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8TH INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION CONFERENCE

“Propelling The Greater Caribbean Through Pathways For Sustainable Development”

The countries of Greater Caribbean share a common vision for sustainable development which redounds to the benefit of their people, ecosystems and economies. In the context of the ACS, Greater Caribbean countries and territories identify solutions to their shared multidimensional challenges, sharing best practices and engaging in cooperation to address the recurrent threat of massive arrivals of sargassum coastal erosion but also means of rendering tourism more sustainable and securing better maritime/air transportation digitization, and trade and investment.

The 8th International Cooperation Conference will continue to build on the “bridges of cooperation” which were formalized at its 6th and 7th editions held in Cuba and Guatemala in 2022 and 2023, respectively. The conference will serve as a platform upon which bridges for inclusive, innovative and transformative engagement can propel the mobilisation of the financial and technical resources required to activate the initiatives, programmes and projects developed by the ACS. These bridges will in turn serve as pathways for increased trade as a key economic driver for sustained growth in the medium and long term.

The 8th International Cooperation Conference aims to advance dialogue on cooperation with international partners in ACS prioritised areas of action

sargassum1
Sargassum
caribbean1
Designation of the Caribbean Sea as a Special Zone
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Geospatial Information Systems for Disaster Prevention
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Multi-Hazard Early Warning Systems
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Maritime Transport, Logistics and Connectivity
cooperation1
Public-Private Partnerships

Draft Agenda

Tuesday 7 May 2024

Hotel Torarica - Paramaribo, Suriname

8:15 – 9:00

Accreditation and Registration of Participants

9:00 – 9:30

1. Welcome Remarks by the President of the Ministerial Council

H.E. Albert Ramdin, Minister of Foreign Affairs, International Business and International Cooperation of the Republic of Suriname.

2. Opening Remarks by the Secretary General of the ACS

H.E. Rodolfo Sabonge, Secretary General of the ACS.

3. Remarks by the Chair of the Special Committee on Cooperation and Resource Mobilisation

H.E. Carolina Molina Barrantes, Director of International Cooperation, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Worship of the Republic of Costa Rica.

9:30 – 9:40

Official Photo

9:40 – 10:00

4. Presentation on ACS Projects and Initiatives

Presentation by Mrs. Lisa Douglas Paul, ACS Advisor for Cooperation and Resource Mobilisation.

This segment will introduce all the Projects and Initiatives of the ACS by priority thematic area. The presentation would explore the status of each project and initiative and will highlight those which were recently approved for 2023/24 and those which have been prioritised for mobilisation.

10:00 – 10:45

5.  Transport

Topic: “On the Digital Horizon: Revolutionizing Transport in the Greater Caribbean”

ACS Projects:

  • Digital Transformation for the Transport Sector in the Greater Caribbean
  • Maritime Transport and Logistics Strategy and Action Plan for the Greater Caribbean region

Transport is fundamental to the Caribbean’s economic growth, social development, and resilience, as it serves as the lifeline for trade, sustainable tourism, and swift emergency response during crises. Despite its critical role, the transport landscape in the Greater Caribbean remains fragmented, hindering the region’s sustainable development potential. Embracing digital transformation emerges as a pivotal solution, promising to revolutionize transport networks and bolster connectivity across the region.

The panel will explore how the Digital Transformation for the Transport Sector in the Greater Caribbean and Maritime Transport and Logistics Strategy and Action Plan for the Greater Caribbean projects seeks to unlock the transformative power of digital technologies and foster seamless connectivity in the Greater Caribbean region. The panel will be moderated by His Excellency Rodolfo Sabonge, Secretary General of the ACS, with his wealth of experience in the Panama Canal, and transportation systems globally.  The panel will also feature prominent experts from the World Bank, the Development Bank of Latin America and the Caribbean (CAF) and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) that will explore the actionable solutions that can promote efficient transportation systems for the Greater Caribbean region.

Guiding questions

  1. What have the current assessments of the maritime transport connectivity in Greater Caribbean conducted in Component I of the Maritime Transport and Logistics Strategy and Action Plan for the Greater Caribbean revealed thus far?
  2. How can digital transformation be leveraged address the challenges impeding the optimization of the transport sector in the Greater Caribbean?
  3. What strategies should be prioritized to establish an integrated logistics and transport ecosystem?

In what ways can the proposed development framework for maritime transport and logistics modernization contribute to enhancing resilience, fostering growth, and improving competitiveness within the Greater Caribbean’s transport sector?

Moderator: H.E. Rodolfo Sabonge, Secretary General of the ACS

  • Mr. William Brown, Vice President of the Caribbean Shipping Association (CSA)
  • Mr. Andreas Talea, CEO, N. V. Havenbeheer Suriname – Port Management Company
  • Mr. Ugo Blanco, Resident Representative, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
  • Mr. Bernardo Requena, Development Bank of Latin America and the Caribbean (CAF)

Questions and Answers

10:45 – 11:00

Coffee Break

11:00 – 11:40

6. Trade and Economic External Relations

Topic: “Beyond Borders: Navigating the Future of MSME Trade with Digital Technology in the Greater Caribbean”

ACS Project:

  • Digital Transformation for the Promotion of Trade Competitiveness in the Greater Caribbean
  • Strategic Framework for the Economic Expansion of the Ocean Economy in the Greater Caribbean

Continued advancements in technology, particularly in the realm of finance, are reshaping the landscape of international trade. Embracing innovative digital solutions not only presents new avenues for the internationalization of MSMEs but also underscores the necessity for them to adapt within an increasingly competitive global arena.

