Urgent action needed to build a sustainable future: Barbados

Selwin Hart

Barbados has called for urgent action at all levels to implement agreed goals to combat climate change, population growth, poverty and environmental stress – and build a resilient, sustainable future.

Speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community -CARICOM, Counsellor at the Barbados Mission to the United Nations Selwin Hart said the region shared a sense of alarm over the state of the global environment. He told the Secretary-General’s High-level Panel on Global Sustainability that CARICOM is convinced of the urgency attached to collective action if they are to address the challenge of global sustainability.

TAPE: CARICOM stresses that we must therefore intensify our efforts at ensuring our shared desire for urgent and ambitious global action is translated into real and concrete action on the ground. Despite our small size and our inherent vulnerabilities, many CARICOM countries have developed or, are in the process of developing policies, strategies and plans that serve as the basis for a greener, low-carbon economic transition while addressing the challenge of poverty eradication and the broader goal of sustainable development. At the regional level, we have made good progress at creating a Single Market and Economy that facilitates the free movement of people, goods and services in the region. We are also working with countries in the wider Caribbean region through the Association of Caribbean States to protect one of our most valuable resources, the Caribbean Sea. It is through actions like these at the national and regional level that the benefits of sustainable development will be realized for those who matter most – our people. However, without a supportive international environment, these efforts will be undermined.

NAR: Mr. Hart noted that addressing the many challenges highlighted by members of the Panel, including climate change, energy, biological diversity, poverty eradication and water scarcity will require a massive scaling up and transfer of financial and technological resources to developing countries.

TAPE: It will also require governance reforms at the international level to provide a greater voice for developing countries in decision-making and norm setting, and realigning the mandates of some existing institutions to current realities. CARICOM encourages you to be bold in this regard, give the independent and mutually supportive relationship between good governance at the national, regional and international levels. While we all agree on the primary role of governments in shaping policy, it is our responsibility to engage all stakeholders including civil society and the private sector in the search for lasting and meaningful solutions. To achieve these ends, countries have embraced many different approaches, based on their own national circumstances and priorities. Time is not on our side. There is consensus within the global scientific community that we must take decisive action over the next decade to reverse the damage to our life supporting ecosystems, and that failure to act now, could result in irreparable damage to our planet. Failure to act or insufficient action has a real cost – human lives. Your report must transmit a clear and unambiguous message that there is a global consensus to act urgently and decisively – this is the paradigm shift we should seek to achieve.

NAR: Mr. Hart said CARICOM wished to signal its willingness to engage constructively with the Panel at a later date.

NAR: The 22-member High-level Panel on Global Sustainability was created by the secretary-general last year to craft a blueprint for a sustainable future and to identify mechanisms by which that could be achieved, including by exploring approaches to effectively tackle hunger, inequality and the deterioration of the natural environment. Co-Chair of the Panel, President Tarja Halonen of Finland, provided an overview of the Panel’s work, noting that the goal was to tackle such issues as climate, poverty reduction and social justice in a holistic way. She stressed that building bridges between agreed commitments in those areas would be key to its success. Other vital concerns were women’s empowerment and enhancing social inclusion – or working with more people.

This is Donn Bobb reporting.

Duration: 4’27″

Filed under Caribbean News.
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