(CARICOM Secretariat) Resilience and sustainable development were at the heart of the United Nations (UN) Secretary-General (SG), António Guterres’ address to the 40th Regular Meeting of Caribbean Community Heads of Government, which opened in Saint Lucia on 3 July 2019. Climate-related disasters and their impacts on families; murder rates; violence among women and girls; and concessional development financing were among the issues raised by the UNSG.
In connecting the growth in frequency and severity of climate-related disasters to the intensifying of risks to families and to development, the UNSG outlined measures to address these issues urgently.
“The Caribbean experience makes abundantly clear that we must urgently reduce global emissions and work collectively to ensure that global temperature rise does not go beyond 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels”, he said.
“We must massively increase our ambition to advance low-emission and resilient development, including addressing loss and damage from climate impacts.…. Investing in sustainable development also means investing more in concrete conservation and resilience measures.”, he continued.
Noting that Caribbean societies’ resilience must address the issue of “citizen insecurity”, the UNSG made reference to “murder rates that are still significant in parts of the Caribbean; and violence against women and girls.
“Violence against women and girls is a significant dimension of citizen insecurity, which increases in the wake of natural disasters and is an obstacle to resilient societies generally.”
The UNSG stressed that it was important that gender considerations underpin all efforts to promote citizen security and sustainable development, and shared that he was pleased that “the Spotlight Initiative will partner with CARICOM [Secretariat] and six countries in the Region” and in this regard invest – some 50 million euros, in prevention and redress for violence against women and girls.
The UNSG highlighted the vulnerability of small states due to, among other factors, small size of domestic markets and their limited capacity to participate in global markets; heavy dependence on imports, particularly energy and food; high levels of national debt; and the challenges of mobilizing development financing on affordable and appropriate terms, and indicated support for the CARICOM group.
“…we join your call, and will take the steps we can, to improve access to development financing as a priority, “he said.
“I agree with you that eligibility for Official Development Assistance and other forms of concessional financing should include vulnerability criteria, in addition to Gross National Income per capita. “, the UNSG also said
“For middle-income countries that are particularly vulnerable, the multilateral development banks and development finance institutions have key roles to play in providing more long-term, low-cost debt financing,” he continued
The UNSG said that he strongly supported the ECLAC proposal to convert debt to investment in resilience through the debt for climate adaptation swap and resilience building initiative, and expressed the total support of the UN and his own to any initiative aiming at creating conditions to for adequate financing for building resilie3nce and for recovering from the devastation of climate accidents.
(Reporting by Volderine Hackett)