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Secretary General addresses ACP Parliamentary Assembly in Brussels

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STATEMENT BY H.E. DR. PATRICK I GOMES, SECRETARY-GENERAL OF THE ACP GROUP OF STATES, AT THE 43rd SESSION OF THE ACP PARLIAMENTARY ASSEMBLY BRUSSELS, BELGIUM
 
Wednesday 12 October 2016
 
- Hon. Netty Baldeh, President of the ACP Parliamentary Assembly
- Honourable Members,
- Excellencies ACP Ambassadors present and Representatives of Missions
- Ladies and Gentlemen, 
 
I would like to thank you for yet another opportunity to have this engagement with you during this series of your meetings. It is an honour and privilege to interact with our elected representatives from across the length and breadth of the ACP Membership. 
 
Mr. President,
Allow me from the onset to express my sincere apologies for not being able to attend the 42nd Session of the ACP Parliamentary Assembly and 31st Session of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly held in Windhoek, Namibia. Due to ill health, my travels were restricted. I am however reliably informed that the deliberations were highly informative. This would not have been possible if it were not for your dedication and the support from Assistant Secretary-General Amb. Léonard-Emile Ognimba, who graciously and ably represented.
 
Mr. President,
I take this opportunity to express the condolences and sympathy of the ACP Group to the Government and people of Caribbean Member States in which devastation and loss of lives have been caused by Hurricane Matthew. Some eight countries have been severely affected with tremendous damage and loss of life in Saint Vincent and Grenadines, Saint Lucia, Jamaica, Cuba, Bahamas, Dominican Republic and Haiti where some 900 deaths have been recorded. 
 
We reiterate and convey our solidarity with the people of the affected countries, urgently hoping they receive speedy recovery and meaningful access to water, food, health services and rehabilitation of their physical infrastructure.  The devastation is catastrophic in Haiti. 
The ACP Secretariat has been working hard to mobilise financial support to humanitarian efforts. However, it is most apparent, that Haiti will continue to need long-term support to build resilience, the necessary capacity to address substantial economic recovery and better preparedness for such disasters. 
 
Mr. President,
I would like to take a few moments to update you on some of the developments that we are following-up in the Secretariat. In June this year, the ACP held its 8th Summit of States and Government in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea. This key summit gave new direction to the reinventing and repositioning of the ACP Group. To implement the decisions of the 8th Summit, a road map has been developed for consultations with regional organizations on the EPG Report as recommended by the Heads of State and Government.  
 
The 36th Ordinary Summit of SADC in the Kingdom of Swaziland in late August addressed inter alia, a SADC common position on the future of the ACP Group.  Among issues, SADC wishes to see address are innovative loan and investment instruments for sectors such as sustainable energy development, industrialization and agro-food policies in the face of climate change.
 
Pacific Leaders in their annual Summit met in Pohnpei, Micronesia in early September and exchanged views on the EPG Report, offering useful critical comments.  The CARIFORUM Council of Ministers was scheduled to meet last week in Jamaica but this had to be cancelled due to the hurricane. 
 
On Friday this week, on the margins of the Extraordinary Summit of the African Union on Maritime Security, that will be held in Lomé, Togo, on 15 October 2016, the African Union Commission in collaboration with the ACP Secretariat plan to hold an AU Heads of State Consultation on the EPG Report. Chief Obasanjo, as Chair of the EPG, will present its findings and conclusions.
 
The results of these consultations will be presented to the 104th Session of Council of Ministers that will take place from 28 to 30 November 2016 here in Brussels. 
 
 
Mr. President,
As the Cotonou Agreement draws to a close, it will need to be replaced with an Agreement that responds to the challenges of our times, the needs of our people and the objectives of the UN Agenda 2030 and SDGs.
 
The EU institutions have also embarked on their own consultative processes on the future of the Cotonou Agreement. The European Parliament launched a report on post 2020 relations with your colleague Norbert Neuser as Rapporteur. 
 
