Prime Minister Freundel Stuart (centre) is pictured as he addressed the US Chamber of Commerce in Washington, DC, yesterday. (C. Pitt/BGIS)

"Small island developing states (SIDS) like ours in the Caribbean are also particularly vulnerable to the potential negative impact of natural disasters and climate change."

This realisation was brought to the fore yesterday by Prime Minister Freundel Stuart as he spoke to these issues during a wide-ranging address to the American Chamber of Commerce in the US capital.

Observing that every year the Caribbean prepared for the hurricane season, he pointed out that, natural disasters had the potential to wipe out the entire Gross Domestic Product of a small island in just a couple of hours.??

"In order to counteract the impact of natural disasters, we have been very active in the Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility. This facility is a parametric scheme which, based on a paid premium with embedded triggers, allows countries to receive a guaranteed payout when disaster strikes. In addition, the enactment of building codes and other mitigation measures will serve us in good stead to cope with these events," Mr. Stuart submitted.

With respect to climate change, he said that although the region was amongst the world’s smallest polluters, the islands of the Caribbean suffered mostly from the effects of increased greenhouse gas emissions and consequently, the rise of global warming.?? "Our island states are not only small, but also fragile. For example, sea level rise concerns us greatly as many of our coastal assets – beaches, property, among others, could be easily wiped out. Therefore, in Barbados we have invested heavily in revetments and sea defences to safeguard our prized beaches and coastal assets.

"This has come at tremendous costs to our economy. For small island developing states, the issue today is how to balance the costs of implementing mitigation measures against climate change without increasing debt loads and adversely affecting economic growth and investment. It is Barbados’ firm belief that vulnerable countries like ours in the Caribbean have to be able to access specifically designated global funds," Mr. Stuart reasoned.

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