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Small Island Developing States Speech – St. Lucia’s Prime Minister as CARICOM Representative
Written By Ms. Ingrid Baker: 620042573 (Advisor to Hon. Dr. Kenny and Dr. Anthony)
For The Hon. Dr. Kenny (Prime Minister of St. Lucia) Head of Delegation
Topic: The Opportunities and challenges for development now being posed to small state economies in light of the implications of climate change.

Excellences, Mr. Secretary-General, distinguished ladies and gentlemen; I have the distinct honour to deliver this presentation on behalf of the 15 member states of the Caribbean Community, CARICOM. Now, this comes at a critical juncture for all Small Island Developing States. When, more than ever, critical leadership is required.
As we already know, we face the same realities in "the Caribbean where we live," and we endure this reality through the threat produced on our islands by climate change. Climate is existential within the Caribbean, and is very badly affected by rising sea levels, but not that only, since we also need to think of things like the acidification of the oceans, the effects that this has on fish stocks and what this means for food security.
Projections show that this warming that is taking place, will be accompanied by an increase in heavy rainfall events and other temporal and spatial changes in precipitation patterns, and by more intense or frequent cyclones/hurricanes. Agricultural land, water resources and biodiversity are already under pressure from increases in population on small island states as well as the unsustainable use of available natural resources. With climate change, mangroves will be threatened by sea-level rise, water resources are expected to be stressed by changes in precipitation patterns, more powerful floods and droughts will be expected. Also, more powerful storms linked to global warming will occur due to the greenhouse effect of gas emissions. All of which will continue to, and have, severely tested our policies in the area of infrastructure, food security, health and the eradication of poverty.
For us within the Caribbean, beyond the challenges of sustainable development, the rising level of the sea and beyond the temporary or permanent displacement of coastal populations, also threatened, is the very existence of our countries. Our actions within this region is therefore guided by the need to survive what is currently takin place.
We believe that progress has been made in raising awareness of this danger in light of the decisions taken in the framework of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development held in Rio de Janeiro in June 2012. Indeed, Heads of State from around the world endorsed the concept of green economy and devoted considerable attention to issues of financing and technology transfer for the benefit of the Least Developed Countries (LDCs), the African States and Small Developing Island States, in order to enable them to pursue their policies and programs for environmentally sustainable human development.
So, climate change is already taking place today and will continue to occur well into the future and poses a number of challenges for our economies with the effect it has on tourism; health through the increase in disease, food through its effect on biodiversity, agriculture, fisheries and water sources; as well as its effect on our costal zones, marine areas and settlements; since there is concentration of large settlements (with associated economic and social activities) at or near the coast, which is a well-documented feature of small islands.
Tourism
Now, tourism is a major economic sector in many small islands and the impacts of climate change on the tourism sector are expected to be significant, and support for economic diversification towards other revenue generating sectors in small island states is necessary. Sea-level rise and accelerated beach erosion, degradation of coral reefs (including bleaching), and the loss of cultural heritage on the coasts through inundation and flooding, will most likely reduce the attractiveness of small island states to tourists. Increases in the frequency or intensity of hurricanes and cyclones will also strongly effect the tourism industry. For example, in Barbados 70 per cent of the hotels are located within 250 m of the high water mark. This suggests that many hotels are almost exclusively within the 1 in 500 and 1 in 100 inundation zones, placing them at risk of major structural damage.
However, risk management practices have the potential to greatly help SIDS in preparing for climate change impacts especially in the form of increased extreme events; and organisations and companies are taking actions to decrease risk from natural disasters on SIDS. For example, the Caribbean Hazard Mitigation Capacity Building Programme of CARICOM is helping our (Caribbean) countries to create national hazard vulnerability reduction policies; and the United Insurance Company of Barbados gives financial incentives for homeowners to put preventative measures in place. The Catastrophic Risk Insurance Facility (CRIF) 6 within the World Bank is also piloting a scheme for small States to buy parametric insurance coverage against natural disaster risk.
Another way in which we can move forward is through adaptation. Adaptation is one means of addressing climate change and minimising some of the impacts, it implies that societies need to adjust to current and future climate. Many countries will need to adjust in different ways according to the particular geographical situation.
Adaptation measures would be required to reduce the adverse impact of projected climate change and variability, regardless of the scale of mitigation taken in the next 2-3 decades. The steps to the adaption process involves: 1. Assessing impacts & Vulnerability 2. Capturing local coping strategies & traditional knowledge 3. Develop adaption responses and strategies 4. Build capacities 5. Create more awareness through sharing knowledge There is a need for a proactive approach as planned and anticipatory adaption has the potential to reduce vulnerability and realise opportunities associated with climate change. Whereas reactive measures are or would be implemented as response to all the observed climate impact.
Special Guests, Excellences; the challenges attached to climate change is by no means a secret, it is unfolding right before our very eyes. But as a means to lift our spirits within the Caribbean, let us instead focus on some of the potential opportunities being posed to our home lands. Understanding the effects of climate change, and associated enhanced climate variability and sea-level rise, at the local and national levels is critical for adaptation, as is the capacity to select and apply appropriate methods and tools to prepare for adaptation. Furthermore, the development of technology; the use and integration of traditional knowledge and the communication of science in ways that can be understood and used by SIDS policy makers and their constituencies are also crucial, and this development are initiatives that are currently being push within CARICOM states. This includes the need to link scientific analysis to downstream social and economic effects. User-friendly documentation of successful pilot schemes on adaptation assessment, the availability information clearinghouses, and stronger public education and outreach programmes that are useful in disseminating information relating to the potential impacts of climate change, and the benefits and advantages of reducing vulnerabilities.
Distinguished Heads of Delegation, we live in a heavenly region, with an exuberant nature, great potential and much to be achieved. It is up to us to materialize on the opportunities that are presented, that like the nature that surrounds us, life will be good for all our people. Thank you for your attention. Long live CARICOM!

--------------------------------------------
[ 1 ]. Sem, G. (2007). Vulnerability and adaptation to climate change in small island developing states. Background paper.
[ 2 ]. Caribbean Community Secretariat. (2013). www.caricom.org
[ 3 ]. UN (2015). General Assembly of the United Nations: President of the 70th session – A new commitment to action. www.un.org/pga/70/2015/09/14/opening-speech
[ 4 ]. “Preliminary review of the economic impact of climate change on Caribbean Tourism: what is at risk and adapting for sustainable tourism development”, presentation given by Ms. Marlene Attzs at the Organization of American States Meeting on Adaptation to Climate Change in the Caribbean, Tourism Sector Workshop held in Grenada, in May 2002.
[ 5 ]. Sem, G. (2007). Vulnerability and adaptation to climate change in small island developing states. Background paper
[ 6 ]. Nurse, L., et al, 2001, Small island states, In Climate Change 2001: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability, J.J. McCarthy et al (eds.), Contribution of Working Group II to the Third Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp. 842-975.…...

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