A commitment to the eradication of poverty, inequality and exclusion and the promotion of bi-regional cooperation on climate change were the principal outcomes of the Fifth European Union/Latin American Caribbean (LAC) Summit held in Lima, Peru.

Against the backdrop of rising food prices worldwide, government leaders addressed common challenges of poverty and financial equality in their countries, acknowledging meantime both the urgent need for a unified response to the effects of climate change, and the link between climate change and poverty, particularly in small developing states.

Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Hubert Ingraham, accompanied by Minister of State for Finance the Hon. Zhivargo Laing, was among Caribbean Heads taking part in the Lima Summit.

Heads of government reiterated the commitment of their countries to policies for the eradication of hunger and the fight against poverty, agreeing that immediate measures are needed to assist the most vulnerable countries and populations affected by high food prices.

They noted with concern that despite progress achieved, poverty, inequality and exclusion still hinder various sectors of the population from gaining equal access to opportunities to enjoy a dignified and productive life, hinder the well-being of individuals, and encourage the displacement of people.

Heads further indicated that in the medium to longer term, a lasting answer to the
current crisis will require coordinated actions from the international community. In this vein, they committed via their bi-regional partnership, to significantly improve the quality of life of all their peoples.

In their ongoing focus on achieving the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015 and additional targets taken on by LAC countries by the year 2020, the leaders of government committed to formulating and implementing various social policies including the universalizing of preschool education, extending the coverage and quality of secondary and higher education, promoting professional and vocational education, increasing employment rates, establishing labour training programmes and improving housing conditions for the most vulnerable population groups.

The UN Millennium Development Goals ranging from halving extreme poverty to halting the spread of HIV/AIDS and providing universal primary education by the target date of 2015 form, according to the UN, a blueprint agreed to by all the world’s countries and all the world’s leading development institutions to meet the needs of the world’s poorest peoples.

With regard to climate change and sustainable development, Heads reiterated the importance of promoting sustainable development; integrating economic and social development with the protection of the environment in the framework of democracy and the rule of law.

They stressed conviction that the achievement of sustainable development, based on strengthened international cooperation, is a condition for poverty alleviation.

The Leaders encouraged the participation of authorities and civil society to implement environmental policies, sustainable development and best practices.

Stating their determination to reach a conclusion on a comprehensive and global agreed outcome under the Bali Action Plan no later than 2009 to enable the implementation of the UNFCCC through long-term cooperation to 2012 and beyond, Heads said they will seek to facilitate joint initiatives in the area of climate change mitigation and adaptation to its adverse effects, including the strengthening of carbon market mechanisms.

They meantime also affirmed their determination to conclude, in the same timeframe, an ambitious and global agreement for the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol post 2012.

The UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) is an international treaty joined by most UN countries to begin to consider what can be done to reduce global warming and to cope with temperature increases that are inevitable. Recently, a number of nations approved an addition to the treaty: the Kyoto Protocol, which has more powerful and legally binding measures.

The Special Climate Change Fund and the Least Developed Countries Fund under the UNFCCC, as well as the Kyoto Protocol Adaptation Fund and the EU Global Climate Change Alliance, said the Heads, can be instrumental in helping developing countries, particularly Least Developed Countries (LDC) and Small Island Developing States (SIDS), to increase their capacity to adapt to climate change.

Leaders within the EU/LAC committed to work together to promote initiatives in their regions to prevent, reduce and/or counterbalance greenhouse gas emissions and exchange experiences and deepen dialogue on sustainable development policies that take into account the need for economic growth and environmental protection.

They also committed to work together for the strengthening of social inclusion, and the strengthening of linkages among existing regional and national initiatives in the field of climate change.