from across the region for some of the major political and diplomatic challenges that beset Caribbean countries, such as climate change and trade.
Emerging from the Australia-CARICOM Development Assistance Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed in November 2009, the program welcomed participants from Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Haiti, Jamaica, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago. The program began at UWI in Trinidad and Tobago and was continued in Australia, with participants returning to Trinidad for the third and final leg.
The program has fulfilled the expectations of trainers and participants alike with Professor William Maley, Director of the ANU’s Asia-Pacific College of Diplomacy, stating that the various governments could not have found “finer representatives to take part in such an undertaking.”
Mr. Ché Phillip, Foreign Service Officer Grenada, said that he was highly impressed with the speakers, whom he described as “very qualified and credentialed”. Also impressed was Ms. Simone Young, Counsellor at the Permanent Mission of Trinidad and Tobago to the United Nations, Geneva. Ms. Young stated that the “depth of knowledge of the speakers enhanced the lectures and encouraged more interaction.” Other participants emphasised the timeliness of the training and the quality of the presentations, noting that the training would be very useful on return to their respective foreign ministries, particularly in the lead up to the United Nations General Assembly in late September.
Speaking at the opening ceremony at the final leg of the program, Mrs. Joan Mendez, the Deputy Permanent Secretary of the Trinidad and Tobago Ministry of Foreign Affairs, expressed her gratitude to the Australian Government for affording Caribbean diplomats this opportunity.