Saint Lucia: A near-impossible balancing act
Philip Joseph Pierre, chief Minister and Minister for Finance, Economic Development and Youth Economy of Saint Lucia, said his nation suffers from serious challenges due to its small size and vulnerability to natural disasters and climate change. While struggling to find solutions for those existing problems, Saint Lucia was hit with COVID-19.
“We are now being overwhelmed by the new, while nevertheless being overwhelmed by the old,” he stated in his pre-recorded address to the annual high-level argue of the UN General Assembly.
The pandemic forced last year’s argue to be held almost thoroughly virtually, but the 2021 session is being held in a hybrid format, combining in-person and virtual participation.
Mr. Pierre said small island nations like Saint Lucia “continue to continue with the near-impossible balancing act 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 he called “vaccine apartheid” that has seen some countries stockpile vaccines, “while other countries watch helplessly as COVID-related deaths continue to rise for want of a jab.”
At the same time, Mr. Pierre said the pandemic “seems to have slowed down everything but the decline 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 unprotected to the 2030 [Development] Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)”.
With less than a decade left to unprotected to the 2030 Agenda, the chief Minister noted that the UN Decade of Action requires urgent solutions towards “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 said. “It provides us with a harsh and timely reminder that human health and planetary health are connected”.
The cost of meeting these challenges and undertaking health or climate resilience activities, is “way beyond” the financial reach of small islands, he lamented. As such, he appealed for contributions towards recovery efforts and for all nations to pay their commitments to the Adaptation and Mitigation Funds.
complete statement here.
Bahamas: Raise ambitions at COP26
chief Minister of the Bahamas, Phillip Edward Davis, also called for equitable dispensing of vaccines, including to small island developing States, which are not manufacturers. “It is also important to make safe treatments and therapeutics easy to reach and to designate them as public goods,” he additional.
“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 told the Assembly in his in-person address.
“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 chief Minister said.
already as his country was dealing with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, the chief Minister reminded the Assembly that just two years ago this month, the Bahamas had been devastated by Hurricane Dorian, one of the strongest storms ever recorded in the Atlantic, “and the physical and emotional wreckage are nevertheless with us.”
He lamented his country’s sense of foreboding in the wake of the storm, saying: “Every rainfall is a reminder of the horror. How can we continue to do nothing in the confront of such tragedy?” To any leader who nevertheless believed there was enough time to address climate change, he said “I invite you to visit Abaco and Grand Bahama,” where the devastation wrought by Dorian is now part of the country’s scenery.
“So, we are not here to call for measured steps. We are here to say that big, extreme change is the only response that can save our country. We are out of time,” Mr. Davis declared, urging states to raise their ambitions and make real commitments to cut emissions at COP26 in Glasgow. “We don’t want that conference to be like the preceding 25,” he said, calling for states “not to agree to the same promises that won’t be kept.”
There must be “real progress on bridging the gaps in investment and access to technology and skills,” especially in the areas of climate mitigation and adaptation, he said, emphasizing the need for more inventive financing and debt solutions, including for climate adaptation swaps.
He went on to point out the increasing gap in global financing for meeting the SDGs by 2030, estimated at $2.5 trillion in 2019, and reiterated his country’s sustain for the inclusion of a multidimensional vulnerability index in the decision-making of international financial institutions and the international donor community.
Antigua and Barbuda: Vaccine equity is a global good
Like his Bahamian style, the chief Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, Gaston A. Browne, also concentrated his address on the pandemic and climate change, which he called “the two overarching issues that confront mankind”.
Beginning with COVID-19, he echoed others who spoke of the without of a logical response to ending the crisis, including vaccine inequity.
He stressed that developing countries were not seeking handouts, and many had paid into a global system that promised early access to vaccines, however, “selfish nationalism” forced many to rely on “vaccine charity.”
“No country wanted to beg for vaccines…we were ready to pay”, said chief Minister Browne, however most jabs manufactured by major pharmaceutical companies were bought or contracted and “hoarded by a few wealthy nations”.
If, at the onset of the pandemic, developing countries had been given access to proper COVID-19 vaccines and medical supplies, “globally, we would be in a better place”, he asserted.
Calling inoculation discrimination, “wrong, unjust, and patently unfair”, Mr. Browne& advocated for equitable vaccine dispensing at affordable prices and less expensive COVID testing.
“Vaccines are a global good; they should not be a commodity for profit at the expense of human life”, he said.
Noting that climate change has already had extreme consequences on some small island States, the chief Minister called for “global solidarity and firm commitments” to reduce global temperatures below 1.5 degrees and provide quality financing and climate technologies “to save our planet”.
Pointing out that industrialized countries have an obligation to assist the States most affected by climate change because “they produced a problem in the first example”, Mr. Browne signalled that the development funding assistance for small islands developing States should not be seen as a gift or charity but “as a form of climate reparations to compensate for past climate damage”.
complete statement here.
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