Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley today underscored the importance of a collaborated and coordinated approach to matters, as she addressed the 22nd Meeting of the Forum of Ministers of Environment of Latin America and the Caribbean.
Ms. Mottley told her audience: “If we had had a coordinated approach even to the shutdowns that individual countries across the Americas and across the world are undertaking in defence of their own people, then we would have had and could still have a realistic chance of fighting COVID in a way that eliminates it from the global landscape.
“But our ability to do so has been compromised by the fact that each of us has taken individual action rather than globally coordinated action. This is the perfect example of why multilateralism must work for our benefit if we are to make a difference for our people across the region.”
The two-day virtual meeting has been organised by the Ministry of the Environment and National Beautification and its theme is: The Environmental Dimension of the COVID-19 Sustainable Recovery Response for Latin America and the Caribbean.
Ms. Mottley noted that the Government of Cuba had assisted many nations, including Barbados, to fight the pandemic. She pointed out that over 110 medical, nursing and lab technicians were on island giving support to the health officials.
“It is for this reason we support Cuba as being a country that should be globally recognised for its continued support to assist in the medical area, reinforcing our ability to protect our environment by allowing us to protect our people,” she explained.
The Prime Minister said environmental challenges travelled across boundaries and brought nations together, if allowed. She emphasised though that the political will must be present for that to happen.
She stated that the Caribbean region continues to be on the frontline of major issues of the climate crisis, including hurricanes and storms.
In giving an example, she noted that as she spoke, Barbados was being affected by significant currents which were decimating parts of the west and northern coasts. She added that the situation occurred annually and would continue to get worse.
She pointed out that the region generated about 350 tonnes of food waste daily, and it was placing greater pressure on the environment. Added to that, she continued, the region’s recycling rates were amongst the lowest in the world.
Ms. Mottley told her audience that fundamental reforms must take place in the Forum if they were to tackle the myriad environmental challenges. “This is a sine qua non if the Forum is to bring meaning to our people and if it is to remain relevant in this rapidly changing world.
“It is an issue for which urgent attention is needed. I am aware that recommendations have been made in this regard and I encourage us to continue our efforts in the intersessional period to strengthen the governance and effectiveness of the Forum,” she encouraged.
The Prime Minister stressed that the Forum must be able to translate decisionsinto tangible action on behalf of the people of the hemisphere.
The absence of this action, she indicated, would cause people to feel that officials were not seriously interested in changing the trajectory of the climate crisis.
She also stated that there was a need to look at the relationship between the Forum and the United Nations Environmental Assembly, and how to get consideration of the environmental issues faced in this hemisphere more explicitly reflected in the work of the Assembly.