TANGIER, Morocco – Dominica’s Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit sys that CARICOM would regard the upcoming United Nations Climate Change Conference COP 28 as a “grave injustice to small states, it is plays out as another talk shop”.
COP 28 gets under way in Dubai from November 30 to December 12, and Skerrit, who is also the CARICOM chairman, said he has used every opportunity to advocate for the event “to be a COP of Action”.
Addressing the MEDays , an annual international forum held under the patronage of King Mohammed VI, Skerrit said all parties “should ensure that decisions from this staging of COP-28, delivers on the imperatives of the Paris Agreement for capacity building and technology transfer; as well as the provision of critical climate financing to our small states, disproportionately affected by climate change.
“For us, these issues constitute the polycrises; and we understand better than most, the concept of an interconnected world plagued with ever-increasing challenges to economic and social development,” he told the one-day conference being held under the theme “Polycrisis, Polyworld”.
MEDays is the main event organized by the Amadeus Institute and discusses opinions and recommendations from high level international policymakers on issues related to energy and sustainability, political instability in Africa, migration crises, and global leadership, governance and multilateralism.
Skerrit said that Caribbean governments are preoccupied with matters of border security; increasing unemployment; high levels of crime and gun violence; and the challenges of intraregional air-travel, all of which will have tremendous implications for our region if not adequately addressed.
“The reality for small island states, like Dominica, is that our countries face the burden of high debt, particularly resulting from the constant response to climate related disasters and external shocks.”
Skerrit said these “unfortunate circumstances” have constrained the Caribbean’s already limited fiscal space, adding that access to development financing and foreign direct investment remains a serious challenge.
“I believe that this current global reality calls for a reset of our priorities and a willingness to source mutual solutions to common problems.”
He said as leaders of small countries, tasked with transitioning their countries to ensure that they are more resilient, to natural disasters and social and economic upheaval brought on by wars and pandemics, “we must consider a comprehensive, multilateral and multi-stakeholder response.
“We must redefine multilateralism into effective cooperation and inclusion so that the polyworld in which we now exist, can work for the good of all our peoples,” Skerrit said, adding that “at the CARICOM level, we are already pursuing this model of cooperation and harmonizing as collective actions to achieve our sustainable development goals.
“We have recognized the need to develop our collective capacity, to supply the needs of our people, enhance food security and respond to pressing challenges in intra-regional transportation and trade.”
The Dominica Prime Minister told the conference that CARICOM countries are also committed to transitioning to clean, renewable energy to build economic and environmental resilience. Improvements in energy efficiency and greater utilization of domestic renewable energy resources will boost their economic future and overall resistance to external shocks.
“In Dominica, our mission is to increase the use of renewable energy in the provision of more affordable electricity, through the responsible exploration of our country’s vast geothermal resource. From the generation of clean power, we will create new green jobs, increase productivity and foreign direct investment and enable overall growth.”
He said he welcomes the opportunity to share experiences and lessons from the perspective of small, developing islands; and in turn, to learn from the best practices of the representatives present.
“ We are particularly keen on developing mutually beneficial links with our brothers and sisters on the African Continent, based on our deep historic and cultural ties.”
Skerrit said that the opening of more than 30 consulates, from 2019, in the cities of Dakhla and Laâyoune, as well as the growing support for the Moroccan Autonomy Plan, reflect the substantial bilateral and multilateral diplomatic efforts geared towards ensuring the Southern Provinces’ economic dynamism.
He said the opening up of this continent to the world is transparent, partnership-driven and visionary
“As highlighted by the United Nations Security Council’s most recent UN Resolution 2703, the existing political deadlock may only be solved through a just, lasting and mutually acceptable solution, based on compromise; all embodied by the Moroccan Autonomy Plan.
“Today, I reiterate my country’s firm commitment to the Autonomy Plan as the only credible and serious basis to end this long-lasting dispute. As the chorus of international support gets louder and stronger, it is my honour to join my voice to those who seek unity and sovereignty.”
Prime Minister Skerrit urged delegates to use “this important platform, to collaborate and share knowledge on the key development issues before us, among them, geopolitics and energy security, and the pursuit of peace in a combative global environment.
“The realities of our times compel us to source new approaches to prepare and empower citizens to face an uncertain, but hopeful future. We count on the advocacy of the MEDays to improve international collaboration and partnerships, and support increased and more effective investments for all states – large and small, developing and developed, rich and poor.”
In his address, the CARICOM chairman said that MEDays was taking place at a time of “unprecedented global uncertainty”, still contending with the fall-out of a global pandemic, which has left in its wake, lasting economic and social disruption
“Many of our countries were severely impacted by job losses and depleted tourism revenues. Governments the world over were forced to redirect finances to manage the COVID-19 pandemic, even in countries with some of the best health systems,” Skerrit said , adding that “these decisions resulted in reduced investment in infrastructure, agriculture, education, tourism and many other programs, including those that are social safety nets for the most vulnerable”.
He said the Russia-Ukraine conflict has further disrupted economic activity and triggered inflationary shocks around the world.
“That war is contributing to rising commodity and energy costs, food shortages; and is severely exacerbating the supply chain issues set off by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“In more recent times, the escalating conflict between Israel and Palestine and the instability that threatens the Middle East and the wider world have added to global insecurities,” Skerrit added.