Dominica's Prime Minister Calls For Continued Collaboration Among Members of the Global South

HAVANA, Cuba – Dominica’s Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit Friday called for “frank and open dialogue” if members of the Group of 77 and China are to achieve their goals of sustainability and resilience in the face of external economic shocks.

carskerrittrDominica’s Prime Minister and CARICOM chairman, Roosevelt Skerrit, addressing the Group of 77 and China summit in Havana (GIS Photo)Addressing the two-day summit of the Group of 77 and China, Skerrit, who is also the chairman of the 15-member regional integration movement, CARICOM, said the event provides for a much-needed opportunity for reflection on the substantive agenda before that seeks to propel the global south towards a sustainable future.

The summit, which is being attended by several other CARICOM leaders,  is being held under the theme “Current Development Challenges: The role of Science, technology and Innovation” and the Dominican prime minister said that now, more than ever, “we live in a world which is shaped and driven by science and technology.

“The reality is, notwithstanding the size of an economy or population, investment in science and technology enables innovations across all sectors, which allows for new productive processes that are essential for human welfare and advancement.

“We have all witnessed positive results when science and technology is utilized as a driver of development.  For decades, it has been this driver, that has influenced the blueprints from which countries in the Caribbean and across the G77, have set and achieved primary developmental objectives and identify solutions to enhance our resilience agenda,  especially in an era of unprecedented geopolitical challenges to the economic development of the global south.”

Skerrit said that the CARICOM region remains committed and constant in its advocacy for meaningful exchanges of the global south, in all aspects of international relations and trade. He said these exchanges facilitate the building of capacity in critical areas including public health, education, information technology, infrastructure development, food security, energy security, climate change and disaster mitigation.

“While we in the global south have made notable progress in science and technology, we must recognize that there remains much to be done to enhance and support our development efforts,” he said, adding “our collective pursuit of innovation in science and technology for global development, facilitates clear and long-lasting shared benefits, providing an effective path to address the current challenges”.

Skerrit warned that “without solidified multilateral engagements, developing countries may continue to face significant challenges in accessing the innovations urgently required”.

He said to this end,  the Caribbean, particularly small island states, has sought to ensure that it continues to be active participants in the realm of science and technology.

“From renewable energy projects and medical sciences innovations to ground-breaking research in marine biology, agriculture and climate resilience, the region continues to demonstrate our commitment to harnessing science and technology for sustainable development.

“Conversely, to create a more conducive environment for investment and growth, we all recognized the need to promote strategic harmonization of technological policies on the legal and regulatory environment.

“We are united on the importance and carving out a universal infrastructure that ensures the affordability and access of technologies , and the need for appropriate skills and awareness across the region, through the development of a CARICOM Single ICT Space and strategic attention to our agriculture, aquaculture and horticulture industries, among other interventions. “

But he told the summit that the Caribbean is also seeking to foster meaningful engagement in multilateral exchanges that facilitate mutually beneficial investments in technology and continue to produce entrepreneurs of tomorrow in the region.

“As heads of small island developing states, we believe that this will support the growing interest in ways we can collectively sustain global innovation, reduce our external debt and food imports, and change the lives of our people in a positive way.”

Prime Minister Skerrit said that while global responses indicate that the global south faces persistent obstacles on its path towards development in a complex global environment, he wanted to reiterate “that multilateral cooperation within the Group of 77 and China is necessary to support our collective efforts to achieve our intersecting developmental objectives.

“It is this collaboration that will assist us in fostering meaningful technological innovations, and ensuring cohesive socio-economic development that can withstand external economic shocks.”

He said the two-day summit recognizes that science and technology underpins all of this,’ adding there is supporting evidence of a direct correlation between scientific research and economic development.

“Digital technologies, robotics, artificial intelligence, biotechnology and nanotechnology all have far-reaching impacts and present opportunities and challenges in respect of the economy, society and the environment that is already felt in all countries.

“By investing in these efforts, we can create more inclusive, democratic, and just societies that value international solidarity and cooperation in areas of collective importance. As such, this kind of high-level engagement is crucial to building strong and mutually beneficial relationships.”

Skerrit said that south-south cooperation continues to strengthen these relationships based on trust, respect, friendship, and cooperation, adding that “by doing so, we can work towards a more equitable, sustainable, and prosperous world”.

He said it is crucial that member countries maintain a flexible and adaptable approach to innovation that allows for continuous learning from the best policies, practices, regulations, laws, technical standards, and services from around the world.

“As we seek to unlock a brighter future for our nations and peoples, we must recognize that achieving this requires breaking down and elimination of existing barriers, promoting international cooperation, and rectifying historical injustices.

“It also requires relentless, intentional building of partnerships to move developing countries from the fledgling stages of using basic technologies and forging interfaces with universities, laboratories, innovation incubators and private sector entities that are at the forefront of the Science and technological change.

“Let us collaborate and commit – with greater resolve, to create a world where every nation can leverage the power of science, technology, and innovation to improve the lives of its people.”

Skerrit said that CARICOM is committed to building more sustainable economies and remains willing to support and encourage all partnerships that are mutually beneficial, lead to synergistic solutions, and foster socioeconomic growth in the Caribbean region.