Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office with responsibility for Culture, Senator Dr. Shantal Munro-Knight, speaking during the opening ceremony of the Barbados Youth Climate Action Summit and Expo, held under the theme: Beyond Talk, More Action at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, today. (T. Barker/BGIS)

Barbados, like other small island developing states (SIDS), is faced with a hostile international environment that no longer wants to understand arguments being put forward by those affected by climate change.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office with responsibility for Culture, Senator Dr. Shantal Munro-Knight, stated this during the opening ceremony of the Barbados Youth Climate Action Summit and Expo, held under the theme: Beyond Talk, More Action at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, this morning.

Senator Munro-Knight further stated that in many instances, the international community did not want to accept that countries like Barbados were vulnerable.

 “We have been fighting consistently for the acceptance of the recognition that small island developing states are vulnerable and that means something in the context of resources, of our response, and our future. It is a hostile environment,” she said.

But, the Senator made it clear that Government was not prepared to retreat from its position, and has asked the world to come to terms with the situation, the lack of delivery for SIDS and the day-to-day threats they faced.

“We have argued that in the context of vulnerability… [it] has to be defined by the extent by which a country’s entire infrastructure and GDP (gross domestic product) could be wiped out from one single event. That is the impact that we are facing,” she said.

Dr. Munro-Knight also charged that Barbados was facing a debt crisis that “in large part” did not emerge from a mismanagement of the economy, but because Government was forced to take up vital resources to address adaptation and mitigation costs.

“Because again, we have failed in order to deliver on the promises of the mobilisation of resources that are so critical for small island developing states. So, we have been forced to borrow to confront the challenges that we are facing,” she said.

To the youth present, the Senator told them that their voices meant something, but noted that they had to be backed up by action and an ongoing level of commitment.

“Too often we take up causes and they become flavour of the month…. This climate crisis is a cause that I am challenging you … to carry with you … now, and also as well for those that will come after you,” Dr. Munro-Knight said.

But, she stated, it was a challenge which leaders and international agencies committed to the youth must walk with them continuously.

“It means that we must walk with them continuously. It cannot be a flavour of the month. Our commitment must be demonstrated by our willingness to bring them to the table and also to put resources where our mouth is,” she charged.

Senator Munro-Knight added that it was up to governments, in the context of constrained resources, to lift societies and the economy in the context of what was being faced in the global economy.

julia.rawlins-bentham@barbados.gov.bb

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