Ocean Action Hub

13 Sept 2019 - Small island nations are calling for global help to cope with the climate crisis unfolding in their backyard, as their ability to respond is curtailed by lack of finance.

Small island developing states (SIDS) need urgent help. After a visit to Abaco and Grand Bahama in the Caribbean last week, Saint Lucia’s Prime Minister, Allen Chastanet, returned to deliver a keynote address at the United Nations’ European headquarters in Geneva to open the first United Nations Trade Forum on 9 September.

His message: “Our extinction is imminent.”

“The climate crisis has taken away from us the ability to control our own destiny,” Mr. Chastanet told a gathering of the trade and international community.

“There are not many more storms that we can sustain and remain viable. Therefore, the urgency is now for us to be able to build resilience.”

He emphasized that the world needs to decide whether they want SIDS to exist and to offer an investment to match it.

“What am I speaking about is drains, rivers, and bridges. These are civil engineering matters; it is not going to the moon. This (investment) is not, in relative terms, a huge amount of money, but relative to the size of our economies, for us it is a mountain too far. I speak to you as a human to say the SIDS need your help.”

“Climate change is not our responsibility. The SIDS represent less than 1% of global emissions. We can’t control our destiny through mitigation. The fact is, the only thing available to us is adaptation,” Mr. Chastanet said.

Adaptation costs money. Under the Paris Agreement on climate, countries have committed to jointly mobilizing US$100 billion per year by 2020 to address the needs of developing countries, including SIDS.

But this funding has not yet reached the SIDS, said Mr. Chastanet.

To mobilize the required billions to help SIDS survive the climate emergency, Mr. Chastanet called for both a revisioning of the classification of SIDS using a vulnerability index and a type of Marshall Plan.

He was joined by fellow island representatives from the Maldives and Jamaica, and the climate and trade community on the opening day of a weeklong forum.

Forum participants explored the linkages between trade, climate change, oceans economy and biodiversity. They exchanged innovative ideas and approaches on how global trade policies may support the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

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Publication date: 
13/09/2019
Publication Organisation: 
UNCTAD
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UNCTAD
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