Barbados warns of impact of climate change and natural disasters

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Maxine McClean

Barbados has been classified as a middle-income developing country. But according to Foreign Minister Maxine McClean, in reality, Barbados is a Small Island Developing State –SIDS, characterized by high debt, high vulnerability to external shocks, and susceptibility to the impacts of Climate Change and natural disasters.

Maxine McClean:  The global economic and environmental situation has had a disproportionate effect on our successful, but nevertheless vulnerable economy. We bear the burden of rising food and fuel prices and a decline in foreign investment. Our efforts to address these threats have been severely undermined by international financial and cooperation mechanisms that fail to take account of the vulnerability and capacity constraints that we face. Barbados and similar vulnerable countries have been graduated from grant and concessionary financing by the multilateral institutions such as the Inter-American Development Bank and the World Bank, ignoring our unique situation. There is clear need for greater equity, fairness and transparency in the process used to determine classifications and resource allocation. The persistent use of international classification and ratings systems which are solely based on GDP per capita and other narrow criteria must be expanded in scope to take into account meaningful variables such as vulnerability.

Foreign Minister Mc Clean said that in that context, Barbados welcomes the assertion by the UN Secretary General that “the use of per capita income to classify countries as a means of guiding development cooperation disregards the nature and multidimensional nature of development”.

On the question of climate change, Ms. McClean warned that there is no greater threat to the survival, viability, and indeed the security, of Barbados and other Small Island Developing States, than the threat posed by climate change. She explained that science continues to warn that "we are on the threshold of irreversible and potentially catastrophic changes to the global climate system".

Maxine McClean: Global emissions, the main cause of human induced climate change, are rising at their fastest rate in history, even as we bear witness to massive and accelerating ice loss from the ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica, and a doubling of the rate of sea level rise. We are at a major turning point in the history of mankind. Are we willing to sacrifice the most vulnerable members of the international community? This is the stark choice we face. But after the islands disappear, who will be next? Inaction or inadequate action is inexcusable and morally indefensible, given the level of certainty of the scientific evidence before us, and the technological and financial tools at our disposal to effect the necessary change. While some useful progress was made at the Durban Climate Change Conference in December last year, we are not close to finding a solution to this problem.

Foreign Minister McClean said Barbados welcomes the decision taken in Durban, South Africa to launch negotiations on a new legally binding agreement that would take effect after 2020. However, a post-2020 agreement is meaningless if ambitious actions are not taken now to reduce global emissions and provide finance and technology to vulnerable developing countries.

This is Donn Bobb reporting.

Duration: 3’32″

Filed under Caribbean News.
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