“Should this new nor­mal per­sist, the cur­rent model of de­vel­op­ment that re­lies on sig­nif­i­cant pub­lic sec­tor in­vest­ment and for­eign direct in­vest­ment will not suc­ceed. In wealth­ier coun­tries such as the United States, Fed­eral dis­as­ter re­lief funds are quick

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL -

the earth’s sur­face tem­per­a­ture.

In his pre­sen­ta­tion to the Gen­eral Assem­bly days af­ter Maria, Prime Min­is­ter Roo­sevelt Sk­er­rit of Do­minica ex­plained the science be­hind these cat­a­strophic storms. Warmer air and sea tem­per­a­tures have per­ma­nently al­tered the cli­mate be­tween the Trop­ics of Can­cer and Capricorn. Prime Min­is­ter Sk­er­rit, fur­ther ob­served that these warmer tem­per­a­tures su­per­charge or­di­nary storms with dev­as­tat­ing ef­fect. This ar­gu­ment is sup­ported by the avail­able science. Warmer am­bi­ent tem­per­a­tures breed more fre­quent and se­vere weather events. Ac­cord­ing to the Na­tional Oceanic and At­mo­spheric Ad­min­is­tra­tion (NOAA), 2016 reg­is­tered the high­est global av­er­age sur­face tem­per­a­ture recorded since record keep­ing be­gan over 135 years ago. While El Nino is a con­tribut­ing fac­tor, many sci­en­tists point to an­other fac­tor: hu­man-in­duced cli­mate change.

Should this new nor­mal per­sist, the cur­rent model of de­vel­op­ment that re­lies on sig­nif­i­cant pub­lic sec­tor in­vest­ment and for­eign direct in­vest­ment will not suc­ceed. In wealth­ier coun­tries such as the United States, Fed­eral dis­as­ter re­lief funds are quickly chan­nelled to af­fected ar­eas, lead­ing to a boom in post ‘event’ con­struc­tion. For in­de­pen­dent Caribbean mi­crostates, such largesse is not avail­able. In the case of Do­minica, af­ter pick­ing up the pieces fol­low­ing Trop­i­cal Storm Erika two years ago, lo­cal au­thor­i­ties are now faced with the prospect of start­ing from scratch; again at the mercy of in­ter­na­tional donors and fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tions. This vi­cious cy­cle of dis­as­ter fol­lowed by pub­lic sec­tor bor­row­ing makes long-term de­vel­op­ment plan­ning near im­pos­si­ble. This is to say noth­ing of the dev­as­tat­ing ef­fects that such storms have on the pri­vate sec­tor.

The in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity must now take con­crete ac­tion to ad­dress what is quickly be­com­ing an ex­is­ten­tial threat to the Caribbean. In putting this claim to the Gen­eral Assem­bly, Prime di­rected at se­cur­ing an in­ter­na­tional set­tle­ment that would mean­ing­fully ad­dress the sys­temic risks that cli­mate change poses to small states. Such in­ter­ven­tions would be timely in the con­text of the up­com­ing World Bank/IMF au­tumn meet­ings: the WTO Min­is­te­rial Con­fer­ence, and UNFCCC COP23. Small States should col­lec­tively seek the fol­low­ing: (1) en­sure that tar­gets set un­der the Paris Cli­mate Change Ac­cord are met; (2) the Caribbean Cat­a­strophic Risk In­sur­ance Fa­cil­ity (CCRIF) must be strength­ened and scaled-up; (3) ad­di­tional con­ces­sion­ary finance should be made avail­able through the In­ter­na­tional Fi­nan­cial In­sti­tu­tions to strengthen re­silience and as­sist small states adapt to weather re­lated threats, and (4) small states at the WTO should lever­age their num­bers to se­cure duty free, quota free access to de­vel­oped coun­try mar­kets. A par­a­digm shift in global gov­er­nance is now needed if small is­land and coastal states are to sur­vive the new nor­mal.

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