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Customized Cooperation: IAEA-CARICOM Member States to Develop First-Ever Regional Strategic Approach

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Members of the radiation safety ‘break-out’ group convene on the side-lines of the broader regional meeting to discuss matters related to the radiation protection of workers, the public and the environment. (Photo: O. Yusuf/IAEA)

Since 2012, nine Member States of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) have joined the IAEA. These countries share common needs and at the same time face unique challenges in adopting the use of nuclear technologies – owning to their small size and isolation. Responding to this need, a regional meeting was held from 26 to 30 August to draft a Regional Strategic Framework, which will support efforts to coordinate technical cooperation between the IAEA and members of CARICOM.

Food production, energy planning, water security and climate conditions are all influenced by the geography of the region. In view of these pressing needs, 16 representatives from the region and from multilateral organizations convened at the IAEA’s headquarters to begin developing the first-ever Regional Strategic Framework (RSF) for the Caribbean, which will align technical cooperation (TC) activities with regional development priorities for the next six years, from 2020 to 2026.  

“The Caribbean has unique challenges and unique vulnerabilities. While we recognize that some of the issues and risks cut across many geographic regions, the Caribbean as a whole requires a separate focus, given the shared experiences of its populations,” said Ronald Jackson of the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency. 

"Cancer is the number one killer in the region. The Caribbean stands out in this issue, as our mortality rates are several times higher than our neighbours elsewhere in the Latin America region. The IAEA can help us strengthen collaboration with other countries, in terms of quality of services and uniformity of standards," said Carlene Radix, a representative of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States. 

The RSF is expected to inform the design and implementation of regional projects for the next three TC programme cycles. In view of its anticipated influence on IAEA activities and partnerships, stakeholder organizations based in the Caribbean were invited to participate in its development, including the Caribbean Institute for Meteorology and Hydrology (CIMH), the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCC), the Organisation of East Caribbean States (OECS), the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), the University of West Indies and the Caribbean Agricultural Health and Food Safety Agency (CAHFSA), with whom the IAEA signed a Practical Arrangement last year.

Cancer is the number one killer in the region. The Caribbean stands out in this issue, as our mortality rates are several times higher than our neighbours elsewhere in the Latin America region. The IAEA can help us strengthen collaboration with other countries, in terms of quality of services and uniformity of standards.
Carlene Radix, Organization of Eastern Caribbean States

The meeting was officially opened on 22 August by Dazhu Yang, IAEA Deputy Director General and Head of the Department of Technical Cooperation. (Photo: O. Yusuf/IAEA)

The National Liaison Officers, IAEA experts and regional organization representatives were divided into groups on the basis of six thematic areas, which represent the development priorities of the Caribbean and where the IAEA possesses core competencies. These ‘break-out’ groups worked to prioritize the most acute regional needs in each of the six corresponding sectors—food and agriculture, human health, environment, energy, radiation safety and radiation applications—while simultaneously developing baseline data with which to eventually identify objectives and evaluate progress.

Efforts to promote knowledge management in the region, to leverage new and existing partnerships and to introduce gender mainstreaming as a component of all IAEA activities in the Caribbean were central to the deliberations. Additionally, the development of the Regional Strategic Framework drew heavily from other existing regional, strategic documents—such as the CARICOM Strategic Plan of 2015 to 2019 and the UN Multi-Country Sustainable Development Framework (UNMSDF)—in order to identify opportunities for collaboration and complementarity.

“By clearly identifying opportunities for nuclear technology to contribute to development, by attracting new partnerships and by encouraging greater engagement with stakeholder organizations in the region, the forthcoming Regional Strategic Framework is expected to transform the contribution of the IAEA’s technical cooperation programme in the Caribbean,” said Saul Perez Pijuan, Section Head in the TC Division for Latin America and the Caribbean. Following further consultations and revisions, it is anticipated that the RSF will be finalized and officially accepted by the participating Member States in November 2019, he added.

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