PRESS RELEASE: In a bold speech to the General Debate at the 72nd United Nations General Assembly on Friday September 22nd 2017, Saint Lucia’s Prime Minister Honourable Allen Chastanet, said “for Small Island States like my own in the Caribbean region, the promise of the United Nations is being tested today more than ever.”
The Prime Minister, also Chairman of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), focused first on the current devastation facing the Caribbean and the long road ahead to rebuild for some islands, even as the hurricane season continues.
“I have listened in dismay to the silence of many and the weak acknowledgment by others, on the crisis in our region. It has awakened in me the fear that we may be on our own to chart a path forward for our region,” said PM Chastanet.
For the Prime Minister, the doubters of Climate Change need only look at the fact that in less than a month, “Dominica, Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Cuba, the British Virgin Islands, Anguilla, the Dominican Republic, St. Barts, St. John, St. Thomas, the Turks and Caicos, St Maarten, St. Martin, Puerto Rico, Texas and Florida, have all been victim to the ravages of hurricanes that have left death and carnage in their wake. The impact has been without discrimination.”
Speaking further on the issue of Climate Change, Prime Minister Chastanet said: “Let us acknowledge the fact that Small Island Developing States have repeatedly warned the international community that the failure to adequately respond to climate change would betray our children and condemn future generations to certain doom.”
Silence was no longer an option, Prime Minister Chastanet said.
“The future is now and the challenges are profound. What is fast becoming the ‘new normal’ is the intensification of extreme weather events, which demands from us real solutions in real time. No longer can we depend on old mechanisms with dense bureaucracies that delay or limit a nation’s ability to safeguard its citizens during a crisis and slow the rebuilding effort.”
Prime Minister Chastanet said that he has watched with a heavy heart and seen first-hand during his visits to the hurricane ravaged territories the destruction of the series of hurricanes.
“Saint Lucia, along with most of our sister CARICOM member states are anchored at the heart of hurricane alley, with our people on the front line, and too often are the first to endure the ravages of mother nature’s fury when the storms come off the Atlantic Ocean. Today, as we look to the world for leadership and partnership, we thank France, China and Germany for their continued leadership on climate change issues.”
Even as he laid out those facts for the United Nations and called for more attention to be paid to the region, the Prime Minister noted that the Government of Saint Lucia will do whatever it can for those in need.
“The ties that bind our people run deep; the pain of one is the pain of all. We ask that the global community follow this ethos – never forget that we are once global ecosystem that demands that we all be our brother’s keeper.”
Quoting Saint Lucia’s Nobel Laureate Sir Derek Walcott, Prime Minister Chastanet spoke to the sense of responsibility to one’s neighbour that “is rooted in our cultural DNA”.
“Not out of a sense of duty but out of a sense of community . . . Even in our destitution we in the Caribbean open our hearts and means to those in need.”
The Prime Minister would go on to call for all multilateral discussions on development, on resilience and the sustainable development of our countries be equitable and just.