This discussion will explore how digital transformation, including Fintech tools, can serve as a catalyst for MSMEs to internationalize and access new markets, marking a significant step in their growth journey. Moreover, the conversation will extend beyond Fintech to encompass the broader concept of leveraging digitalization for sustainable trade practices, with a focus on harnessing the blue economy’s potential in an environmentally responsible manner. In particular, the panel will examine how the Digital Transformation for the Promotion of Trade Competitiveness in the Greater Caribbean and Strategic Framework for the Economic Expansion of the Ocean Economy in the Greater Caribbean projects incorporate elements that seek to promote the use of digital technologies by MSMEs.

Experts from the IDB will success stories, and expert insights on actionable strategies for MSMEs to leverage Fintech for international trade expansion. Additionally, policymakers from ACS Member States will share perspectives on creating an enabling regulatory environment that supports the integration of Fintech into the MSME trade ecosystem.

Guiding questions:

  1. What actionable steps should be taken at the regional level to accelerate the adoption of digital technologies in trade and business environments, facilitating MSMEs’ access to international markets?
  2. What are some challenges encountered by MSMEs in adopting these new technologies and integrating them into their business processes?
  3. Considering regional ocean economy governance efforts, how can policymakers collaboratively develop trade strategies and capacity-building programs to foster sustainable trade practices and inclusive economic growth within the Greater Caribbean?

Moderator: Ms. Safiya Reid, Officer-in-Charge, Directorate for Trade and Sustainable Development

  • Ms. Karishma Mathoera, Permanent Secretary of Entrepreneurship, Representative of the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Entrepreneurship, and Technological Innovation of Suriname
  • Mr. Derrick Klaverweide, Vice Chairman, Suriname Guyana Chamber of Commerce (SGCC)
  • Mr. Joao Wong A Foe, FinTech Coordinator, Central Bank of Suriname
  • Mr. Steven Debipersad, Chairperson of the Association of Economists in Suriname (VES)
  • Ms. Nancy Lara Smart, Director for International Promotion, Secretariat of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Republic of Honduras

Questions and Answers

11:40 – 12:00

7. Future Feature for Cooperation – Spotlight on Suriname

Topic: “Planting the Seeds for Resilience – Mangrove Conservation and Preservation in Greater Caribbean”

Presenter: Dr. Sieuwnath Naipal, Professor at the University Anton de Kom, Suriname

Mangroves play a crucial role in mitigating and adapting to climate change, but they are also vulnerable to its impacts. Rising sea levels, ocean acidification, and extreme weather changes have adversely impacted the distribution and health of mangrove ecosystems. Conserving and restoring mangrove ecosystems is crucial to global efforts to enhance the resilience to climate change and for the valuable services they provide such as the protection against costal erosion.

Professor Dr. Sieuwnath Naipal will deliver a presentation on the efforts made by Suriname at the national level geared towards mangrove conservation, preservation and protection and lessons that could be applied jointly as the Greater Caribbean. An overview of the impact of climate change on the mangroves in the Greater Caribbean will also be highlighted. A presentation will also be made by the representatives from Worldview International Foundation and the Caribbean Sea Commission on future initiatives of the ACS geared towards the preservation and conservation of mangroves in the Greater Caribbean.

Questions and Answers

12:00 – 13:30

Lunch Break

13:30 – 13:45

8. Launch of the 3rd Edition of the ACS South-South Cooperation Catalogue

Presenter: Ms. Lisa Douglas Paul, Advisor for Cooperation and Resource Mobilisation, ACS

This segment introduces the 3rd Edition of the ACS’s South-South Cooperation Catalogue, compiling best practices from Member States in priority areas for the Greater Caribbean. By fostering collaboration, the Catalogue promotes innovative solutions and sustainable development across the region, setting a precedent for enhanced South-South Cooperation efforts within Latin America and the Caribbean.

13:45 – 14:05

9. Declaring the Caribbean Sea as a Special Zone – A priority for the Greater Caribbean

Topic: “Economic Integration as a Driver for a Sustainable Development”

Presenter: Mr. Jesus Guerra Bell, Representative from Cuba, Chair of the Caribbean Sea Commission

Against the backdrop of historical milestones, including the presentation of the Caribbean Sea Initiative to the UN General Assembly in 1999, and the establishment of the Caribbean Sea Commission (CSC) by the ACS Ministerial Council in 2006, this segment underscores the ongoing efforts towards declaring the Caribbean Sea as a Special Zone. Tasked with overseeing the execution of the Caribbean Sea Initiative, the CSC took on a dual responsibility of shaping governance structures and promoting collaborative endeavours to tackle prevalent issues. Moving forward, fostering active involvement from Member States, receiving support from donor countries, and refining strategies are deemed essential in propelling forward this critical initiative for sustainable development in the Caribbean.

