Saint Lucia’s Minister of Education, Sustainable Development, Innovation, Science, Technology and Skills Training Shawn Edwards delivered an impassioned plea on the world stage at COP27 in Charm el-Sheikh in Egypt, for small island developing states to receive climate finance for loss and damage from the effects of climate change.
Minister Edwards delivered his speech at a high-level COP27 panel discussion on Thursday, November 10, which included HE Nino Tandilashivili, Deputy Minister at Georgia’s Ministry of Environment and Agriculture, and HE Aminath Shauna, Minister of Environment, Climate Change and Technology in the Republic of Maldives.
The panel discussed the issues developing countries are facing due to climate change and the financing needed to address it. Developed countries have faced increasing pressure at this United Nations Climate Change Conference (UNFCCC) to make funding available to countries facing the most severe impacts of climate change, yet who are the most vulnerable. low emitters of greenhouse gases, carbon dioxide being the main emitted by human activity.
Minister Edwards told the gathering that a few days ago Saint Lucia had to deal with an unprecedented storm of a magnitude that no one had experienced in a lifetime. “Houses were damaged, vehicles floated down the streets like paper, schools were hit and the initial valuation we estimated was between $6 and $8 million, and all of this happened in the space of about three hours. These are weather systems that are visiting us in Saint Lucia and the Caribbean with a frequency we have never seen before and each time they come they leave us in shreds. We have to find resources to rebuild, to rebuild.
Twelve years ago, in Copenhagen, developed countries pledged $100 billion a year to less wealthy countries to mitigate and adapt to rising global temperatures. However, this promise has not been kept, so every year the frustration of world leaders grows as their countries deal with the adverse effects of severe hurricanes, extreme floods and extreme drought. These new phenomena have given rise to food security problems, an increase in national debt – countries borrowing money to recover from these cataclysmic events – and a loss of GDP.
Edwards lamented that “every year, at every forum, at the COP, at UNEP, you will hear the global statements made on time and against the fact that funds are pledged for small island developing states, but it never reaches our treasury.And when proposals are written and submitted to international financial agencies for support, there is always a deficiency in the proposal you submit.
Climate change poses significant challenges to small island developing states in the OECS, and regional leaders are constantly looking for ways to overcome them, build resilience in their economies, and advocate for international, regional and local policies that ensure their survival for future generations.