Thursday, December 3, 2015
Thursday, December 3, 2015
Here follows a statement delivered by Prime Minister Perry Christie at a COP21 high-level event on Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and the Climate Challenge at the Pershing Hall Hotel in Paris, 1 December, 2015:
The Bahamas welcomes this opportunity to participate in such a timely dialogue on Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and the Climate Challenge.
Yesterday, we outlined our positions going into the final leg of negotiations toward an internationally legally binding Paris agreement. Today, I would like to focus on the priority areas for my country as it regards the development cooperation necessary to realize whatever we decide here in Paris, as well as the 2030 Agenda, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the SAMOA Pathway.
It bears repeating that the special circumstances of SIDS must be explicitly recognised in the Paris Agreement, as they have been in the 2030 Agenda and the SAMOA Pathway. The Agreement should allow for the flexibility needed to overcome limited human, financial and technical capacities.
The Bahamas, as a small island developing State, shares many of the unique characteristic and special circumstances of its fellow SIDS. We are extremely vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change, and are faced with similar constraints in meeting our goals in all three dimensions of sustainable development.
Regrettably, because of our high GDP per capita, we are often cut off from much needed concessional and grant funding. It is in this context that The Bahamas continues to underscore that Gross Domestic Product/Gross National Income per capita should not serve as the main component in determining the access that SIDS have to financial resources for our adaptation needs in particular.
As soon as I return home, I intend also to look at the question of insurance and how this can help us recover the loss and damage from these storms. Insurance should be there to help in this, and its applications ought to help and the country should not be denied compensation by resort to outdated legalisms. This was our most recent experience with Hurricane Joaquin.
This is not to say that The Bahamas does not take primary responsibility for its own development.
Indeed, my government has initiated steps toward the first National Development Plan for The Bahamas, with a vision for 2040. Central to this plan is climate change adaptation and mitigation, as well as environmental protection and conservation. We are looking at creating green jobs, particularly as it relates to providing opportunities for youth to reduce the unemployed youth statistics; and we are developing critical infrastructure in pursuit of our sustainable development goals.
Already, we have made concerted efforts to adapt to the adverse effects of climate change. We have strengthened building codes; built new coastal defences; and moved to relocate vulnerable communities – all through use of our national resources.
We have also outlined the actions that The Bahamas will take in its efforts to assume responsibility for the country’s global greenhouse gas emissions. Among them is the development of indigenous renewable energy resources with the goal of increasing the percentage of renewables in the energy mix to a minimum of 30% by 2030.
These are very expensive and resource-intensive pursuits, and we need the support of the international community!
We must adopt, at the end of next week, an internationally legally binding agreement under the Convention that is in the form of a protocol and is applicable to all Parties.
We must recognise the 100 billion per year pledge as an existing commitments by developed countries that needs to be honoured and built upon in the post-2020 period. All existing funds under the Convention and the Kyoto Protocol should be available to serve the implementation of the Paris Agreement.
We must also explore new channels of development cooperation, with a focus on SIDS. There is room for dialogue on the needs of small island developing States, within the context of the United Nations Development Cooperation Forum, for example.
Last month, Hurricane Joaquin decimated whole island economies in the Southern and Central Bahamas. The Estimate of the damage is 100 million dollars. The sea took weeks to recede. Whole communities were cut off. There is no doubt what The Bahamas faces if something does not change.
We SIDS countries must continue to work together and emphasize our special circumstances. We hope that this will bring about meaningful support to our efforts toward sustainable development.
Thank you, Mr Moderator.