As the United Nations climate conference draws to a close this week, St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ Opposition leader Dr. Godwin Friday asserted his country had suffered massive damage and loss from climate change and declared the small island developing state was fully committed to playing its role in the fight against climate change.
He confirmed the vulnerability of St. Vincent and the Grenadines to climate change, recalling damage already wrought: flooding, drought, deforestation, loss of top soil or soil quality, landslides, coastal erosion, depletion of river waters, and damage or bleaching of coral reefs.
Dr. Friday asserted climate change is not an abstract term to Vincentians: “since 2010, our country has been affected by several major weather events such as Hurricane Thomas in 2010, the 2013 Christmas Eve floods, and the November 2016 floods.”
Dr. Friday said the events amounted to losses of US$700 million, which equates to between 5 and 15 percent of the country’s GDP, major setbacks for a small island developing state.
Added to the physical damage, Dr. Friday reported rising temperatures were “continuing to affect us locally as it is directly linked to vector-borne diseases and SVG is currently experiencing worsening dengue fever outbreaks.”
Accordingly, in addition to mitigating and adapting physically to climate change, he urged, “We must look at our climate resilience and our health care system’s ability to deal with this very real reality.”
In view of the recommendations emerging from the Glasgow COP26 meeting, Dr. Friday asserted it was important for the country to “invest and to reevaluate our physical planning and ensure that it’s up to the task of dealing with matters of climate change in a progressive and equitable manner.”
As part of a commitment to strengthening the country’s resilience to climate-changing events, Dr. Friday reported: “We have through the Caribbean Democrat Union and the Westminster Foundation for Democracy enrolled our candidate for North Central Windward Chieftain Neptune and our Public Relations Officer Lavern King in a program for Climate Change and Health at Yale University.”