September 22, 2020

Gonsalves describes St Vincent as “disaster prone” in climate change seminar opening remarks


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From caribbean360

ralph-gonsalves-7401KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent, Wednesday September 17, 2014, CMC – St. Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves has called on the sub-regional organization of Eastern Caribbean States () to develop measures that would allow the countries to adapt and strengthen their resilience to climate change.

Addressing the seminar organized by the St. Lucia-based OECS Commission, Gonsalves said the region needed to take “more seriously” the impact of climate change on its socio-economic development.

He described St. Vincent and the Grenadines as a “disaster prone” country, adding “we need to adapt, strengthen our resilience to mitigate, we need to reduce risk to human and natural assets resulting from climate change.

“This is an issue however which we alone cannot address. The world is a small place and we contribute very little to global warming but yet we are on the front lines of continuing disasters,” he said, telling delegates at Tuesday night’s formal opening “we must build on existing work which has been done and not treat the matter as an academic exercise to traverse the terrain which has already been traversed”.

Gonsalves said there were existing studies done by the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) as they relate to the impact of climate change as well as seeking funds and accessing technologies required to undertake “needed mitigation actions and to adapt to adverse impacts of climate change”.

“Cleary within the OECS and the terms of the funding which we have we have to make the most of the money,” he said, adding that despite the generosity of the United States, “we are all aware there is a scarcity of funds for mitigation and adaptation promised by the global community”.

He said while promises of funding were made to Small Island Developing States (SIDS) “if you want to see the litany of our woes in this regard I urge you to go on the relevant websites to see the speeches of prime ministers and ministers of foreign affairs and the environment in Samoa”.

The seminar here will focus on a number of issues including the vulnerability of the region, the economic, social and psychological impacts of extreme events and mainstreaming climate change into national planning.

The OECS Commission said that a major output expected from the seminar, is a portfolio of new ideas for strategies and approaches in managing disaster risks and vulnerabilities, as well as recommendations that will inform policies, plans and programmes for building resilience to extreme events related to climate change.

The Director of Social and Sustainable Development Division at the OECS Commission, says despite the region’s socio-economic development is at risk despite contributing minimally to the climate change situation.

He said Inter-Government Panel on Climate Change report had noted that human interference with the climate system is occurring and would affect various aspects of development.

“There is no doubt on the whole that the impact of climate change on small islands will have serious negative effects especially on socio economic conditions and on physically resources.

“We the people of the Caribbean who have contributed little to the problem of climate change will feel the brunt of the negative impact and will be the first to feel these undesirable impacts.

“As we are all aware our region has a heightened vulnerability to the many economic and environmental pressures that are evolving globally and many of these will pose serious challenges to our social and economic development,” Browne told the seminar that is being attended by more than 80 delegates representing private entities and government agencies who work in climate sensitive sectors.

The two-day seminar is being held as part of the OECS/USAID RRACC Project – a five-year developmental project that was launched in 2011 to assist OECS governments with building resilience through the implementation of climate change adaptation measures.

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