The strong message coming from participants in the second ACP Eminent Persons’ Group consultation is that beyond 2020 the body should continue to exist but its vision should not only focus on relationship with Europe and the membership need to take full control of its operations.
“At present the Secretariat is seen more as a convener and a catalyst but it need to reach to the point where the membership have control of it and they can direct the institution to better suit their needs,” said Ms Patricia Francis, a member of the Eminent Persons’ Group.
“Relationship building should not only be with Europe but Europe Plus others because we have to and need to create an environment that will encourage strong partnership for all the membership,” Francis said.
She explained that in moving forward structures will need to be put in place for membership to “have ownership so that it can deliver to them what is expected from it. “We have to make sure we don’t give the organization a basket to carry water,” she answered when asked whether membership fees will in the future be considered.
“We are still in the early days, this is second consultation and to date we are pleasantly surprised at what we are reading from the consultations, each area will have its own issues and challenges but what we strongly gathered from this consultation in Grenada is that the body need to be preserved,” said Chef de Cabinet of the ACP Secretariat, Dr Obadiah Mailafia.
In a news conference following the two days of consultation Dr Mailafia said that the common challenges and issues to date is that of sustainable development especially for the Caribbean and Pacific whose territories stand to be negatively impact by climate change.
“Marine and sea level rise is definitely a concern and challenge for the Caribbean and the Pacific regions where as for Africa it’s the issues of peace and security due to our natural mineral, which is the source of many conflicts,” he said.
Francis who is the former Executive Director of ITU, Geneva said that the common challenges for all of the ACP is food security, energy, climate change, peace and security and though they are manifested differently they are still the same.
“For example, peace and security for the Caribbean region is in the area of drugs trafficking but in African its one base on mineral and this is resulting in conflict,” explained said Percival Marie, Director General of the Cariforum. “What we felt is that, we as the ACP membership should face those challenges together as the ACP is a good vehicle towards coming up and identifying solutions to these challenges,” he said.
The consultation was held at the Grand Beach Convention Centre and attended by more than 50 persons from the ACP region.