The local forum was designed to better understand the OECS, the Regional Council of Guadeloupe’s cooperation strategy and the priority areas of collaboration between Guadeloupe and other OECS Member States.
The day was organised by the Center of Geopolitical and International Analysis of Guadeloupe (CAGI) in partnership with the association Contacts Research Caribbean (CORECA).
Key stakeholders who have been working to strengthen the ties between the French territories and the English speaking Caribbean were present including the OECS, represented by the Health Unit and the Climate Change and Risk Management Unit. Also present were the Academy of Martinique, the Martinique and Guadeloupe divisions of the University of Antilles, Large Laboratory (Research Laboratory in Geosciences and Energies based at the University of Antilles in Guadeloupe), the University Hospital Center of Guadeloupe, the Regional Council of Guadeloupe, represented by the Department of Cooperation, the National Institute of Agronomic Research (INRA) and the Express des Iles.
Director of CAGI Fred Reno, highlighted the importance of clarifying what the accession of Guadeloupe as an associate member to the OECS would mean.
“The accession of Guadeloupe as associate member to the OECS will be concluded in less than a month” said Mr. Reno.
“It seemed necessary to clarify a matter which is perceived as a contradiction for some of us.
“Our French territories are included in the space of the European Union but we often forget our first space of identification which is the insular Caribbean and particularly the Eastern Caribbean.
“We are from the same family, like brothers and sisters born of different parents. In other words, Guadeloupe has always been in the Eastern Caribbean.
“We are simply formalizing a geographical, historical and cultural reality. We must assume our identities without complex.
“Being European does not exclude being Caribbean at the same time, which is the true meaning of the status of associate member to the OECS since Martinique and Guadeloupe are French collectivities.
This step is undeniable progress towards a better insertion in our space” concluded Mr. Reno.
The general public engaged in discussions with the speakers on cooperation projects in multiple areas which involve Guadeloupe, Martinique and the OECS Member States, as well as other countries of the greater Caribbean.
Among others, Head of the OECS Health Unit Dr. Carlene Radix presented the INTERREG CARES project (Cooperation, Accessibility, Referents, Electronic Information System). INTERREG CARES which was launched in October 2018 aims to better position access of healthcare services in the French territories of the Caribbean to OECS Nationals.
Climate Change and Risk Management Coordinator at the OECS Crispin d'Auvergne highlighted multiple projects in the area of sustainable development which are currently implemented jointly with other international organisations such as UN agencies.
Director of the National Institute of Agronomic Research (INRA) Harry Ozier-Lafontaine, introduced the Caribbean Amazonian project CAMBIO NET which fosters the development of the bio-economy and small-scale agriculture.
The INTERREG ELAN project coordinated by Educational Cooperation Project Manager at the Academy of Martinique Ghislaine Schuller was briefly presented. INTERREG ELAN will be launched in April 2019 with the objective to boost the mobility of students and education professionals in the Caribbean.
The project, ‘Caribbean Universities’, a presentation of the challenges related to the development of regional sea connections along with the modeling risks and long term impacts of marine submersion on coastal areas in the Caribbean were highlighted among other initiatives carried out in collaboration with multiple countries and territories of the Caribbean.
The study day enabled the general public to gain a better understanding of the official accession of Guadeloupe as an associate member to the OECS on March 14, 2019 which represents a major step in the history of the French territory.
The Regional Council of Guadeloupe has indicated that another meeting will be held on March 15, 2019 * in parallel with the official accession ceremony. This particular meeting will provide the general public with a unique opportunity to interact directly with the Heads of Governments of OECS Member States.
* Further details will be communicated later by the Regional Council of Guadeloupe on the meeting held on March 15, 2019 which will be open to the general public.