Bahamas warns of existential threat to Caricom as a result of climate change
Bahamas Prime Minister Phillip Davis addressing the opening of the 43rd CARICOM Summit in Suriname (CMC Photo)

PARAMARIBO, Suriname, CMC – Bahamas Prime Minister, Phillip Davis, is warning of the existential threat posed by climate change to the Caribbean and urged regional countries to join forces to deal with its impact.

Addressing the opening of the 43rd Summit of Caribbean Community (Caricom) leaders here on Sunday night, Davis said that while it is striking that so many of the region’s most urgent struggles derive in great part from external “we are each responsible for making our individual countries stronger and more resilient to the impact of external events.

“But the history of our region makes clear that we can have a greater impact if we also join forces and stand together. The Bahamas is one of the 10 countries in the world most vulnerable to climate change.

“While every country in the world is facing adverse and extreme weather events, the countries in our region face extraordinary and immediate risk. We have heard, for many, many years, about the good intentions of others. I know you join me in seeing the urgency of moving beyond promises and pledges. It’s time for action,” Davis stated.

Davis said fortunately, there is hope on the horizon. He said due to the joint and persistent advocacy, work is now underway in the global community on the development of a multidimensional vulnerability index that will better measure the region’s development needs and improve access to development assistance.

He said once completed, it will replace inadequate tools such as per capita gross domestic product (GDP).

Davis, during his address, invited his regional colleagues to participate in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Regional Heads of Governments meeting to be held in Nassau from August 16-18.

Davis said that the meeting will allow for discussions on matters pertaining to climate financing and adaptation ahead of COP 27.

“The Caribbean as a region will need more than US$40 billion to finance adaptation efforts and disaster recovery. Over the last few years, many of our countries have not fared well. Small Ocean economies gain in negotiating strength and influence when we work effectively as one.

“It is no exaggeration to say that, if we do not stand together, we, each one of us, in danger of falling apart. The deadline to attain the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals agenda is a mere eight years away. Many of us are lagging in critical areas. There is no time to waste,” Davis said.

Davis questioned why are the regional countries are not moving closer to the ideals and aspirations of those who sat around the table 49 years ago and dreamt of better futures for the entire Caribbean.

“Friends, while the world’s problems do wash up on our shores, sometimes we contribute to standing in the way of our own progress. We find it too easy to walk away from settled agreements, to pursue the course which we think will help our narrow, national interest,” he added.

Davis said that too many times, Caribbean countries have acquiesced to the pressures of larger, more developed states.

He said their approach of divide and conquer has hurt every country adding “might we be deriving greater value from our tourism industries if we had continued to negotiate in concert with some of the large multi-national corporations?

And might we have fared better during the COVID-19 pandemic if we had acted together to secure vaccines and medicines,” he asked, adding that the region should remember the words of the late Barbadian novelist, George Lamming, who he said “unflinchingly chronicled the legacy of colonialism and was a fierce believer in regional unity.

In 1966, he wrote: “The architecture of our future is not only unfinished; the scaffolding has hardly gone up.” If we are honest, too little has been built since 1966. We can do so much more, it’s never too late to make progress in earnest.

“The scaffolding for our regional architecture, the scaffolding for our future, is in our hands,” Davis said.

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