BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, CMC – In 2017, the Caribbean felt the full brunt of climate change with a warning that current trends indicate that there will be no respite.
Within a two-week period, Hurricanes Irma and Maria brought home the reality of the impact of climate change as they churned their way across the Lesser Antilles destroying everything in their paths. Hurricane Harvey had in August set the stage for what was to come; with devastation in Houston, Texas, amounting to nearly US$200billion.
“The unprecedented nature of this climatic event highlights the unusual nature of weather patterns that continue to affect nations across the globe,” the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretary General Irwin LaRocque said in a message to United States President Donald Trump, as Harvey made landfall in the United States after whipping up strong winds and heavy rains in the Caribbean.
It took less than a month for his statement to bear fruit. Hurricanes Irma and Maria, two Category 5 storms left so many Caribbean islands devastated in September that the CARICOM Chairman and Grenada’s Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell said “there can be no question that for us in the Caribbean, climate change is an existential threat”. (more…)
END OF YEAR MESSAGE
BY THE CHAIRMAN OF THE CARIBBEAN COMMUNITY
DR. THE HONOURABLE KEITH MITCHELL
PRIME MINISTER OF GRENADA
There is no doubt that 2017 has been a most eventful year for the Caribbean Community (CARICOM). We experienced a scale of multi-country devastation never before seen in the Region as two category five Hurricanes, Irma and Maria, raged through the Caribbean within two weeks.
The Governments and people of our Community immediately responded to assist their brothers and sisters with the generosity and spirit of togetherness which is our trademark. I therefore must pay tribute to those who so willingly extended a helping hand in the hour of need of our brothers and sisters in the stricken countries.
Even before the hurricane season was over, the resilient people that we are, we had begun to rally. We determined that we could use the rebuilding process to become the first climate resilient region in the world. Recognising that we did not have the resources to achieve that goal on our own, we sought the assistance of the international community.
First, in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), we organised the CARICOM-UN High Level Pledging Conference, “Building a More Climate-Resilient Community,” which was held in November at the UN Headquarters in New York. It brought together nearly 400 high-level representatives from governments, multilateral and civil society organisations and the private sector, and raised more than US$1.3 billion in pledges and over $1 billion in loans and debt relief.