Caribbean leaders meet with President Biden and Vice President Harris to tackle climate, economy, and food security challenges

The Ninth Summit of the Americas concluded Friday in Los Angeles, California with new commitments to climate adaptation, clean energy, and food security.  The Summit focused on “Building a Sustainable, Resilient, and Equitable Future” and included the participation of leaders from across the Caribbean.  Both President Biden and Vice President Harris met with CARICOM members on Thursday and Secretary of State Blinken hosted multiple Caribbean Heads of Government during meetings on Friday.  

As President Biden explained, “There’s a lot that I think we can and should do.  This is a partnership.  My intention is to intensify the relationship with the Caribbean.  And I mean that sincerely.  You’re critically important to us in every way, and I hope we’re important to you.”  

U.S. and CARICOM leaders discussed Vice President Harris’s announcement of the U.S.-Caribbean Partnership to Address the Climate Crisis, or PACC 2030.  The new initiative will elevate U.S. cooperation with Caribbean countries to support climate adaptation, strengthen energy security, and accelerate the transition to clean energy, while building the resilience of critical infrastructure and local economies to the climate crisis.  PACC 2030 specifically focuses on improving access to development financing, a priority for the region.  PACC 2030 will work to expand existing access to project financing and unlock new financing mechanisms to support climate and clean energy infrastructure development in the region.  Key actions under this pillar will include increasing U.S. International Development Finance Corporation financing for climate and clean energy projects in underserved Caribbean countries, as well as collaborating with multilateral development banks and multilateral climate and environmental trust funds to improve the policy environment and unlock access to additional infrastructure financing for the Caribbean.

The announcement of PACC 2030 followed President Biden’s launch earlier in the week of the Americas Partnership for Economic Prosperity, a historic new agreement to drive the hemisphere’s economic recovery and growth.  Still reeling from the disproportionate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Caribbean and Latin America have seen the deepest economic contraction of any region in the world.  

In his remarks Friday at the Summit, Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne said, “Right now there’s a confluence of troubling global events that require our collective and strong leadership to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and to respond adequately to climate change and surmount the challenges of food insecurity and escalating oil prices.”  

“My government welcomes President Biden’s announcement of a new Americas Partnership for Economic Prosperity.  My government is particularly pleased that President Biden’s Americas Partnership aims to mobilize new financing and to revitalize multilateral development banks, revamping their lending policies to better meet the specific needs of the majority of our nations,” said Prime Minister Browne.

During the same meeting on Friday, Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley also addressed the multitude of challenges facing the hemisphere and the need for collective action.  “That’s why I’ve come also to thank President Biden and Vice President Harris,” she said.  “For too long there has been benign neglect, and the Partnership for the Americas as well as the Climate Partnership Pact 2030 offers us a real possibility of hope, but it is up to each of us to keep and hold each other accountable.  We cannot achieve it overnight, but we are moving in the right direction.”

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