‘Overwhelmed by old challenges’, Caribbean leaders say COVID-19 has forced a new battle for the survival of their nations

3 weeks ago 24
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Saint Lucia: A near-impossible balancing act 

Philip Joseph Pierre, Prime Minister and Minister for Finance, Economic Development and Youth Economy of Saint Lucia, said his nation suffers from serious challenges due to its tiny size and vulnerability to earthy disasters and clime change. While struggling to find solutions for those existing problems, Saint Lucia was hit with COVID-19.  

“We are present being inundated by the new, portion inactive being overwhelmed by the old,” he stated in his pre-recorded code to the annual high-level debate of the UN General Assembly.  

The pandemic forced past year’s statement to beryllium held astir wholly virtually, but the 2021 league is being held successful a hybrid format, combining in-person and virtual participation. 

Mr. Pierre said small land nations similar Saint Lucia “continue to contend with the near-impossible balancing enactment of preserving lives and livelihoods” amid the insidious twists and turns of the coronavirus pandemic. 

This includes pushing back against misinformation about the virus and what helium called “vaccine apartheid” that has seen immoderate countries stockpile vaccines, “while other countries ticker helplessly arsenic COVID-related deaths proceed to emergence for privation of a jab.”  

At the aforesaid time, Mr. Pierre said the pandemic “seems to have slowed down everything but the deterioration of our beloved satellite earth.” COVID-19 grabs the headlines, “but it is simply a information that the pandemic emerged astatine a clip erstwhile the world was already connected an unsustainable way to achieve  the 2030 [Development] Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)”. 

With little than a decennary near to execute the 2030 Agenda, the Prime Minister noted that the UN Decade of Action requires urgent solutions towards “salvaging our planetary surviving quarters”.  

“It tin beryllium argued that the COVID-19 pandemic and the clime alteration situation face america with an intermeshed occupation of grounds arsenic origin and origin arsenic symptom”, helium said. “It provides america with a harsh and timely reminder that human wellness and planetary wellness are linked”. 

The outgo of gathering these challenges and undertaking health oregon climate resilience activities, is “way beyond” the fiscal scope of tiny islands, helium lamented. As such, helium appealed for contributions towards betterment efforts and for each nations to wage their commitments to the Adaptation and Mitigation Funds. 

Full statement here. 

Bahamas: Raise ambitions astatine COP26

Prime Minister of the Bahamas, Phillip Edward Davis, also called for equitable organisation of vaccines, including to tiny land processing States, which are not manufacturers. “It is besides important to marque harmless treatments and therapeutics accessible and to designate them arsenic nationalist goods,” helium added.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has made abundantly wide what galore of america person ever known to beryllium true: we are each successful this together,” helium told the Assembly successful his in-person address.

“We indispensable collaborate to extremity the COVID-19 pandemic and code nationalist wellness issues. We indispensable cooperate to mitigate the effects of clime change. Access to improvement financing indispensable beryllium capable and fair. Lagging effect connected immoderate of these issues volition person dire consequences for the planetary economy,” the Prime Minister said.

Even arsenic his state was dealing with the interaction of the coronavirus pandemic, the Prime Minister reminded the Assembly that conscionable 2 years ago this month, the Bahamas had been devastated by Hurricane Dorian, one of the strongest storms ever recorded successful the Atlantic, “and the carnal and affectional wreckage are inactive with us.”

He lamented his country’s consciousness of foreboding successful the aftermath of the storm, saying: “Every rainfall is simply a reminder of the horror. How tin we proceed to bash thing successful the look of specified tragedy?” To immoderate person who inactive believed determination was capable clip to code clime change, helium said “I invitation you to sojourn Abaco and Grand Bahama,” wherever the devastation wrought by Dorian is present portion of the country’s landscape.

“So, we are not present to telephone for measured steps. We are present to accidental that big, extremist alteration is the lone effect that tin prevention our country. We are retired of time,” Mr. Davis declared, urging states to rise their ambitions and marque existent commitments to chopped emissions astatine COP26 successful Glasgow. “We don’t privation that league to beryllium similar the preceding 25,” helium said, calling for states “not to hold to the aforesaid promises that won’t beryllium kept.”

There indispensable beryllium “real advancement connected bridging the gaps successful concern and entree to exertion and skills,” particularly successful the areas of clime mitigation and adaptation, helium said, emphasizing the request for much innovative financing and indebtedness solutions, including for clime adaptation swaps.

 He went connected to constituent retired the expanding spread successful planetary financing for gathering the  SDGs by 2030, estimated astatine $2.5 trillion successful 2019, and reiterated his country’s enactment for the inclusion of a multidimensional vulnerability scale successful the decision-making of planetary fiscal institutions and the planetary donor community. 

Antigua and Barbuda: Vaccine equity is a global good 

Like his Bahamian counterpart, the Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, Gaston A. Browne, besides concentrated his code connected the pandemic and clime change, which helium called “the 2 overarching issues that face mankind”.

Beginning with COVID-19, helium echoed others who spoke of the deficiency of a coherent effect to ending the crisis, including vaccine inequity.

He stressed that processing countries were not seeking handouts, and galore had paid into a planetary strategy that promised aboriginal entree to vaccines, however, “selfish nationalism” forced galore to trust connected “vaccine charity.”

“No state wanted to beg for vaccines…we were acceptable to pay”, said Prime Minister Browne, yet astir jabs manufactured by large pharmaceutical companies were bought oregon contracted and “hoarded by a fewer affluent nations”.

If, astatine the onset of the pandemic, processing countries had been fixed entree to due COVID-19 vaccines and aesculapian supplies, “globally, we would beryllium successful a amended place”, helium asserted.

Calling inoculation discrimination, “wrong, unjust, and patently unfair”, Mr. Browne& advocated for equitable vaccine organisation astatine affordable prices and little costly COVID testing.

“Vaccines are a planetary good; they should not beryllium a commodity for nett astatine the disbursal of quality life”, helium said.

Noting that clime alteration has already had catastrophic consequences connected immoderate tiny land States, the Prime Minister called for “global solidarity and steadfast commitments” to trim planetary temperatures beneath 1.5 degrees and supply prime financing and clime technologies “to prevention our planet”.

Pointing retired that industrialized countries person an work to assistance the States astir affected by clime alteration due to the fact that “they created a occupation successful the archetypal instance”, Mr. Browne signalled that the improvement backing assistance for tiny islands processing States should not beryllium seen arsenic a acquisition oregon foundation but “as a signifier of clime reparations to compensate for past clime damage”.

Full statement here. 

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