Jamaica’s Prime Minister Andrew Holness and France’s President Emmanuel Macron have been asked by the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to lead a global political initiative to mobilise climate change financing for developing nations.
The initiative which requires the two nations to mobilise government and private sector support by 2020 to provide the US$100bn per annum required for adaptation and mitigation in developing countries was outlined in a letter from the UN Secretary General that observed Jamaica’s leadership on the issue. The sums involved were previously agreed by all governments in the context of Paris Agreement on Climate Change, from both public and private sources. However, since then the Trump administration in the US has withdrawn.
Addressing the General Assembly in New York, Holness said that Jamaica and its CARICOM partners did not have the luxury of engaging in a philosophical debate on climate change. “For five months every year, the Caribbean region lives in fear of super storms. The hurricane devastation wreaked on Dominica could be compared to a nuclear event. The global cost of climate-related disasters was US$320bn last year”, Jamaica’s Prime Minister said.
He urged world leaders to contemplate how countries who are, to a great extent, not significant contributors to climate change, are the most vulnerable to its impact and have the least capacity to respond to its challenges. Jamaica, he said, looks forward to the climate change summit in 2019.
In other remarks to the General Assembly, Holness called for international financial institutions to address the difficulties faced by middle-income countries in obtaining development financing. To achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (the UN SDG’S), various sources of additional funding must be tapped, he said. “Many small island developing States (SIDs) are deemed to have graduated to middle‑income status based on their GDP. Yet many remain highly indebted and vulnerable”, he observed.
He commended the work of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) in this area and called for other international financial institutions to address the problem known as the “middle‑income countries”.
During the course of his address, Jamaica’s Prime Minister made clear that he and the rest of CARICOM wanted to see the US lift its embargo on Cuba, arguing that societies function best within an inclusive global environment where no one feels left behind.
Holness said that implementation of the SDGs (the UN sustainable development goals) must be people-centred. “Embargoes and other financial and economic barriers must not become tools to prevent people such as our neighbours, the citizens of the Republic of Cuba, from attaining their right to development. Jamaica continues to call for a lifting of the embargoes against that country,” he told the UN General Assembly.
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