Brussels, 2 March 2015/ ACP: The Secretary General of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States Dr. Patrick Gomes outlined his vision for the organisation in his maiden address to the ACP Committee of Ambassadors, since taking office on 1st March 2015.

Dr. Gomes will hold the post for a five-year term, which marks a critical period for the 79-member ACP Group as it reviews its future with the aim of enhancing its relevance and effectiveness in the post-2015 era.

“A distinctive and defining feature of the 2015-2020 administration, and a critical challenge to engage the energy and political savvy of the ACP Group, as a whole, must be the effective mechanism and modalities by which to participate in diversified partnerships across the Global South by 2020,” stated the Secretary General. (Read full speech)

This entails a stepped approach to reaching ambitious targets, including enhanced relations for joint policy analysis and capacity development cooperation with chapters of the G77 + China, observer status with the BRICS and similar trans-regional groups, as well as closer collaboration with United Nations agencies.

“Our approach nonetheless will be strategic and an appropriate sequencing of actions will be undertaken to ensure cumulative impact. This requires a Strategic Plan 2015-2018,” he said.

The plan will take into account the guidelines and road map contained in the Final Report of the Working Group on Future Perspectives, which was approved by the Council of Ministers in December 2014.

It will also address the need to mobilise funds and ensure financial sustainability of the institution. Dr. Gomes said that a special task force was being considered to look into the setup of an “Endowment and Long-term Development Fund.”

He stressed the urgency of holding the 8th Summit of ACP Heads of States and Government to give political impetus to the recommendations on the future of the Group:

“That Summit must be a beacon that refines our strategic policy for a decade 2020-2030… in the engagement with the European Union [and] provide the narrative and firm moral and financial commitment.”

Recognising the significant membership of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in the ACP Group – including 37 member countries – the Secretary General also called for the establishment of a permanent forum on SIDS within the Group.

The Chairman of the ACP Committee of Ambassadors, H.E Roy Mickey Joy of Vanuatu expressed the hope and confidence of member delegations in Dr. Gomes’ leadership. He highlighted several of Dr. Gomes’ successes while serving as Ambassador of Guyana, such as convening the first ACP international symposium on South-South cooperation in collaboration with the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie (OIF); leading the efforts to revise the official Vision, Mission and Core Values of the ACP Group; and finalising a common flag and anthem.

“Your appointment comes at a pivotal stage in the history of our Group… At a time when the international community is engaged in discussions on the general post-2015, which will be of vital importance for poverty eradication, the ACP Group must continue to pay special attend to the upcoming UN conference on this issue in September 2015,” said Ambassador Joy.

ACP Group, which celebrates its 40th anniversary this year, covers Sub-Saharan Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific, and works towards the eradication of poverty and promotion of sustainable economic development in member states, as well as their gradual, beneficial integration into the global economic system, leading to a more equitable world order.

Almost all members are signatories to an overarching partnership framework between the ACP Group and the European Union, which facilitates cooperation in the areas of development finance [including EUR 31.5 billion allocated for ACP countries for the period 2014-2020 under the 11th European Development Fund], trade and political dialogue.

The agreement concludes in 2020, and the nature of future cooperation is under review.

Full inaugural statement of the Secretary General

(Photo above: ACP Secretary General Dr. P.I Gomes and Chair of the Committee of Ambassadors, Ambassador Roy Mickey Joy of Vanuatu)

– ACP Press