Climate Change hindered development of small islands, says PM Skerrit at UNITAD

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Dominica: Prime Roosevelt Skerrit attended the virtual round table discussion of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development – UNCTAD on Wednesday that held a discussion on challenges and opportunities for developing states that are highly dependent on commodities export and trade.

While addressing the conference, PM Skerrit noted the impact of climate change that hindered and slowed down the development process of SIDS – Small Island Developing States.

He noted that the majority of SIDS states are stuck in a build, destroy, rebuild cycle caused by the frequency and severity of consequences of tropical storms.

Following the statement, he highlighted that these impacts had prompted the SIDS nations within the CARICOM region to pursue a resilience-building agenda to climate-proof.

He also noted that the SIDS deal with the burden of high debt, limited resources, and human capital, among many other challenges that all stop the nations’ growth, while many countries have been critically affected by lost tourism revenue that forced them to redirect finances for the management of the ongoing health crisis. This all concludes that there is limited availability for investments in infrastructure, agriculture, education and social safety net programs.

“In Dominica, Hurricane Maria prompted me to express the vision to make Dominica the first climate-resilient nation. Out of crisis and catastrophe, we created the Climate Resilience Agency for Dominica (CREAD) to lead and coordinate strategic initiatives across sectors, including the development of our Climate Resilience and Recovery Plan to 2030 (the CRRP),” Prime Minister added.

PM Skerrit focused that the nations at the CARICOM level are focusing
to enhance their food security.

Emphasizing what countries must do, he added that the nations require to analyze more targeted investments in the regional manufacturing and processing facilities, increased production of fresh poultry and meat to reduce dependence on imported supplies, improved storage, production and export of fish and a revised tax and tariff structure that encourages competitiveness among producers and exporters of member states.

In terms of dealing with water scarcity, the prime minister focused that the member states will have to build their capacity and increase access to more readily available water resources. They can also construct hydraulic structures to regulate supply and convey water to community reservoirs and homes, treatment of wastewater, desalination and demand management to increase efficiency.

He noticed that Dominica is working to increase the use of renewable energy in terms of cheaper electricity through the responsible exploitation of our country’s vast geothermal resources.

“One of the more obvious ways to boost resilience in commodity-dependent countries is to shift focus to service-based industries. We must look to consolidate our country’s built-in advantages and leverage these to sustain economies and enhance livelihoods,” he further added.

Concluding his address, he noted that although this COVID-19 pandemic has brought many challenges ahead of the world, at the same time, it has also provided the opportunity to replan our policies and be innovative as well as creative.