In St. Kitts and Nevis, Commonwealth SG talks of helping SIDS build climate resilience

Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis, the Hon. Timothy Harris and Commonwealth Secretary-General, Baroness Patricia Scotland (Photo via Office of the Prime Minister)
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BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS, MAY 2ND, 2018 (PRESS SEC) – St. Kitts and Nevis’ Prime Minister, Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris, met with Rt. Hon. Patricia Scotland QC today, Wednesday, May 2nd, 2018, at Government Headquarters. The Prime Minister’s discussion with the Commonwealth Secretary-General was informed by their shared values and concern for Small Island Developing States (SIDS).

Rt. Hon. Patricia Scotland QC, who was born in Dominica, began her Caribbean tour on Monday ahead of the 2018 Atlantic hurricane season, which runs from June 1st through November 30th.

Following today’s meeting with Prime Minister Harris, the Commonwealth Secretary-General held a Press Conference at Government Headquarters, where she updated members of the local media on the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) that was held last month in London.

“The Commonwealth Heads of Government concentrated a lot on small states and also climate change, and the intense vulnerability that small island states face as a result of climate [change],” Rt. Hon. Patricia Scotland QC said, adding, “It poses an existential threat.”

The Commonwealth Secretary-General went on to note that, “The fear we have is that next season will be potentially as bad as last season; some fear it might be worse.”
Rt. Hon. Patricia Scotland QC, then asserted, “We have to prepare and build back better, if and when it happens. So the Commonwealth came together to say, ‘what can we do about this practically?’”

She explained that one of the initiatives on this front is the Blue Charter of principles for sustainable ocean development, which the 53 Commonwealth nations adopted at last month’s CHOGM. This Blue Charter will help countries develop an integrated approach in building the Blue Economy, one that supports artisanal fishing and the contributions of young people and women.

The World Bank defines the Blue Economy as the sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods and jobs, and ocean ecosystem health. The Blue Economy encompasses climate change, fisheries, maritime transport, renewable energy, tourism, and waste management.

During her visit to St. Kitts and Nevis, the Commonwealth Secretary-General also held separate meetings with Cabinet members, including Minister of Tourism, International Trade, Industry and Commerce, Hon. Lindsay Grant, and the Minister of Agriculture, Lands and Cooperatives et al., Hon. Eugene Hamilton. Discussions touched on the Blue Charter, as well as a host of matters related to climate resilience, mitigation and adaptation planning.

“In the [Commonwealth] Secretariat, we are looking at creating a toolkit of all the best practice [on building climate resilience, for instance] to share,” Rt. Hon. Patricia Scotland QC said at today’s press conference in St. Kitts.

The Commonwealth Secretary-General added, “One of the things that we know is that, structurally, there is more understanding of how to build sustainable buildings which are more capable of withstanding hurricanes and climatic episodes. So we are working with partners who have actually built resilient buildings that have withstood hurricanes with the force that we are now looking at.”

A CARICOM-United Nations High-Level Pledging Conference held last November in New York, which Prime Minister Harris attended, mobilized over $2 billion from international donors to help hurricane-hit Caribbean nations “build back better.” It was held under the theme Building a More Climate Resilient Community.

Last September, Prime Minister Harris and his Cabinet met on Friday 22nd for a post-Hurricane Maria session. There, they began the process of critically evaluating disaster mitigation and preparedness with a view to upgrading present protocols. One of the considerations raised was the need for general improvements in current building codes in order to improve the resilience of commercial and residential properties. (Office of the Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis Press Release)

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