August 14, 2022

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

Saint Lucia: A near-impossible balancing act 

Philip Joseph Pierre, Prime Minister and Minister for Finance, Economic Development and Youth Economy of Saint Lucia, stated his nation suffers from critical challenges as a result of its small measurement and vulnerability to pure disasters and local weather change. While struggling to discover options for these present issues, Saint Lucia was hit with COVID-19.  

“We are now being inundated by the new, while still being overwhelmed by the old,” he acknowledged in his pre-recorded deal with to the annual high-level debate of the UN General Assembly.  

The pandemic compelled final 12 months’s debate to be held nearly fully just about, however the 2021 session is being held in a hybrid format, combining in-person and digital participation. 

Mr. Pierre stated small island nations like Saint Lucia “continue to contend with the near-impossible balancing act of preserving lives and livelihoods” amid the insidious twists and turns of the coronavirus pandemic. 

This contains pushing again towards misinformation concerning the virus and what he known as “vaccine apartheid” that has seen some international locations stockpile vaccines, “while other countries watch helplessly as COVID-related deaths continue to rise for want of a jab.”  

At the identical time, Mr. Pierre stated the pandemic “seems to have slowed down everything but the deterioration of our beloved planet earth.” COVID-19 grabs the headlines, “but it is a fact that the pandemic emerged at a time when the world was already on an unsustainable path to achieve  the 2030 [Development] Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)”. 

With lower than a decade left to realize the 2030 Agenda, the Prime Minister famous that the UN Decade of Action requires pressing options in direction of “salvaging our global living quarters”.  

“It can be argued that the COVID-19 pandemic and the climate change challenge confront us with an intermeshed problem of symptom as cause and cause as symptom”, he stated. “It provides us with a harsh and timely reminder that human health and planetary health are linked”. 

The value of assembly these challenges and enterprise well being or local weather resilience actions, is “way beyond” the monetary attain of small islands, he lamented. As such, he appealed for contributions in direction of restoration efforts and for all nations to pay their commitments to the Adaptation and Mitigation Funds. 

Full assertion here. 

Bahamas: Raise ambitions at COP26

Prime Minister of the Bahamas, Phillip Edward Davis, additionally known as for equitable distribution of vaccines, together with to small island creating States, which aren’t producers. “It is also important to make safe treatments and therapeutics accessible and to designate them as public goods,” he added.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has made abundantly clear what many of us have always known to be true: we are all in this together,” he advised the Assembly in his in-person deal with.

“We must collaborate to end the COVID-19 pandemic and address public health issues. We must cooperate to mitigate the effects of climate change. Access to development financing must be adequate and fair. Lagging response on any of these issues will have dire consequences for the global economy,” the Prime Minister stated.

Even as his nation was coping with the impression of the coronavirus pandemic, the Prime Minister reminded the Assembly that simply two years in the past this month, the Bahamas had been devastated by Hurricane Dorian, one of many strongest storms ever recorded within the Atlantic, “and the physical and emotional wreckage are still with us.”

He lamented his nation’s sense of foreboding within the wake of the storm, saying: “Every rainfall is a reminder of the horror. How can we continue to do nothing in the face of such tragedy?” To any chief who nonetheless believed there was sufficient time to handle local weather change, he stated “I invite you to visit Abaco and Grand Bahama,” the place the devastation wrought by Dorian is now a part of the nation’s panorama.

“So, we are not here to call for measured steps. We are here to say that big, radical change is the only response that can save our country. We are out of time,” Mr. Davis declared, urging states to boost their ambitions and make actual commitments to chop emissions at COP26 in Glasgow. “We don’t want that conference to be like the preceding 25,” he stated, calling for states “not to agree to the same promises that won’t be kept.”

There should be “real progress on bridging the gaps in investment and access to technology and skills,” particularly within the areas of local weather mitigation and adaptation, he stated, emphasizing the necessity for extra modern financing and debt options, together with for local weather adaptation swaps.

 He went on to level out the growing hole in international financing for assembly the  SDGs by 2030, estimated at $2.5 trillion in 2019, and reiterated his nation’s help for the inclusion of a multidimensional vulnerability index within the decision-making of worldwide monetary establishments and the worldwide donor group. 

Antigua and Barbuda: Vaccine fairness is a international good 

Like his Bahamian counterpart, the Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, Gaston A. Browne, additionally concentrated his deal with on the pandemic and local weather change, which he known as “the two overarching issues that confront mankind”.

Beginning with COVID-19, he echoed others who spoke of the shortage of a coherent response to ending the disaster, together with vaccine inequity.

He careworn that creating international locations weren’t in search of handouts, and plenty of had paid into a world system that promised early entry to vaccines, nonetheless, “selfish nationalism” compelled many to depend on “vaccine charity.”

“No country wanted to beg for vaccines…we were ready to pay”, stated Prime Minister Browne, but most jabs manufactured by main pharmaceutical firms have been purchased or contracted and “hoarded by a few wealthy nations”.

If, on the onset of the pandemic, creating international locations had been given entry to correct COVID-19 vaccines and medical provides, “globally, we would be in a better place”, he asserted.

Calling inoculation discrimination, “wrong, unjust, and patently unfair”, Mr. Browne& advocated for equitable vaccine distribution at reasonably priced costs and cheaper COVID testing.

“Vaccines are a global good; they should not be a commodity for profit at the expense of human life”, he stated.

Noting that local weather change has already had catastrophic penalties on some small island States, the Prime Minister known as for “global solidarity and firm commitments” to scale back international temperatures beneath 1.5 levels and supply high quality financing and local weather applied sciences “to save our planet”.

Pointing out that industrialized international locations have an obligation to help the States most affected by local weather change as a result of “they created a problem in the first instance”, Mr. Browne signalled that the event funding help for small islands creating States shouldn’t be seen as a present or charity however “as a form of climate reparations to compensate for past climate damage”.

Full assertion here. 

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