Australia in US$63M Caricom aid package

Australia will provide A$63.8M (US$63M) in assistance to Caribbean countries over the next four years and will support the Region’s efforts to adapt to climate change and to manage the impacts of natural disasters.

Director-General of the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID), Peter Baxter pledged that Australia’s cooperation with the Caribbean Community will “see real outcomes and practical assistance”, a press release from the Caribbean Com-munity (CARICOM) Secretariat said. Representatives of CARICOM and Australia met at the Secretariat Headquarters, Turkeyen last Friday for the Inaugural CARICOM-Australia High Level Meeting on the Development Assistance Partner-ship.

This Meeting was conducted within the framework of the Memorandum of Understanding between the Parties, which was signed on 29 November, 2009 in the margins of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting hosted in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad and Tobago. It focused on the present technical cooperation relationship particularly against the background of the current global economic climate. The two sides discussed the various areas and modalities through which they could partner to improve the Economic Resilience of the Community, including the areas related to Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction, the release said.

Peter Baxter

It said that Australia will provide A$63.8M in assistance to Caribbean countries over the next four years. Australia has also committed to providing A$17.5M to support the Region’s efforts to adapt to climate change and to manage the impacts of natural disasters. Baxter announced that “the majority of this assistance for climate change is part of Australia’s global A$599 Million Fast-start Climate Change Finance Package announced in June 2010, and will support the work of key Regional Organisations and fund community-level activities across the Caribbean.”

He also shared that about 25 per cent of Australia’s Fast Start funding package will be targeted to the needs of small island states which are highly vulnerable to the likely impacts of climate change, like those in the Caribbean and in the Pacific, the release said.

It said that the meeting also discussed Australia’s support to Haiti, including current and potential projects to assist in the reconstruction and development of the CARICOM Member State. The Government of Australia has been one of the first to provide to Haiti, immediately following the January 12 earthquake and again at the outbreak of cholera in October.

The release said that one of the modalities to be used in the CARICOM-Australia partnership will be People to People and Institutional Links. In this regard, Baxter also announced that an additional 30 scholarships for the Caribbean Region, worth A$3.8M would be granted over the next four years, increasing the overall number from 80 to 110 over the period.

The release reported that CARICOM Secretary-General, Sir Edwin Carrington, in opening remarks said that both sides were pleased at the pace and intensity with which the CARICOM-Australia relationship had deepened over the past year.

The CARICOM delegation to the talks was led by Ambassador Lolita Applewhaite, Deputy Secretary-General and included senior officials of the Directorates of Trade and Economic Integration, Human and Social Development and Foreign and Community Relations.

Baxter headed the Australian delegation which also comprised Philip Kentwell – Australian High Commissioner; Dr Annmarie Watt – Assistant Secretary-General (Ag.), Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency; Fiona Cornwell – Director, Caribbean AusAID and Hannah Bleby – First Secretary Development, AusAID.

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