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By Pita Ligaiula in Nairobi, Kenya
Barbados Prime minister Mia Amor Mottley says Loss and Damage cannot simply be a footnote in the documents of the UN Climate Change negotiations - saying it must be real as Africa, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) faces existential threat due to climate change.
Addressing the 9th Summit of ACP Head of States and Government meeting in Nairobi Monday, Mottley said almost all countries are reeling under the impact and effect of the climate crisis.
"The most important for us from our part of the world, and I suspect even here now in Africa and the Pacific, is the climate crisis. In Kenya, your experience with flooding in recent days is just a reinforcement of the existential threat that we all face.
"Today, almost all of our countries are reeling under the impact and effect of the climate crisis. If North-South relations are to have meaning in the 21st century they must be partly defined by justice of the moment and by the recognition that the Warsaw mechanism for Loss and Damage cannot simply be a footnote in the documents of the conferences to settle climate change arrangements. It has to be real.
"We in the region know that we are not the ones who started this but we are on the front lines of the battle and are receiving the damaging consequences of it. The notion of climate refugees is now regrettably part and parcel of our lexicon throughout African, Caribbean and Pacific countries. It’s here, it’s now, it’s not forecasted, and it’s not predicted. Lives are being lost, livelihoods are being destroyed — Dominica, Barbuda and in recent times the Commonwealth of the Bahamas in the Caribbean," Prime Minister Mottley told delegates at the Summit.
Without action, Prime Minister Mottley said government finances are being stressed to breaking points.
"Equally, the cost of insurance has become prohibitive for households and businesses in our part of the world, and we ask: Where shall our economies go, given that most security and contracts require the procurement of insurance on the part of businesses if they are to participate fully in a global integrated economy?. These are the real issues our people are facing on a daily basis, and we would do well to confront them and to advocate their resolution as a matter of urgency.
Now is the day," she stressed.
Prime Minister Mottley has also called for the establishment of a taskforce to look into the issue of insurance.
"I recommend that one of the early actions of the incoming Secretary General should be the urgent establishment of a task force to see how we can resolve these issues, because in many instances scale is required in order for us to be able to turn the corner, particularly with respect to the difficult issue of insurance.
"I also ask us to consider the vexing issue for us, namely the vulnerability index. Thirty years ago, we the small states of the world determined that the best mechanism for access and determining access to official assistance or concessional loans ought to be the establishment of a vulnerability index, rather than the raw and crude mechanism of per capita income and Gross Domestic Product.
As a result of the failure to understand and appreciate the inherent vulnerability, we agreed in Cotonou to an arrangement that allowed free trade fully for only those countries that were HIPC (heavily indebted poor countries), a determination made once again on per capita income and GDP. We believe that the myopia reflected in that decision is seen by the extent to which our countries, those middle income countries like the Bahamas, are facing serious restructuring and reconstruction as a result of the hurricanes that have literally brought them to their knees," Mottley said.
For decades, we have said in Barbados, that in spite our high level of development, if a hurricane hits us tomorrow, we will move from dealing with qualitative issues in education to access to basic school places because of the destruction that it will wrought on our society. It is against this background therefore that I ask us to recognise that we cannot continue the process of development as contemplated in the post-Independence era, with the vulnerability that we have in a climate crisis world, without appreciating that there needs to be special mechanisms for financing resilience and adaptation, she said.
Addressing the Summit, outgoing president and Papua New Guinea deputy Prime Minister Davis Steven said any intervention by the Pacific region is incomplete if they do not refer to the climate change crisis.
"I note with great regret the human, natural and economic impacts brought by tropical cyclones in Bahamas, Mozambique and Zimbabwe earlier this year which follows on from other increasingly frequent and intensifying disasters across our ACP regions and countries.
"And I wonder upon the possibilities of the ACP Group working collectively in our engagements to create resilience facilities that ensures that our risks are shared and that we have a shared approach to addressing our development challenges and responses to natural disasters.
"Our vulnerabilities are real and the negative impacts of climate change keep reminding us of how fragile some of our economies are. In the face of these challenges, we still need to invest in our future in a sustainable manner with an in-built resilience," said Steven.
European Union representative responsible for International Partnerships, Commissioner Jutta Urpilainen told the leaders’ Summit that none of us can hide from climate change.
"This is something that our partners in the Carribean and Pacific know only too well. Weather, hazards are becoming ever more frequent and severe. For some rising sea levels are putting their very existence at risk.
"We cannot simply stand by and let tragedies strike. We need to act now. We cannot win the fight alone that is why our partnership with all of you is crucial to make this planet secure and sustainable for generation to come," she said.
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