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‘Overwhelmed by old challenges’, Caribbean leaders say Covid-1 has forced a new war for their nation’s survival – Global Issue


St. Lucia: An almost impossible balance

Philip Joseph Pierre, Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Economic Development and Youth Economy of St. Lucia, says his nation faces serious challenges due to its small size and the risk of natural disasters and climate change. While struggling to find solutions to existing problems, St. Lucia was attacked by Covid-1.

“We are now flooded by the new, though overwhelmed by the old,” he said in his pre-recorded speech at the annual high-level debate at the UN General Assembly.

The epidemic forced last year’s debate to be held almost entirely practically, but the 2021 session is being held in a hybrid format with a combination of personal and virtual participation.

Mr. Pierre said small island nations, such as St. Lucia, continue to struggle with “almost impossible balancing laws to preserve lives and livelihoods” in the twists and turns of the coronavirus epidemic.

These include pushing back against misinformation about the virus and what he called “vaccine racism” that has seen some countries stockpile vaccines, “other countries are looking helplessly because of the need for jabs due to covid-related deaths.”

At the same time, Mr. Pierre said the epidemic “seems to have slowed down everything except the deterioration of our favorite planet Earth.” Covid-1 takes the title, “But it is true that the epidemic came at a time when the world was already on an unstable path to 2030. [Development] Agenda and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) ”.

With less than a decade to go before the 2030 agenda is achieved, the Prime Minister noted that the UN’s decade-long action needs an urgent solution to “save our global livelihoods.”

“It may be plausible that the Covid-1 pandemic epidemic and the challenge of climate change are confronting us with the inter-problem of symptoms as a cause and effect,” he said. “It provides us with a stern and timely reminder that human health and the health of the planet are connected.”

He lamented that the cost of tackling these challenges and conducting health or climate resilience activities was “too high” within the financial reach of small islands. As such, he appealed to all countries to contribute to the recovery efforts and to make their commitment to adaptation and mitigation funds.

The full statement is here.

Bahamas: Increase ambition at COP26

The Prime Minister of the Bahamas, Philip Edward Davis, has called for a fair distribution of vaccines, including in small island developing states, which are not manufacturers. “It is also important to make safe treatments and therapeutics readily available and to designate them as public products,” he added.

“The Kovid-1 pandemic epidemic has made a lot of what is known to many of us true: we are all together,” he said.

“We must work together to end the Kovid-1 pandemic epidemic and to address public health issues. We must work together to reduce the effects of climate change. Access to development funding must be adequate and fair. The Prime Minister said a backlash to any one of these issues would have dire consequences for the world economy.

Even when his country was dealing with the effects of the coronavirus epidemic, the prime minister reminded the assembly that the Bahamas was devastated by Hurricane Dorian just two years ago this month, one of the strongest storms to record the Atlantic, “and the physical and emotional devastation is still with us.

He lamented the feeling of his country’s forecast in the wake of the storm, saying, “Every rain is a reminder of the horrors. How can we not do something in the face of such tragedy? “I invite you to visit Abako and the Grand Bahamas,” he told a leader who believes there is enough time to tackle climate change, where the devastation caused by Dorian is now part of the country’s scene.

“So, we are not here to call for measured action. We want to say here that big, radical change is the only response that can save our country. Our time is up, ”Mr. Davis announced, urging states to raise their ambitions and make a real commitment to reduce emissions to COP26 in Glasgow. “We don’t want the conference to be the same as the previous 25,” he said, urging states to “not agree to the same promises that will not be kept.”

There must be “real progress in bridging investment gaps and access to technology and skills,” especially in climate mitigation and adaptation, he said, emphasizing the need for more innovative financing and debt solutions, including climate adaptation.

He pointed to the growing gap in global funding to meet the SDGs by 2030, which is estimated at 2019 2.5 trillion by 2019 and the international financial institutions and the international donor community.

Antigua and Barbuda: Vaccine equity is a global benefit

Like his Bahamian counterpart, the prime minister of Antigua and Barbuda, Gaston A. Brown, also focused his speech on epidemics and climate change, which he called “the two major problems facing mankind.”

Starting with Covid-1, he echoed others who spoke of the lack of a coherent response to ending the crisis, including vaccine inequality.

He emphasized that developing countries were not looking for handouts, and that many had paid for a global system that promised early access to vaccines, but that “selfish nationalism” had forced many to rely on “vaccine charities”.

“No country wants to beg for a vaccine,” Brown said.

“Globally, we would be in a much better place if developing countries were given access to the correct Covid-1 vaccine and medical supplies at the start of the epidemic,” he said.

Calling inoculation inequality, “wrong, unjust, and clearly unjust,” Mr. Brown advocated for equitable vaccine distribution at affordable prices and less expensive covid tests.

“Vaccines are a global good; It should not be a commodity for human life, ”he said.

Noting that climate change has already had dire consequences in several small island states, the Prime Minister called for “global commitment and commitment” to reduce global temperatures below 1.5 degrees Celsius and provide quality financing and climate technology to “save our planet”.

Noting that industrialized countries have an obligation to help the states most affected by climate change, because “they created a problem in the first place”, Mr Brown indicated that small island development fund assistance to developing states should not be seen as a gift or charity but “Compensating for past climate damage as a form of climate compensation”.

The full statement is here.



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