At his first official speaking engagement at the 26th Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting [CHOGM] currently underway in Kigali, Rwanda, Prime Minister Hon. Philip J. Pierre at the request of Commonwealth Secretary General, The Rt. Hon. Patricia Scotland, addressed stakeholders and global leaders at the Climate Change and the Commonwealth: Accelerating Action – Breakfast Meeting on June 22.
The Prime Minister championed the concerns of Small Island Developing States [SIDS] who although collectively contribute less than 1% of global greenhouse gas emissions, bear the brunt of climate catastrophes including perpetually intensifying weather events.
“We recognize that Small Island Developing States, together, emit only around 0.6 % of global greenhouse gas emissions – a mere drop in the ocean. Notwithstanding, Saint Lucia and other SIDS have remained committed to their Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) targets and continue to push ahead with actions when considered collectively, reflect extremely ambitious targets. We believe in collective action at all levels, and it is for this reason that Saint Lucia continues to work with the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States Commission, to spearhead the NDC Finance Initiative. This Initiative is strong on building partnerships for NDC implementation-the type of partnership that represents the Commonwealth Secretariat’s focus on strengthening its members’ resilience.” The Prime Minister remarked.
Overcoming financing hurdles and securing equitable access to climate-related financing pledged by the world’s largest greenhouse gas emitters, Hon. Pierre asserted, must be prioritized to enhance the capacity of SIDS to transition to climate resilient infrastructure to mitigate the unavoidable effects of warming temperatures on our fragile ecosystems, lands, environment and citizens and livelihoods.
“The synergistic approach of the Commonwealth Living Lands Charter, presents an opportunity here at CHOGM, to strive towards halting the silo-operation that seems to be the order of the day, where donors expect us to separate climate and development matters when we request funding when clearly, climate change is a developmental matter and our ability to develop is impeded by the impacts of climate extremes, which we are forced to address. We are expected to request grant support for policies, strategies, awareness-raising, capacity building, assessments, and feasibility studies, but we are required to take loans for the actual implementation of large, tangible, on-the-ground projects. Similarly, the UN Climate Conference Subsidiary Body meetings have just concluded and many feel that we are no closer to getting a Loss and Damage Finance Facility that provides needs-based, accessible support for people who are facing the climate emergency now.
It is time to change the rhetoric as we battle the disastrous effects of hurricanes, food insecurity and increasing poverty levels. Let us put our people first.
Let us join in making this Commonwealth Living Lands Charter, this CALL, make a difference to the status quo so that history will mark us as the group of leaders who walked it like we talked it.”