CARICOM looking to Norway for assistance in reversing ODA criteria

By CMC

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CARICOM Secretary General Irwin LaRocque (RIGHT) receiving the Letters of Credence from Ingrid Mollestad as Norways first Ambassador to CARICOM

(CMC) – The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Tuesday urged Norway to continue its efforts to help reverse the criteria being used by the developed countries for providing small middle-income countries which have been affected by natural disasters.

CARICOM Secretary General Irwin LaRocque said the 15-member grouping welcomed the statement made in New York recently by Norway’s Foreign Minister that the Nordic countries supported the removal of the gross domestic product (GDP) criteria, in respect of Overseas Development Assistance (ODA) for small, middle-income countries.

In May, Norway`s Minister for International Development, Nikolai Astrup, had informed CARICOM foreign Ministers that Norway’s official position was that graduated countries should be eligible for ODA when their economic base is ruined by a catastrophe.

LaRocque, who accepted the Letters of Credence from Ingrid Mollestad as Norway’s first ambassador to CARICOM, noted that concessional financing should not hinge on a disaster.

LaRocque said CARICOM proposes that “per capita income criteria should not apply in instances where countries are seeking to invest in building resilience to climate change before a disaster occurs.”

He said that discussions on this matter were ongoing this week during the meetings of the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and called on the support of Norway and other Nordic countries which are members of the DAC.

“Excellency, we seek the strongest support from the international community, as we seek to build our resilience, and to advocate for the realisation of appropriate international policies.

“Policies that would allow for the achievement of a balance in the provision of financial, human and institutional resources for mitigation and adaptation actions. I feel confident that Norway would lend its support and influence in the relevant international fora to aid our cause,” LaRocque told the new envoy.

Mollestad, describing 2018 as an eventful year in CARICOM-Norway relations, said engagements between CARICOM and Norway in May, July and September demonstrated the many interests and values they shared.

She said the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed between the CARICOM Foreign Ministers and Norway in 2016, provided an excellent framework for further work in areas in which her country has keen interests including climate change, climate adaptation and resilience, clean and healthy oceans and the blue economy.

LaRocque said CARICOM welcomed the structured review of the regional fisheries sector aimed at strengthening capacity.

He said the Caribbean also appreciated the comprehensive marine survey of the region to be undertaken by a Norwegian Research Vessel.

In addition, he said the establishment of a high-level panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy, aimed at promoting science-based decision-making in the fields of ocean economy and ocean management, is of great relevance to CARICOM, comprised for the most part, of small states with large marine territories.

“Balancing our development aspirations with our desire to be more respectful of our marine, and land, environment is a major priority for CARICOM,” he said, expressing appreciation for this kind of cooperation from “friendly countries such as the Kingdom of Norway.”

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