Mia Amor Mottley
**FILE** Barbados Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley addresses the 73rd session of the General Assembly at the United Nations in New York on September 28, 2018. (Photo by Angela Weiss/AFP/Getty Images)

The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) on Saturday inaugurated its diplomatic office in Nairobi, Kenya, with Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley saying it could become the most important contact between the 15-member bloc and the United Nations.

“I would like to suggest to those here that perhaps, more than any other location — more than Geneva, more than New York — the CARICOM representation in Nairobi is going to be the one that is going to have the greatest impact in how our nations function, how we build, how we trade, how we deal with our food security, and, above all else, how we deal with our water security, because one of the more silent consequences of this climate crisis has been on our ground water supply across the region,” Mottley said.

The United Nations Office at Nairobi is one of four major United Nations office sites where numerous different UN agencies have a joint presence. Nairobi is the global headquarters for two UN programs — the UN Environmental program and the UN Human Settlements program.

Mottley said CARICOM needs technical support as well as the amplification of the financial development resources, noting the Warsaw Development Mechanism for Loss and Damage as a consequence of climate change.

The mechanism, created in 2013, acknowledges that “loss and damage associated with the adverse effects of climate change includes, and in some cases involves more than, that which can be reduced by adaptation.”

Mottley, however, said that the mechanism was “never given life or flesh, and, therefore, these are some of the real issues that we in the Caribbean Community have come to Nairobi to work and fight for on behalf of our people.”

For CARICOM, “this is not just an optional battle, this is the battle for our very survival as a region,” Mottley said, noting the historic nature of the opening of the diplomatic office here.

She said the event “carries with it a level of emotion that those who have gone before and who gave of their time, their blood, their energy to be able to have the fraternal embrace for a common fight for the betterment of the lives of our people after decades and, in some instances, centuries of exploitation would better appreciate the magnitude of the moment on which we meet today.”

Mottley said that the Caribbean and Africa have been separated not simply by the Atlantic Ocean but also by “centuries of division and exploitation.”

The ceremony was also attended by Monica K. Juma, cabinet secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Kenya; Barbados’ Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jerome X Walcott; his Belizean counterpart, Wilfred Peter Elrington, and other officials from CARICOM and Kenya.

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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