Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley made a case for small states during an address on Monday at the Opening Session of the Green Climate Fund Transformational Climate Financing for the Caribbean Region Event.
During the session, which was held virually due to the impact of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and its variants, Mottley called for true global partnerships and actions in response to challenges, particularly with respect to equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines.
Mottley addressed the 5Cs – challenges in relation to coronavirus (COVID-19), climate crisis, chronic non-communicable diseases (CNCDs), crime and the consequences of colonialism.
“Our dialogue these days has regrettably been overtaken by COVID-19 – not just the public health response and what we need to do to save lives, but also current and future livelihoods: making sure that the recovery is less about building back – because in many respects we should not be repeating the approaches of the past – but building forward better.
“And as we acknowledge by our presence here today, this pandemic is not the only global threat we face, as at the same time, the climate crisis continues to be more critical than ever. In fact, . . . the two Cs of COVID and the climate crisis are not the only ones that trouble us, as the Caribbean region faces the simultaneous threats of (iii) chronic non-communicable diseases (CNCDs), (iv) crime, in all its forms, and perhaps the fifth and final C which is common across the others – the consequences of colonialism, which cause us to strengthen our organised action around securing reparations,” she said.
Mottley also repeated comments that countries in the region often suffer as a result of their small size.
“The island nations and most of the countries of the Caribbean Basin are small, but our region is large, particularly in its diversity and historic contribution to global economic wealth as it now exists, though held by others and not by us. Because of our small terrestrial size, we are, it seems, difficult for many to see, literally and otherwise. And even when we are seen, it is similarly difficult for many to justify action based on economic arguments of scale,” she said.
Mottley said this is being felt with access to COVID-19 vaccines: “the pandemic . . . sees some of us less able to access the critical vaccines needed to protect our citizens, because of the size of our countries, and therefore the scope of our power”.
“Regrettably, we seem not to be able to acknowledge that until every country is safe, no country is safe,” she said.
The Prime Minister also called for a significant increase in overall climate finance.
“We welcome the positive signs that the size of adaptation projects funded by the multilateral funds serving the Paris Agreement (the Adaptation Fund, the Green Climate Fund and the Global Environment Facility) are increasing. According to the latest Adaptation Gap Report, since 2017, 21 new projects have had a value of more than US$25 million. And we applaud the Green Climate Fund for its promise to allocate at least 40 per cent of its pledged funds over the first replenishment period, up to December 2023, to adaptation.”
Mottley outlined Roofs to Reefs as “our sustainable development model for the next ten years”. She also noted that other partnerships must be sought in order to achieve the targets.
“Alongside a new financial architecture, there are other efforts to be undertaken, including agreement on internationally accepted methodologies to quantify the significant roles of the Caribbean Sea and the associated reefs, seagrass beds and mangroves in carbon sequestration, which would allow our roles in the mitigation fight to be recognised alongside those of our larger neighbours.”