This presentation will detail the current efforts by the ACS to advance the designation of the Caribbean Sea as a Special Zone in the Context of Sustainable Development.

[VIDEO PRESENTATION] Mr. Jesus Guerra Bell, Representative from Cuba, Chair of the Caribbean Sea Commission

Questions and Answers

14:05 – 14:50

10. The Preservation and Conservation of the Caribbean Sea

Topic: “Alternative uses for Sargassum for the Greater Caribbean: Transforming Crisis into Opportunity”

Since 2011, the influx of sargassum seaweed in the Caribbean Sea has posed a pressing environmental challenge to the Caribbean region. The impact of the influx, although environmental in nature, extends beyond the ecological impact to the broader elements comprising the blue economy. More recently, research on tackling the crisis go beyond retrieval and disposal and now extended to finding innovative ways to utilize Sargassum for various manufacturing purposes ranging from bioplastics, biofuel production and even pharmaceuticals and cosmetics.

Experts from the Dominican Republic, Cuba and the Brazilian Cooperation Agency (ABC) will delve into the scientific approaches for the innovative strategies for the sustainable management of sargassum and some of the potential commercial benefits of the seaweed. The panel aims to foster a collaborative dialogue among scientists, policymakers, and local stakeholders on the ways in which this crisis, through effective, region-specific solutions, can be transformed into opportunities to enhance the long-term growth prospects for the Greater Caribbean.

Guiding questions:

  1. What are some key considerations for national stakeholders in determining what alternative uses for sargassum could be most appropriately applied by the countries of the Greater Caribbean?
  2. What are some of the concrete examples of the alternative ways in which sargassum is being used in manufacturing processes in the Greater Caribbean?

Moderator: Mrs. Cherisse Braithwaite-Joseph, Advisor, Directorate for Disaster Risk Reduction, Sustainable Tourism, the Caribbean Sea and the Environment

  • José Eduardo Martinelli Filho, Head of Biological Oceanography Laboratory, Instituto de Geociências, Universidade Federal do Pará, Geosciences Institute, Federal University of Pará.
  • Andrés Bisono León, SOS Carbón, República Dominicana

Mr. Milton O. Haughton, Executive Director, Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM)

Questions and Answers

14:50 – 15:30

11. Sustainable Tourism

Topic: “Navigating Niche Tourism – Promoting Unique Experiences Across the Greater Caribbean”

ACS Project:

  • Revitalisation of the Sustainable Tourism Zone of the Graeter Caribbean
  • Sustainable Tourism Strategy for the Greater Caribbean

Since 2011, the influx of sargassum seaweed in the Caribbean Sea has posed a pressing environmental challenge to the Caribbean region. The impact of the influx, although environmental in nature, extends beyond the ecological impact to the broader elements comprising the blue economy. More recently, research on tackling the crisis go beyond retrieval and disposal and now extended to finding innovative ways to utilize Sargassum for various manufacturing purposes ranging from bioplastics, biofuel production and even pharmaceuticals and cosmetics.

Experts from the Dominican Republic, Cuba and the Brazilian Cooperation Agency (ABC) will delve into the scientific approaches for the innovative strategies for the sustainable management of sargassum and some of the potential commercial benefits of the seaweed. The panel aims to foster a collaborative dialogue among scientists, policymakers, and local stakeholders on the ways in which this crisis, through effective, region-specific solutions, can be transformed into opportunities to enhance the long-term growth prospects for the Greater Caribbean.

Guiding questions:

  1. What are some key considerations for national stakeholders in determining what alternative uses for sargassum could be most appropriately applied by the countries of the Greater Caribbean?
  2. What are some of the concrete examples of the alternative ways in which sargassum is being used in manufacturing processes in the Greater Caribbean?

Moderator: Representative from Barbados, Chair of Special Committee on Sustainable Tourism 

  • Dona Regis-Prosper, Secretary General, Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO)
  • Mr. Rabin Boeddha Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Tourism, Republic of Suriname
  • Ms. Sylvia Ang, Chairwoman, Suriname Hospitality and Tourism Association (SHATA)

15:30 – 15:45

Coffee Break

15:45 – 16:30

12. Dialogue and Exchange among the Participants

Commitment to ACS Cooperation Initiatives – Participants will be invited to engage in exchanges on the approved ACS projects and initiatives and to indicate their commitments in the form of technical and financial support.

16:30 – 16:45

13. Signing of Memorandum of Understanding between the ACS and:

  • United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
  • Brazil Cooperation Agency (ABC)
  • Worldview International Foundation (WIF)
Closing Remarks

16:45 – 17:00

14. Closing Remarks by the President of the Ministerial Council

H.E. Albert Ramdin, Minister of Foreign Affairs, International Business and International Cooperation of the Republic of Suriname

15. Closing Remarks by the Secretary General of the ACS

H.E Rodolfo Sabonge will deliver closing remarks.

16. Closing Remarks by the Chair of the Special Committee on Cooperation and Resource Mobilisation

H.E Carolina Molina Barrantes will present the highlights of the Conference and formally close the meeting.

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