Minister of Tourism, Civil Aviation, Sustainable Development and Culture, Hon. Carlos James, has pointed to climate change as the greatest existential threat to the Caribbean, notwithstanding the challenges resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic and the recent geo-political activities in Europe.
Minister James expressed the view while addressing the 6th sitting of the OECS Assembly on Friday March 18th, 2022. He cautioned that “the region will never be able to recover from the severity of the impact of climate change if measures are not taken to swiftly address the vulnerabilities affecting Small Island Developing states (SIDS).”
The Sustainable Development Minister said that following the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 26) they are yet to see definitive progress on tracking the delivery of pledged funding for mitigation and adaptation measures or a new collective qualified goal on climate finance.
“What we need are concrete and realistic steps to combat climate change and a structured framework to hold those accountable for over 80 per cent of global emission, which affect lives and livelihoods of SIDS,” he said.
The 6th sitting of the OECS Assembly took place in St. John’s, Antigua under the theme: The Shift – Embracing New Platforms and Innovative Models for Leadership in Sustainability. It was supported by the European Union under the BioSPACE and ILM projects and the International Conservation Caucus Foundation (ICCF) Group.
The Assembly brought together members of the parliaments and legislatures of the 11 OECS Member States, to consider and seek common solutions to issues that affect the OECS region.
The Caribbean islands have been identified as one of the world’s top biodiversity hotspots, with both a high level of regionally unique species and a severe degree of habitat loss and vulnerability to extinctions.
The 6th Sitting of the OECS Assembly provided a platform for Member States to elevate the discourse on the health, productivity and diversity of the region’s ecosystems and biological resources as essential to economic viability and proposed initiatives and follow up actions for the United Nations Climate Change COP 27 in Egypt and the United Nations Biodiversity meeting in Kunming, China later this year.
In May 2022, St. Vincent and the Grenadines will host the 9th Council of Ministers on Environmental Sustainability, which Minister James said, “provides an opportunity to take a fresh guard on addressing the challenges to SIDS.”
St. Vincent and the Grenadines was represented by the Minister of Agriculture, Rural Transformation and Labor Hon. Saboto Caesar and Minister of Tourism, Civil Aviation, Sustainable Development and Culture, Hon. Carlos James.