Greater OAS role for Caribbean private sector
Caribbean private sector representatives need to play a greater role within the Organization of American States (OAS).
That was the consensus reached at a recent special meeting hosted by the OAS permanent council, during which officials discussed the topic The Americas In The Changing Global Economic Scenario: The Value Of Public-Private Partnerships.
The talks were attended by leading private sector figures from across the region.
The permanent council chair and permanent representative of Antigua and Barbuda to the OAS, Deborah-Mae Lovell, told meeting participants that in recent years the OAS “has initiated efforts to facilitate constructive dialogue with key partners in the Americas, including civil society and the private sector”.
“We have witnessed increased support from business leaders and entrepreneurs for OAS projects and initiatives which benefit vulnerable groups and we have engaged in meaningful dialogue at the private sector fora of both the OAS General Assemblies and the Summits of the Americas,” she noted.
Lovell said despite the economic growth of recent years experts expected a complex economic outlook and believed some achievements in social inclusion could be jeopardized. The official said it was therefore “more important than ever that governments hear the perspectives of the private sector representatives of the [Western] Hemisphere”.
OAS assistant secretary general Albert Ramdin recalled that since 2006 the organization’s mandate included promoting the economic well-being of its member states in addition to its primary focus on democracy.
“The organization has recognized that economic well-being cannot solely be the responsibility of the states. Rather, governments, civil society, public and private sectors must work together to promote economic growth which supports stability, democracy and progress,” he said.
“While we are facing new challenges, we must find new solutions. These new solutions will come from new visions, partnerships and new actions.
I believe we must be willing to engage with new partners in a transparent environment which facilitates mutual respect.
“We are all looking for the same purpose: a prosperous, stable and peaceful society, and what we’re doing here is analyzing how to establish a relationship between the various stakeholders to achieve that goal,” Ramdin added.
United States Chamber of Commerce vice president for the Americas Jodi Bond, spoke of the structure of the entity and the way it works with the governments of the Hemisphere, noting that it played an important role.
“Our vision is focused on a community of socially and environmentally responsible businesses that save, invest, create jobs and encourage broad prosperity in the region and the world,” she said.
Bond added that from the chamber’s perspective the main challenges facing the hemisphere related to the high costs of transporting goods across borders and communications infrastructure, something which could be improved “if we have an appropriate legal and regulatory framework involving the private sector in mobilizing resources”.
At the meeting president of the UN Global Pact, Diego de la Torre, discussed the evolving role of the private sector and entrepreneurship in pursuit of economic and social development, asserting that “with the end of the Cold War we moved ahead in the concept that the entrepreneurs are part of the solution”.
In this regard, he said the private sector could contribute on issues such as the creation of wealth and its equitable distribution and pointed to the need to overcome existing stereotypes regarding the goals and mission of the private sector, governments and civil society to ensure that all work together to achieve solutions and form alliances.
He also said it was important to promote institutionalization, formalization to combat criminality, corporate social responsibility and awareness of the importance of “laying bridges so that employers can be architects in building a better world.”
Attending the meeting were representatives from a number of countries including Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Jamaica, Guyana, Mexico, Panama, Chile, the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Costa Rica, Brazil, Canada, the United States, Nicaragua and Colombia. (SC)