‘Vulnerable Small States Need Global Support’


The Voice highlights a statement by Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland who underlines that recent natural disasters, such as storms and hurricanes, are ‘linked to man-made climate change.’ Here are excerpts:

Hurricane seasons have always been a stark reality of Caribbean life. Many of the natural disasters in the region have made history, personalised by names such as David, Hugo, Felix and Erica. But there is nothing humane about these storms. Nature’s fury is not restrained by considerations for people, property or economic stability. This month we met Monstrous Matthew, which has claimed hundreds of lives and caused widespread destruction.

[. . .]As I coordinated disaster relief for Dominica, where I was born, I saw how challenging it was to get the global spotlight on this tiny country. I saw a leader facing the tough possibility of taking out loans to rebuild infrastructure that he still owes money on.

[. . .] Since news of Matthew broke, I have been speaking to Caribbean leaders to reassure them that the Commonwealth is ready and willing to support the regional Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency. [. . .] I offered ministers the services of our Climate Finance Access Hub, which opened its doors last month. Working in collaboration with regional organisations such as the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre in Belize, the Pacific Regional Environment Programme in Samoa, Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environmental Programme and the Indian Ocean Commission in Mauritius, the Hub will offer tailored support so Commonwealth countries can better access the billions pledged for climate action.

[. . .] We will also be progressing our Multilateral Debt Swap for Climate Action proposal, which was endorsed by the United Nations Secretary General and is currently being piloted in the Caribbean. This will help small states reduce their public debt in exchange for their commitment to use the repayments to finance local climate change projects. [. . .]

What we need now is for countries’ vulnerability and resilience to climate change to be accounted for in concessional finance arrangements. We believe the best way to do this is a vulnerability index, which considers a number of factors, including countries’ likelihood of being affected by natural disasters.

Currently, international financial institutions use an income-based measure to determine whether a country is given concessional financing. Many Commonwealth small states are currently ineligible for this support, despite their obvious vulnerability to violent storms.

As the Caribbean endures the stress and worry of a hurricane season, we at the Commonwealth will use every opportunity, every platform to galvanise support for our small and vulnerable members.

[Photo above from original article from The Voice:  A woman cries amid the rubble of her home, destroyed by Hurricane Matthew, in Baracoa, Cuba.]

For full article, see http://www.voice-online.co.uk/article/vulnerable-small-states-need-global-support

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