Speeches / Presentations

Keynote Address by Celina Caesar -Chavannes Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Development

Caribbean descent. I myself, as a daughter of the soil, from Grenada, am proud of this close bond, and it is a privilege to be able to continue building these bridges between our countries.
In addition to people-to-people ties, we have strong economic ties and a histo-ry of close cooperation on develop-ment, climate change, and regional se-curity. This will continue.

It is with this relationship in mind, that I, on behalf of the Government of Cana-da and all Canadians, would like to ex-press my deepest sympathy and soli-darity for all the victims of the hurri-canes that devastated the region this past September.
I know how strong and resilient Carib-bean communities are. You have demonstrated, so many times, your capacity to recover and rebuild for yourselves and your children. My own Grenada had to do so after Hurricane Ivan in 2004, and did so masterfully.
These Category 5 hurricanes reminded the world once again that small island states are on the frontline of the im-pacts of climate change. As an interna-tional community, we are called upon to act now, because we know that eve-ry one of us will be affected.
That is why Canada was quick to re-spond in the aftermath of the hurri-canes.
We provided $2 million to our humani-tarian partners to mobilize relief work-ers, prevent disease outbreaks, and deliver life-saving supplies and assis-tance.
I wish to reiterate again, that we will continue to be there for our friends in the Caribbean.
That is why today, I am happy to an-nounce Canada’s pledge of 100 mil-lion Canadian dollars over five years for Caribbean sovereign states that were affected.
This pledge will support reconstruction and help strengthen climate resilience and adaptation in the long term.
Dans les mois à venir nous allons mettre en oeuvre une série d’initiatives avec des partenaires de confiance.
Une attention particulière va être por-tée aux projets de reconstruction et d’adaptation aux changements clima-tique, utilisant une approche sensible au genre et qui vise le secteur des énergies renouvelables.
We will also work with the private sec-tor, multilateral development banks, and governments to build financial re-silience in the face of climate change.
I want to commend the work of regional organizations such as the Caribbean Disaster and Emergency Management Agency, which played a key role in co-ordinating the humanitarian response, as well as the Caribbean Development Bank.

I also want to acknowledge the work of the Small States Forum under Prime Minister Mitchell’s strong leadership. This work will be an integral part of to-day’s discussions.
And I want to thank the UN and CARICOM for bringing us together for the opportunity to pledge our support.
As Canada’s Minister of International Development Marie-Claude Bibeau said at the World Bank Annual Meet-ings, going forward, we will be guided by three principles: local ownership, strong coordination, and the opportuni-ty to innovate.
As mentioned by the PM of Dominica this morning, local ownership means listening to the needs of Caribbean governments and working with regional institutions. We agree.
It also means that women need to be at the forefront of climate change ef-forts, as they rightly should and al-ready are in some communities.
Canada’s Feminist International Assis-tance Policy recognizes that women and girls can be powerful agents of change, and their involvement is criti-cal to building resilient communities.
I have heard that nearly half of the Dominicans being trained to assess building damages are women. That’s great news!
This is important because women’s lo-cal knowledge and networks are part of lasting community recovery.
Our challenge is complex, but this is an opportunity to work together to make a real difference in people’s lives.
So, let’s draw on best practices in dis-aster risk reduction and use innovative financing to bring in technical assis-tance, risk insurance, and the skills of the private sector to build a stronger Caribbean.
Canada shares the vision Caribbean leaders have expressed.
And we want to help you become the first climate resilient countries in the world.
Rest assured that the Caribbean re-gion can count on Canada, as a neigh-bour, and a longstanding friend.
Our pledge is a testament to this.
We stand with you. Thank you.