BONN, Germany, November 21, 2017 – While several Caribbean nations were represented at the recent United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP23) by delegations led by a prime minister or minister, St. Kitts and Nevis was represented by a lower level delegation.
The 2017 UN Climate Conference took place in Bonn, Germany, from 6-18 November. Leaders of national governments, cities, states, business, investors, NGOs and civil society gathered to speed up climate action to meet the goals of the Paris Climate Change Agreement. The COP is organized by the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
“The ideal would be for the minister with responsibility for climate change to attend international relations,” said a person knowledgeable in international relations.
“We are always at a disadvantage when the head of delegation is not at the appropriate level,” said another, who serves in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs official of a nearby Caribbean state.
Dominica and St. Lucia were represented by their respective prime ministers.
Dominica’s Prime Minister Hon. Roosevelt Skerrit came to the meeting with a shopping list of more than US$200 million as he reminded the international community of the disaster brought upon his country by Hurricane Maria on September 18 this year.
He said public infrastructure was severely impacted and forests decimated.
“Two months later 95 per cent of the country remains without electricity, our water systems are compromised, and many citizens remain displaced and in shelters. This, ladies and gentlemen, is the reality of climate change. Within a few hours an entire country was brought to its knees by the forces of nature.
“Two years ago we convened in a similar setting and signed on to the Paris accord.. We pledged as an international community to take positive proactive steps to stem the tide of climate change. The developed world pledged funds to be made available for the mitigation and adaptation of the harmful effects of climate change.”
Skerrit said that Dominica knows the potential impact of climate change and of countries that may disappear.
The Dominica Prime Minister said that the international community has an opportunity now to truly demonstrate its commitment to battling the effects of climate change, saying “we need you to partner with us to build a truly climate resilient nation a nation adapted to the new reality of fiercer, more frequent and more ferocious storms.”
He said US$200 million is required to rebuild in more suitable locations and to a standard that makes them climate resilient.
St. Lucia’s Prime Minister Hon. Allen Chastanet said climate change could devastate Caribbean islands as the region holds the highest risks against the devastation of the recent hurricanes that hit the area.
“Not only have these storms decimated our countries and our economies, but they have also left our citizens and governments with a feeling of fear and helplessness,” he explained.
The fact that the next hurricane season is only nine months away, he said, has the Caribbean feeling “that this process is far too slow for us.”
Chastanet said many small islands have been declared uninhabitable after most of their infrastructure was destroyed especially after hurricane Irma.
It appears that St. Kitts and Nevis had no representation at the 2017 Youth Climate Change Conference in which there was participation of youth from 8 Caribbean countries and Japan.
Participating Caribbean countries included Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Suriname. The event was co-hosted by the United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) Japan-Caribbean Climate Change Partnership (J-CCCP) Project and the USAID-funded Jamaica Rural Economy and Ecosystems Adapting to Climate Change II (Ja REEACH II) Project in October 2017 in Kingston, Jamaica.