Antigua and Barbuda says wealthy nations have a moral responsibility to rebuild hurricane battered region

UNITED NATIONS, Nov 21, CMC – Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne Tuesday said wealthy countries had a moral obligation to rebuild his island battered by a recent hurricane, while expressing support for proposal by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) for a Caribbean Resilience Fund to finance the construction of climate resilient communities.

“We contend that liability for the destruction of Barbuda and the dislocation of its residents, resides with those whose excessive carbon emissions have unleashed the demons of climate change.

“Justice and fairness requires that the burden of building a more climate resilient community, should not fall to the victims of climate change alone,” Browne said,, adding that he was also concerned about the recent position of the Development Committee of the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) regarding eligibility for aid by so-called middle-income countries.

Browne at UNClimate
Prime Minister Gaston Browne at CARICOM-UN High
Level Pledging Conference

“The OECD position insists that aid would only be triggered if countries, impacted by disasters, suffer a long-term economic decline and that no existing aid is diverted.

But, by the time aid is triggered in those circumstances, the economic decline and human suffering, as well as the long-term impact, would have plunged these countries into irreversible ruin. The OECD would be helpful if it reconsidered this position and adopt a more proactive and effective one,” Browne told the   Caribbean Community (CARICOM) United Nations High Level Pledging Conference here.

Most of the Caribbean countries are categorized as middle- to high-income and are largely ineligible for concessional development financing and Official Development Assistance (ODA), due to the use of gross domestic product (GDP) per capita as a principal criterion.

Browne told the conference that the people of the Caribbean islands impacted by the hurricanes “through no fault of their own, call on this conference to pledge and deliver meaningful support, so that they can rebuild to withstand the dreadful effects of climate change in the future, and make their lives safer”.

The Antigua and Barbuda prime minister said that climate change recognises no borders, does not discriminate between big or small, developed or developing, rich or poor, Hindu, Muslim Christian or Jew.

“All are involved; all are consumed. But, of course, the small, the poor, and the vulnerable are the worst affected. And, affected not through their own fault, but because of the culpability of others. Years of their peoples’ hard work and development are scattered asunder, escalating unemployment, poverty and hardship.”

Browne said that in the Caribbean, “we now have a new category of citizens, climate refugees,” who left homeless, jobless, and helpless by ferocious Category 5 hurricanes have been forced to flee their motherlands.

“Their future is uncertain and their prospects are unclear. Two months after hurricanes cut a swathe of destruction through the Caribbean, countries continue to lie in ruin.”

He said in the case of Barbuda, his administration simply does not have the resources to rebuild swiftly, and the people of Barbuda have themselves been stripped of the means of restoring their livelihood.  “Presently, there is no economic activity on Barbuda,” Browne said, noting that while some governments and agencies have provided relief to residents of Barbuda who had to be evacuated to Antigua , the bulk of the cost of maintaining them has been met by his government.

“The cost has been high and the burden heavy, hindering our capacity to invest in infrastructure and other capital projects that would grow our economy, increase employment and reduce poverty. Our progress has been retarded, thereby undermining our achievement of the sustainable development goals.”

But he promised that Antigua and Barbuda and indeed the Caribbean “will not shirk from our responsibility to the people of Barbuda and to rebuilding Barbuda, however long it takes.

“And, we are determined to rebuild Barbuda, not only so that it can stand-up to the assaults of Climate Change, but as an example of a fully climate-resilient, that totally green and organic island. One that is productive, income-generating and economically viable.”

The Antigua and Barbuda prime minister said that small island developing states such as Antigua and Barbuda, will never attain their ambition of robust resilience to the global challenge of climate change, until developed countries provide sustained, predictable and adequate finance, and capacity-building support, to adapt and mitigate against the harmful effects of climate change.

“In this connection, my government emphasises its support for the call by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean for a Caribbean Resilience Fund to write down public debt and create, in part, the financing necessary to fund the construction of climate resilient communities,” Browne told the conference.

