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Global teamwork needed to effectively address challenges of climate change – PM Gonsalves

Global teamwork needed to effectively address  challenges of climate change – PM Gonsalves
Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves


International co-operation is essential to addressing the challenges of modern globalisation and sustainable development.

This was one of the points highlighted in Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves’ address to the United Nations General Assembly on September 27 in New York.

Gonsalves’ speech focused significantly on the impacts of climate change and said the phenomenon was the “menacing manifestation of a failed multilateralism”.

“As emissions continue to increase, legally-binding limits are recast as voluntary targets, and the worst offenders hypocritically highlight the specks of pollution in others’ eyes, to distract from the beam in their own. At the same time, many more needlessly suffer and die while indisputably urgent global action is intentionally thwarted by selfish short-termists and convenient climate-deniers,” he said.

Using the Bahamas as the most recent example, Gonsalves said that every year, the ferocity of hurricanes increase and island states can only wait and hope that these storms pass without incident.

The prime minister also referenced other natural disasters which are considered as effects of climate change. These, he said, include floods, droughts, landslides and coastal erosion; all of which place hurdles on living and production in vulnerable nations.

“Our small islands – mere irrelevant pebbles in the eyes of some of the large, the rich and the powerful who ought to know better – must now form part of the new foundation of international co-operation. Our challenges must be acknowledged, and our voices – long humoured but unheard – must be listened to as the consistent advocates on behalf of people, progress, partnership and principle,” Gonsalves said.

The prime minister said that St Vincent and the Grenadines’ election to a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council was as a result of a campaign based on the assertion that the country was a friend to all, who was striving for a better world.

He added that it was an acknowledgement of the right and ability of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) to “meaningfully participate in the weightiest matters at the core of the United Nations’ raison d’être”.

Gonsalves said that there was a “metaphorical storm” wreaking havoc on the principles of the UN as hegemonic, unilateral and interventionist interference threaten to overwhelm nations.

“Too often, the UN’s foundation principles – like small island states – have been cast aside in the precipitate pursuit of convenient or expedient solutions. Too often, the world has come to regret such reckless haste,” the prime minister said.

He added that the United Nations “must recognise the folly in assuming that our organisations’ institutions will withstand the challenges of unilateralism, isolationism and inactivity. The proper responses to these challenges is a reinvigorated Assembly, a recommitment to principle, and a renewed focus on the diverse voices of all members of this noble institution”.

In his 30-minute speech he also touched on other critical issues of international importance, including the economic blockage of Venezuela and Cuba and foreign interference in Venezuela; the floundering Palestinian peace process; the demand for reparatory justice for the crimes of native genocide and African slavery and the establishment of the Africa-Brazil-Caribbean-Diaspora Commission; the establishment of our medicinal cannabis sector; the ‘bullying’ by the bureaucrats of the European Union of Caribbean financial centres; the flight of international banks from our shores, de-risking and loss of correspondent banking relations; and Taiwan’s quest to be included in the specialised agencies and bodies of the United Nations.