Benn and other delegates share a light moment with Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Dr. Ralph Gonsalves (seated in the centre) COMMISSIONER and Chief Executive Officer of the Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission (GLSC), Trevor Benn has called for regional political support for the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD).
Benn, who chairs the Committee of the Whole (COW) for the fourteenth Session of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, Conference of Parties, (UNCCD- COP14), made the call during a meeting with the Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, several ministers from across the Caribbean region and UNCCD focal points from Guyana and several CARICOM countries. According to a press statement from the GLSC, Benn said of the three RIO Conventions, the UNCCD continues to receive the least political and financial support. This he said cannot continue since the work of the convention is affected and CARICOM states feel the effect of this lack of support.
Despite this, Benn pointed out that the reliance on the convention is overwhelming given its importance in fulfilling the everyday needs of society. “For me it is a no-brainer that we must pay more attention to land and I hope that your presence here Mr. Prime Minister, results in a change in the attitudes of our leaders especially those in the Caribbean. Your work is going to be extremely important Mr. Prime Minister, in ensuring that this convention gets the respect it deserves going forward,” said Benn.
Benn pointed out that some of the issues, which the convention is facing, were addressed by CARICOM almost two decades ago. He reminded the Prime minister that in 2002, CARICOM signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with UNCCD. Since the signing of that MOU not much has been done to honour the spirit of the MOU. “So we are asking honorable Prime Minister, that you use your good office to put this convention back on the agenda for CARCOM to renew this MOU which was signed in 2002 to give it the kind of political weight it requires,” said Benn.
He said at the level of technicians, their call to CARICOM seems to be falling on deaf ears and, therefore, he believes that only political intervention can result in the actions that are needed. Benn’s sentiments were supported by Guyana’s High Commissioner to India, Ambassador, David Pollard and Director of Multilateral & Global Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Troy Torrington.
Also making an intervention was Haiti’s Minister of Environment, Joseph Jouthe, who called for urgent support from politicians around the region.
“It is about time that politicians across the region recognize the importance of this convention and what it stands for, land issues are no joke. “Perhaps the reason the support is hard to come by for this convention is because we have persons benefitting from what we are fighting against” he stressed the problem lies with those having vested interest in land and maybe that is why we are having limited support from some sections of our political elite,” the minister asserted. After listened keenly to all the presentations, Prime Minister Gonsalves promised to raise the issues with his fellow Heads of State from the region.
“I hear all the issues raised, and I can give you some assurance that this matter will be raised at the level of CARICOM,” said the Prime Minister. Gonsalves is likely to chair the next session of the CARICOM Heads of Government meeting where he has given the assurance to place the matter on the agenda.
A large number of Caribbean delegates are currently in India for the fourteenth session of the Conference of Parties, (COP 14). Benn and the delegation from Guyana will be meeting next with Minister of State for Environment Forest and Climate Change of India, Shri Baul Supriyo,
LINK ORIGINAL: Guyana Chronicle