DPM Davis Challenges Developed Countries on Climate Change
The Deputy Prime Minister said the issue of Climate Change is not just simply about changing a way of life in The Bahamas, it is primarily about saving the lives of the Bahamian people.
Delivering The Bahamas’ Statement at the United Nations’ Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS) during the Second Plenary Meeting, Mr. Davis told delegates that The Bahamas is one of the most vulnerable countries in the world to Climate Change and its impacts – ranking amongst the top five of the almost 200 global countries that are Member States of the United Nations.
He said, for The Bahamas, Climate Change is about saving lives. “The Bahamas stands today to be heard, to bring attention to our plight, to bring about action now to sustain our business and to secure a brighter future [for our country and our people],” Mr. Davis said. “Climate Change is not simply about changing our way of life, it is primarily about saving lives.”
The Deputy Prime Minister said a World Bank Report indicates that The Bahamas “is one of the island states most vulnerable to sea level rise as approximately 80 per cent of the country’s landmass is within 1.5 metres of sea level. Hurricanes, Mr. Davis continued, “verily remind us of this fact.”
“Along with our Caribbean neighbours, The Bahamas is scattered in the Atlantic Ocean’s hurricane belt. We can all identify with the catastrophic eventualities of storm winds, floods and sea surges.”
Deputy Prime Minister Davis said The Government of The Bahamas is “deliberately working” to mitigate risk factors that may threaten the country’s stability through better Land Use Planning and the further strengthening of Geographic Information Systems by establishing the Bahamas National Geographic Information Systems Centre as a Department. “This enables us to enhance our use of geo-spatial data in understanding and assessing the mitigation actions required to address the adverse risks of Climate Change,” Mr. Davis said.
The Deputy Prime Minister said while the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) has “operated well over the years, again, our archipelagic nature makes it difficult and costly to assess damage from natural disasters across the country and to provide timely assistance to citizens in lesser populated, out-flung islands.
“Funding for the development or refurbishment of essential infrastructure to adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change is a necessity and a challenge,” Mr. Davis said. “If we truly believe that the polluter pays, the developed world must partner with The Bahamas to enhance our resilience.”
Mr. Davis said The Bahamas notes with keen interest, the operationalization of the Warsaw International Mechanism (WIM) for Loss and Damage associated with Climate Change impacts.
“We welcome the commitment to address and strengthen dialogue, coordination, coherence and synergies amongst relevant stakeholders. Solidarity is the watchword here. Together, we must enhance action to secure support – including financial, technological and capacity-building – to address loss and damage to our territories and ways of life,” Mr. Davis added.
Deputy Prime Minster Davis said for 20 years, The Bahamas has been amongst the leading voices with regards to Climate Change and its negative impacts on small island developing states. “We have been a part of AOSIS for more than 20 years of its existence. For the 20 years, we have shared visions, ideals and challenges. For 20 years, we have set forth our needs (and) for 20 years, we have been denied funding because of our per capita income,” Mr. Davis added.
The Deputy Prime Minister said the United Nations system could stand to enhance its support to SIDS like The Bahamas by strengthening its institutions where necessary and providing more focused and additional services.
Mr. Davis echoed the call for the establishment of a robust global follow-up system that would strengthen accountability at all levels and for effective monitoring and analysis of the implementation of the SAMOA Pathway. “This Assembly brings together a diverse representation of people – diverse, yet with common challenges. Those challenges are predicated on our geography and demography as small island states. As nations, we celebrated this commonality at the UN Global Conference on the Sustainable development of SIDS some 20 years ago.
“The Barbados Programme for Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island States agreed to in 1994, has served as the blueprint for action on sustainable development that should be undertaken by SIDS with the cooperation and assistance of the international community.
“The sustainable development priorities outlined therein and reaffirmed in the Mauritius Strategy for its further implementation and now the SAMOA Pathway, are rooted in the fact that SIDS remain a special case for sustainable development and continue o face unique and increasing challenges,” Mr. Davis added.