(PRESS RELEASE) — Small islands are on the front lines of the climate change fight and time is against us. That was the strong and pointed message delivered by Saint Lucia’s Prime Minister Allen M. Chastanet as he addressed the Climate Action Summit held at the United Nations on Monday.
The prime minister demanded that nations that are the highest contributors to the crisis, finally put their words into action.
“We are currently in a hurricane season and nine months away from another hurricane season and yet our voice is not heard,” Prime Minister Chastanet, also current CARICOM chairman, told the room filled with world leaders.
The prime minister referred to the lack of access to adaption funds that would allow small islands to build resilience.
“We have said repeatedly that the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) needs to change the way they classify developing countries and we are asking them to adopt the vulnerability index that was established by the Commonwealth. There needs to be a dedicated fund,” he stated, while added that the rules that govern the fund must reflect the urgency of the situation.
“Please allow the SIDS (Small Island Developing States) to build the adaption that is required in order for us to deal with all the issues we have to deal with. There is a new cost of these hurricanes and that is refugees,” noted the prime minister, adding that the situation in the Bahamas is a clear example, as thousands of people have to be evacuated before the country can rebuild.
“Who is going to sustain the people? What jobs are they going to have? These are the practical realities that we are dealing with. We don’t have the luxury of time. We are your incubator,” he said.
Prime Minister Chastanet has maintained that investment in climate action, especially for adaptation and resilience building, provides benefits not only to SIDS but to the global community at large, as we collectively learn how best to protect our people in face of the worsening climate crisis.
“Climate Change does not discriminate,” he reminded the UN delegates. “It has started with us but it is soon coming to your doorsteps. Allow the SIDS to be that lab to figure out how we are going to deal with this climate change issue. Through our solutions, you will also be helping yourself in the future.”
The prime minister thanked the UN secretary-general for championing the Climate Summit and the support given in advancing the ECLAC debt-for-climate adaptation-swap initiative.
The SIDS panel for the Climate Summit included Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley, Palau President Tommy Esang Remengesau Jr., Maldives President Imbrahim Mohammed Soli and Director General of the International Renewable Energy Agency, Franceso LaCamera.
Following the Climate Change Summit, the prime minister took part in the World Economic Forum Sustainable Development Impact Summit 2019.