APIA, Samoa -- The Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) and other small island developing states (SIDS) have called on countries that are signatories to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases because of increasing concerns about the impact of climate change.
At least three OECS member states addressed the International conference on Small Island Developing States in Samoa from September 1 to 4, 2014, on the urgent need for sufficient special attention regarding the impact of climate change.
Dr James Fletcher
Dr James Fletcher, Saint Lucia’s minister for sustainable development, suggested that the apparent eagerness of some to prematurely graduate some SIDS to middle income status is among many factors that have impacted negatively on the approach by the community of island nations to address several challenges.
The new status, he said, was based on outmoded criteria that are out of step with empirical studies on vulnerability and resilience.
Fletcher also linked the delayed progress in dealing with challenges confronting SIDS to other factors including prolonged economic recession; dwindling support and the failure of key partners to fulfil pledges to scale up climate finance.
Fletcher expressed his disappointment over the lack of assistance, the seeming nonchalance of developed countries on reducing carbon emissions, and the disadvantage to SIDS of being labelled “middle income.”
Grenada’s Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell said the impact of climate change has become so apparent that sustainable economic development has taken on a new meaning and a new urgency. He said that in small island states economic development can be unsustainable when climate change shatters years of development leaving many islands highly indebted.
On the issue of growth, Mitchell pointed to the need to consider the trillion dollar renewable energy market which could resuscitate the struggling economies of the region which currently spend significantly on fossil fuels.
Mitchell added that given the high cost for electricity the island states are ideal for introducing renewable energies. He suggested the need to transform climate crises into climate opportunities.
St Kitts and Nevis’ Prime Minister Dr Denzil Douglas called on the international community to recognise the special circumstances of SIDs and for stronger partnerships to fight climate change by building resilience to economic and environmental shocks.
The member states are also of the view that along with climate change, extreme weather events and flailing economies, there are a myriad of other issues that require urgent and focused attention, among them, non-communicable and emerging diseases that place a strain on health systems.
The international conference, which follows two previous sittings in Barbados in 1994 and Mauritius in 2005, sought to focus the attention of the international community on the peculiar circumstances of SIDs, and the need for appropriate measures to to overcome these challenges. Special emphasis is being placed on strengthening existing partnerships and the building of new effective ones to ensure the sustainable development of SIDs.
The OECS Commission's director general, who is also part of the meeting, met with key international agencies and held bilateral talks on OECS collaboration with the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation FAO. The director general also held talks with the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) team at the SIDS meeting for coordinating issues of regional interest.