Habitat care urged
PM warns abuse of earth a risk to life
As he urged Barbadians to protect the environment, Prime Minister Freundel Stuart reminded them that when people mistreated their environment they put their own life chances at risk.
“Invariably, nature hits back. Global warning, ozone depletion, sea level rise and a miscellany of other responses are nature’s answer to human callousness and indifference,” Stuart said as he delivered the feature address today at the World Environment Day 2014 celebrations, broadcast globally from Independence Square. Stressing that the protection of the environment was especially important for small island developing states (SIDS) like Barbados, the Prime Minister called on the international community to pay more attention to these states’ needs and channel actions in a more efficient and systematic manner.
He further stressed the need for solidarity among the SIDS to ensure their concerns were taken on board at international fora.
Citing this year’s theme for World Environment Day, Raise Your Voice, Not The Sea Level, Stuart said: “Barbados wishes to underscore the need for an early agreement on the various unresolved issues in the climate change negotiations, including support for undertaking urgent adaptation action on the ground in SIDS; adequate financing, in particular, the finalization of the architecture and operationalization of the Green Climate Fund and conclusion of the discussion on loss and damage.”
Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves of St Vincent and the Grenadines argued that, confronted by today’s challenges, old-fashioned notions of sovereignty had to be discarded.
“What happens in such countries as the USA, China and Brazil, affects us here in the Caribbean. President Obama of the USA is trying to move the agenda on global warming forward; however, there are climate change deniers in the USA,” Gonsalves said.
Citing the main disasters that had presented major challenges for his country over the past four years, the St Vincent prime minister said: “In October 2010, Tropical Storm Tomas devastated the country leading to a financial loss equivalent to 12 per cent of the island’s gross domestic product. In 2011, the north-east of St Vincent was affected by a severe dry period. Then in 2012, two troughs merged dumping 12 1/2 inches of rain on the country in three hours.
“On this occasion the country suffered a loss of $330 million or 17 per cent of the country’s GDP.
“St Vincent is now experiencing a severe drought with water having to be rationed in some areas. That is the reality of climate change. In spite of this, some countries are not taking climate change seriously as an existential problem.”
Gonsalves, however, gave the assurance that in spite of these challenges he was pressing ahead with the creation of a green economy with development of solar energy, hydroelectric power and geothermal energy. He said that based on a survey carried out in the area of geothermal energy, his country might be able to sell that source of energy to Barbados.
Turning to the young members of the audience, which included students from the Ignatius Byer Primary School, the St Vincent leader said: “We want to create a better world for you, the young ones of the region. We do not want the apocalypse to fall on you.”
Gonsalves was one of several high-ranking officials and delegates who attended this morning’s 42nd Global Celebrations Of World Environment Day ceremony. The others included executive director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and UN Undersecretary General Dr Achim Steiner, and United Nations Regional Co-ordinator Stephen O’ Mally.
They, along with members of the Cabinet, MPs and other dignitaries, enjoyed several cultural presentations, including those by the Barbados Landship; poet and playwright Winston Farrell; steel panist Andre Forde; and the National Cultural Foundation Dance Ensemble. However, it was the youthful Ignatius Byer Primary School Choir, under the direction of Hugh Griffith, who attracted the most attention when they rendered Our Environment, a look at the changing lifestyle of Barbadians over the years.