Counsellor at the Permanent Mission of Barbados at the United Nations (UN), Selwyn Hart. (C. Pitt/BGIS)

Were it not for Small Island Developing States (SIDS), there would not be a high degree of international focus and attention on climate change.

This is the assertion of the Counsellor at the Permanent Mission of Barbados at the United Nations (UN), Selwyn Hart. His comments were made at the Sustainable Energy For All (SIDS) Conference at the Hilton, yesterday.

Stating that SIDS needed to be optimistic in their quest to garner international support, he said it was SIDS who first brought the climate change problem to the attention of the international community in the late 1980s.????????

"SIDS have driven [the cause], as one negotiator once said; we burn the flame of ambition in the climate change negotiations. So while the successes may not always be immediate, we have no choice but to be optimistic… By advocating and being firm and strong believers in our cause, we would influence and help to change the behaviour of the major players at the international level," he explained.

He reasoned that SIDS could not give up the fight because "our homes would disappear within the next generation if we don’t continue to press for the high degree of action required to address the challenges of climate change."

Barbados and other low-lying small islands have started to feel the negative impact of climate change, experiencing accelerated sea level rise, adverse weather patterns and an increase in more severe natural disasters.

Moreover, Mr. Hart pointed out that these occurrences would be detrimental to the livelihood of many Barbadians.??

"Many of the impacts are not necessarily immediate, but if we don’t have an ambitious international response to climate change, we will experience sea level rise of an order of magnitude that will make many of our beaches in Barbados uninhabitable.?? This will impact on people who are employed directly and indirectly in the tourism sector because most visitors come to Barbados for the quality of our beaches and our natural environment," he stressed.

He further said that if environmental issues were not addressed comprehensively at the global level, then small islands would not have a "natural environment to sell and the impact could be potentially devastating for the ordinary citizen and the country.?? This is why we need to continue an aggressive response to climate change".

The UN Counsellor also emphasised that it was critical that a SIDS perspective was embedded in all international agreements, whether those issues were environmental, social or economic.??

The Senior Foreign Service Officer explained that the Barbadian Ministry of Foreign Affairs works closely with the Ministry of Environment to determine Barbados’ priority areas for on-going negotiations in the UN framework convention on climate change and the UNDP General Assembly.

Noting that he was charged with the responsibility of representing Barbados and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in climate change conventions, he outlined that some of his duties were "to ensure that international action to climate change was robust and that action addresses the concerns of Small Island Developing States (SIDS)."

He reiterated: "[We must ensure that] international action has a high degree of ambition and urgency embedded in the international response to climate change.?? Urgency, ambition and safeguarding the future of the island states are some of the core concerns we articulate on behalf of Barbados and Barbadians."??


Author: Shamkoe Pil??

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