In a press release dated May 21, 2008, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretary General, Mr. Edwin Carrington, called on the Community to respect and promote the principles of cultural diversity and to ensure that the Community is a place built on mutual understanding and respect for all cultures.
In a message on the occasion of World Day for Cultural Diversity (May 21, 2008), Secretary General Carrington acknowledged the key role of cultural understanding, cooperation, and awareness to the effective implementation of the Community’s flagship programme, the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME), asserting that “the foundation of our regionalism is located in the common historical and cultural heritage of the Caribbean.”
According to the Secretary General, the promotion of cultural diversity, safeguarding cultural heritage, and development of creative industries are priority areas in CARICOM.
“Culture is central to building a sense of community, of ensuring that the people of the region feel connected and ‘intensely Caribbean,’ and forging a regional identity,” the CARICOM Secretary General opined.
Carrington acknowledged the need for the Community to create opportunities for the full development of the creativity of its young people, noting that this was central to the development of the region’s culture agenda.
“Youth must be engaged both because they are primary producers and consumers of culture and also as a strategy for diverting youthful energy into positive avenues and away from risky behavior,” Carrington stated.
He pointed to the Caribbean Festival of Arts (CARIFESTA) as one vehicle that presented excellent opportunities for youth engagement and exposure and further called on the Community to support the tenth staging of the region’s premier cultural festival, which is slated to take place August 22– 31 in Guyana.
The CARICOM Secretary General also acknowledged the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) for taking the lead in observing May 21, as World Day for Cultural Diversity in accordance with the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions.