St Lucia PM chides world leaders for failing to adequately respond to climate change

Friday, September 22, 2017

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UNITED NATIONS, United States (CMC) — Prime Minister Allen Chastanet of St Lucia has chided world leaders for what he said was the failure to adequately respond to the effects of climate change.

Chastanet in his presentation at the 72nd session of the General Assembly of the United Nations in New York on Thursday said warnings related to climate change have been made repeatedly by small island developing states.

The prime minister who made reference to hurricanes that recently left a trail of death and destruction across the Caribbean said the lack of response will “betray our children and condemn future generations to certain doom. I daresay that we do not have the luxury to be silent on this front anymore – we must act.”

He said the challenges of climate change are profound.

“What is fast becoming the “new normal” is the intensification of extreme weather events, which demands from us real solutions in real time. No longer can we depend on old mechanisms with dense bureaucracies that delay or limit a nation's ability to safeguard its citizens during a crisis and slow the rebuilding effort.”

He added that his own country and the other member states of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), are anchored at “the heart of the hurricane alley, with our people on the front line, and too often the first to endure the ravages of Mother nature's fury when the storms come off the Atlantic Ocean”

The prime minister said the Caribbean countries are looking to the world for leadership and partnership and thanked the governments of France, China and Germany for their leadership on climate change issues.

However Chastanet pointed to the resilience of the peoples of the Caribbean even in the midst of challenges.

“Our Nobel Laureate Sir Derek Walcott speaks to the sense of responsibility to one's neighbour that is rooted in our cultural DNA and the imperative of helping. Not out of a sense of duty but out of a sense of community. This Mr President was most poignantly exemplified by Premier Dr Orlando Smith of the British Virgin Islands as Dominica faced the imminent threat of Hurricane Maria. Dr Smith whose own island had already been brutalized by hurricane Irma offered his unwavering support to Prime Minister Skerritt of Dominica. Even in our destitution we in the Caribbean open our hearts and means to those in need.”

The prime minister urged the world leaders to revisit what he called “lofty goals” – “as we see inequity as the heart of all of our discussions and seek to address it.”

According to Chatanet, all multilateral discussions on development, on resilience and the sustainable development of our countries – be equitable and just.

He added that the UN does not succeed when few do well and a growing many do not.

“How can we, as leaders talk about sustainable development goals when the people of our countries are stuck in a quagmire, every day struggling to survive? Fundamentally, our global reality is an increasingly integrated one. No one is spared the perils of the convulsions in our world.”

The prime minister said that any overhaul of the UN system must be founded the principle of equity without and gave St Lucia's support in efforts to reform the UN to address a new era of responsibility.

“We must come here to make a difference and not get carried away by name calling but instead, ground our discourse in common respect and a commitment to deliver to those we lead.”

Chastanet also urged his colleagues to examine how countries are categorized and rated by the development and donor communities.

“How can we call a country a middle income one today based on its per capita GDP (Gross Domestic Product), when we know that its location means it likely that at some point within a decade or two, it will be impacted by a natural disaster which will bring it and its people to their knees.”

“It is unconscionable to see our peers have to beg and plead for goodwill, and to have to depend on commercial rates to rebuild broken economies – all because the traditional system is so unyielding, archaic in its design, and at times heartless.”

He said the model must be changed to one that allows small and developing nations the real opportunity to survive and thrive in an increasingly cold global environment.

“The model has to change to allow us all the opportunity to build back stronger and more resilient, the infrastructure that can secure our futures and that of our people,” he said.

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