The report called for the need to strengthen various elements that were considered weak in the Cotonou Agreement especially in the area of political dialogue, as well as addressing new challenges such as migration, terrorism and the Sustainable Development Goals. The report also called for the budgetisation of the EDF and the possible expansion of ACP Membership to include other countries. The overall message from the Report, which received overwhelming support from Members of the European Parliament at the voting session on 31 September 2016, is that the Parliament is in favour of continuing ACP-EU relations beyond 2020.
 
Mr. President
Another initiative that I would like to bring to your attention is that following the historic Paris Agreement adopted in December 2015, the ACP Secretariat has committed €475 million through the Intra-ACP 11th EDF to support ACP regions and countries to implement the provisions contained in the Agreement.  As Intra-ACP resources they are meant to build through complementarity and subsidiarity on regional and national indicative programmes.
 
The world is now preparing for implementation of this agreement through the Marrakesh COP 22 meeting scheduled to take place from 7 to 18 November 2016. In preparation for the COP 22, the ACP Secretariat has hosted a number of high level meetings such as the 6th Special Session of the African Ministerial Conference on Environment that was held from 16 to 19 April 2016, the CARICOM climate change negotiators and ministerial preparatory meeting held in Grenada from 5 to 7 September 2016 and the 47th Pacific Island Forum Leaders meetings held in the Federated States of Micronesia from 7 to 11 September 2016.
Additionally, various regional dialogues have taken place including the African Ambassadors meeting in Rabat Morocco on 31 August 2016 and the 27th Meeting of Officials of the Pacific Island Member Countries hosted by the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme in Niue from 19 to 22 September 2016.
 
The ACP hosted a stakeholders preparatory meeting which included Representatives from AU, G77 and China, AOSIS and regional organizations.  The meeting examined an issues paper which is pivotal for core principles and themes to promote an enlarge coalition of interest to promote the 2015 Agreement.
 
In this regard, I am pleased to note that one of the ACP Member States, Fiji, was the first to ratify the Agreement. The European Parliament recently voted to ratify the Paris Agreement, which means that the required 55% of countries and the threshold of 55% greenhouse gas emissions will have been met for the Paris Agreement to enter into force by the time COP 22 will be taking place. 
 
The ACP believes that an equitable balanced implementation of the Paris Agreement will contribute to the long term plan of reducing the adverse impacts of Climate Change. It is my hope that ACP Member States through this Assembly will be encouraged to work on a collective, inclusive, fair and transparent manner in Marrakech and pledge its full support to ensure that COP22 is a success.
 
Mr. President
I would also like to bring to your attention the recently held summit on Refugees and Migrants at the United Nations General Assembly. I was privileged to attend the Summit, and I took the occasion to articulate our position on how to address migration with a focus on the promotion of safe and legal ways of migration. I emphasised the need for international solidarity to address the drivers of migration be they political, economic, social or environmental. The ACP Group is committed to continue actively engaging on migration through the ACP-EU dialogue on Migration. It is however, imperative for countries to focus on the proximate causes of migration and those factors that trigger or precipitate mass movements, some of which are political in nature.
 
The Summit adopted two global compacts in its Declaration primarily the Global Compact for Refugees and the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly, and Regular Migration which clearly reflect the spirit on which the ACP-EU migration dialogue is based. 
 
Mr. President, Hon. Members, Dear Friends and Comrades,
 
With those pertinent events as part of the Secretariat’s ongoing process for renewal and transformation, your leadership role as parliamentarians is essential for lasting success.
 
As I conclude, I would like to reiterate that your presence in these intercessional meetings speaks of the importance you attach to the wellbeing of the people you represent. I am inspired by a quote from the late Nelson Mandela – What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others.” 
 
Through this august body, and in collaboration with your counterparts in the JPA, decisions are made that affect the course of the lives of our people. It is my hope and wish that with your guidance, we shall together courageously pave the path to making a difference in the lives of many millions in our respective Member States.
 
I thank you for your indulgence and kind attention and wish you successful meetings!
 
 
H.E. Dr. Patrick I. Gomes
Secretary General
 


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