CMC/pr/ir/2017

 

 

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A Moment with the Registrar of Lands

by STAFF WRITER

UNITED NATIONS, Nov 21, CMC – Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne Tuesday said wealthy countries had a moral obligation to rebuild his island battered by a recent hurricane, while expressing support for proposal by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) for a Caribbean Resilience Fund to finance the construction of climate resilient communities.

“We contend that liability for the destruction of Barbuda and the dislocation of its residents, resides with those whose excessive carbon emissions have unleashed the demons of climate change.

“Justice and fairness requires that the burden of building a more climate resilient community, should not fall to the victims of climate change alone,” Browne said,, adding that he was also concerned about the recent position of the Development Committee of the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) regarding eligibility for aid by so-called middle-income countries.

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Browne at UNClimate
Prime Minister Gaston Browne at CARICOM-UN High
Level Pledging Conference

“The OECD position insists that aid would only be triggered if countries, impacted by disasters, suffer a long-term economic decline and that no existing aid is diverted.

But, by the time aid is triggered in those circumstances, the economic decline and human suffering, as well as the long-term impact, would have plunged these countries into irreversible ruin. The OECD would be helpful if it reconsidered this position and adopt a more proactive and effective one,” Browne told the   Caribbean Community (CARICOM) United Nations High Level Pledging Conference here.

Most of the Caribbean countries are categorized as middle- to high-income and are largely ineligible for concessional development financing and Official Development Assistance (ODA), due to the use of gross domestic product (GDP) per capita as a principal criterion.

Browne told the conference that the people of the Caribbean islands impacted by the hurricanes “through no fault of their own, call on this conference to pledge and deliver meaningful support, so that they can rebuild to withstand the dreadful effects of climate change in the future, and make their lives safer”.

The Antigua and Barbuda prime minister said that climate change recognises no borders, does not discriminate between big or small, developed or developing, rich or poor, Hindu, Muslim Christian or Jew.

“All are involved; all are consumed. But, of course, the small, the poor, and the vulnerable are the worst affected. And, affected not through their own fault, but because of the culpability of others. Years of their peoples’ hard work and development are scattered asunder, escalating unemployment, poverty and hardship.”

Browne said that in the Caribbean, “we now have a new category of citizens, climate refugees,” who left homeless, jobless, and helpless by ferocious Category 5 hurricanes have been forced to flee their motherlands.

“Their future is uncertain and their prospects are unclear. Two months after hurricanes cut a swathe of destruction through the Caribbean, countries continue to lie in ruin.”

He said in the case of Barbuda, his administration simply does not have the resources to rebuild swiftly, and the people of Barbuda have themselves been stripped of the means of restoring their livelihood.  “Presently, there is no economic activity on Barbuda,” Browne said, noting that while some governments and agencies have provided relief to residents of Barbuda who had to be evacuated to Antigua , the bulk of the cost of maintaining them has been met by his government.

“The cost has been high and the burden heavy, hindering our capacity to invest in infrastructure and other capital projects that would grow our economy, increase employment and reduce poverty. Our progress has been retarded, thereby undermining our achievement of the sustainable development goals.”

But he promised that Antigua and Barbuda and indeed the Caribbean “will not shirk from our responsibility to the people of Barbuda and to rebuilding Barbuda, however long it takes.

“And, we are determined to rebuild Barbuda, not only so that it can stand-up to the assaults of Climate Change, but as an example of a fully climate-resilient, that totally green and organic island. One that is productive, income-generating and economically viable.”

The Antigua and Barbuda prime minister said that small island developing states such as Antigua and Barbuda, will never attain their ambition of robust resilience to the global challenge of climate change, until developed countries provide sustained, predictable and adequate finance, and capacity-building support, to adapt and mitigate against the harmful effects of climate change.

“In this connection, my government emphasises its support for the call by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean for a Caribbean Resilience Fund to write down public debt and create, in part, the financing necessary to fund the construction of climate resilient communities,” Browne told the conference.

CMC/pr/ir/2017