At the Intersectional Session of the 202nd Executive Board at UNESCO in Paris, last week, September, 2017, the Official Representative of the government of St. Kitts and Nevis urged UNESCO to assertively take more tangible measures on its climate change programme to assist Caribbean SIDS address the effects of dangerous storms and hurricanes, particularly in the mitigation and adaptation areas.
Antonio Maynard, who is also the Secretary-General of the Federation’s national commission for UNESCO, made an intervention at the 58-country Board, referring to the loss of lives and damage to the small fragile economies in the Caribbean region: “In the wake of the Hurricanes Irma and Maria that ripped through the Caribbean region, leaving a devastating legacy of destruction, it would be amiss of me to not express my Delegation ‘s heartfelt condolences to the citizens in the neighboring small islands.
He went on to say, “Lives were lost and enormous damage to property, including school buildings, have resulted, across St.Kitts and Nevis, Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, St. Martin, the British Virgin Islands the US Virgin Islands, not to mention latterly, in especially Dominica.”
“These horrific Hurricanes speak volumes about the vulnerability of Small developing States like ours, faced with increasingly more frequent and more violent storms. The impact is felt on the ground in terms devastation of the eco-systems and the economy”.
Mr. Maynard concluded that such occurrences, ever more frequent and more damaging “should be a wake-up call to the United Nations, and, in particular this Organisation”.
“It is time for us to work together in building resilience and capacity, on the basis of adaptation and mitigation, faced with climate change challenges and more emphasis on tangible UNESCO activities that address the vulnerabilities in our islands. The dialogue should not only be limited to the ethical principles surrounding climate change”. “The issue is broader and requires urgent attention”, added Mr. Maynard.
Added Dr. David Doyle, the Federation’s Ambassador to UNESCO in Paris, “Aside from placing more emphasis in the UNESCO programmes on broader preparations for disaster, such as new building materials and housing on vulnerable, coastal lands, it brings into focus the misplaced concept of using per capita criteria in securing assistance funding from international funding agencies.
He noted that SIDS, whatever their per capital income status, face accentuated vulnerabilities due to climate change-inflicted storms, tsunami and coastal erosion, in addition to the small island’s physical remoteness, insularity and dis-economies of scale.
The infrastructure and agriculture, in particular, have sustained significant damage over the past decade as a consequence of climate change impacts, resulting in the vulnerability throughout the Caribbean SIDS dramatically increasing”.
It was reported that Hurricane Irma, in some Caribbean territories, had wiped out the value of assets in excess of their annual GDP.