Saint Lucia’s Prime Minister Allen Chastanet has called on the international community not to take the resilience of small Island states for granted.
Chastanet, who is also Chairman of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), spoke against the backdrop of the passage of Hurricane Dorian which devastated the Bahamas.
He spoke of the need to convince the world that Small Island states are under tremendous stress.
“We cannot wait for the storms to happen to go and fix things up. The message to the world is not to take our resilience for granted,” the Saint Lucia PM said while in attendance at the UN Trade Forum 2019 in Geneva.
He recalled recent natural disasters in Dominica and Haiti.
“Just because Dominica is operational and just because Haiti is operational and more than likely in the next couple of weeks life will go on in the Bahamas, it doesn’t mean it will go on the way it was before and there has not been an impact,” Chastanet explained.
Asked what scares him the most after Hurricane Dorian, his response was that history is repeating itself.
“It seems like we’re not learning anything. We’re going through the same process that we do after every catastrophe,” Chastanet lamented.
“There’s this empathy; there’s this sympathy; there’s this emergency that’s never sustained and the fact is that we are not able to step back and accept that this is the new normal and requires a fundamental change in how we go about doing things,” he stated.
The PM said small countries are very vulnerable because of the size of their economies in absolute terms.