The unified strength of the Caribbean Community (Caricom) has enabled it to surmount challenges posed over the past 44 years of regional integration.This declaration was made by the Caricom Secretary-General, Ambassador Irwin LaRocque, while he urged the Community Council of Ministers to use those weapons to forge ahead.(l-r) Caricom Secretary-General, Ambassador Irwin LaRocque; Haiti’s Foreign Minister and Chairman of the Council of Ministers, Antonio Rodrigue; and Caricom Deputy Secretary-General, Ambassador Manorma SoeknandanCaricom’s second highest organ held its 41st meeting at its Liliendaal, Greater Georgetown Headquarters on Monday to discuss the provisional list of items for the agenda of the 29th Inter-sessional Meeting of Heads of Government, which will be held in Haiti on February 26-27. The meeting was chaired by His Excellency Antonio Rodrigue, Minister of Foreign and Religious Affairs of Haiti.“Let us once again engage those weapons as we strive to ensure that, in our 45th year, integration continues to be the vehicle to provide sustained development and a secure, prosperous and viable Caribbean Community for all our peoples,” Secretary-General LaRocque admonished.He said the pressing issue of crime and violence — given the gravity of the situation faced by many member states — as well as disaster management and preparedness are among the items proposed for the Heads’ Meeting agenda.The SG reminded the Council that the discussions were being undertaken against the background of recovery efforts within the countries that suffered the terrible devastation of hurricanes Irma and Maria. Unified strength, he said, was evident in the relief effort galvanised by the Governments and peoples of the region in response to those disasters.Members of the Community Council of Ministers at its 41st meeting held on Monday at Caricom Headquarters“Our member states rallied around the stricken countries and rendered yeoman service in the aftermath of the disasters. Our institutions, well led by the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) in close collaboration with the Secretariat, also delivered in support of the recovery efforts. The international community also made a sterling contribution,” he noted.Ambassador LaRocque went on to quote Prime Minister Minnis of The Bahamas, who had stated, “Sadly, the economic, environmental, social and psychological damage will remain for quite some time”. He added that the reality is that storms would be more frequent and intense as extreme climatic events become the new normal, as we are living with climate change.The Community’s main focuses, therefore, he added, are rebuilding and, critically, “on preparing for the others that are sure to come.”To this end, he noted that as a matter of urgency and as advocated in the Community’s Strategic Plan, efforts must be engineered to “build a resilient Community in all facets: economically, socially, environmentally and technologically.”As the Community forges ahead with reconstruction, the Secretary-General urged, regional and national programmes must be implemented to transform it into the world’s first climate-resilient region.