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|With growing threat to climate change and the need to meet United Nations’ (UN) 2015 Paris Climate Agreement that sets 2030 as the benchmark to reduce carbon emissions by 45% and to reach net zero by 2050, General-Secretary, António Guterres is urging Caribbean Heads of State and Government to take bold decisions to manage the climate crisis in the region. At the just concluded 43rd Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM) Conference, Guterres urged the leaders to recognise the Caribbean’s fragile coastal ecosystem and the preservation of mangroves to protect the region’s natural gifts.
Last year, Minister of Public Works, Juan Edghill, justified cutting down mangrove trees at Versailles-Malgre Tout, West Bank Demerara, to make way for oil and gas offshore businesses, stating that “with development comes changes.” At his press conference, 10th May 2021, the minister flippantly said, “At some stage, mangroves will be displaced. Mangroves will have to be removed.”
Pointing out the biggest challenge facing the world today is the climate crisis, Guterres recommended three bold solutions necessary to tackle the issues, and reaffirmed the UN’s commitment to working with the region towards achieving them. These are:-
1. Matching Climate Action To The Scale And Urgency Of The Crisis through urgent and transformative emissions reduction to halt global warming at a 1.5C, support for adaptation from climate impacts, and financial assistance to secure resilience.
2. Reforming ‘Morally Bankrupt’ Global Financial System And Spur Sustainable Recovery- i.e., developing economies need access to financing at no or low costs, as well as debt relief and restructuring. Pointing out the old metrics have failed, the General-Secretary said there is time to change them. He proposed moving beyond the financial system’s preoccupation with per capita income, and establishing a ‘multidimensional vulnerability index’ to determine access to financial support.
The UN head affirmed that for CARICOM countries this “would mean ensuring that the complex and interdependent factors of debt and climate change impact are captured in any eligibility analysis for debt relief and financing.”
3. Keeping Up The Combat Against The COVID-19 Pandemic which requires governments, organisations and pharmaceutical companies working better together to locally produce tests, vaccines and treatments.
The General-Secretary cautioned that the world is “not out of the woods yet… And we need to continue working closely together to stop the spread of the virus across the Caribbean through proven public health measures and prepare for future pandemics through bold investments in preparedness and training,”