The Jamaican Prime Minister was speaking at the Combined Forum hosted at the Queen Elizabeth Centre, London, United Kingdom (UK).
“The issue of climate change is not a philosophical one, we don’t have time in defending the credibility of whether or not it is real or fake. It is an existential threat, in the real sense of SIDS such as those in the Caribbean and the Pacific,” he pointed out.
The variability in weather events and the rising sea levels were described by Prime Minister Holness as “real issues” for the small states, pointing to the three category-five hurricanes that ripped through a number of Caribbean countries in 2017.
According to Holness, regrettably, the issue of climate change, from a SIDS perspective seems to be “more talk than substance.” His comment was welcomed with loud applause by those gathered.
Further, he noted that “funding for mitigation and adaptation cannot be treated as aid, in other words, it really makes no sense after the event has occurred, we try to rebuild through aid.”
The Prime Minister said it is imperative that the conversation around climate change, financing be treated as an investment, “that we make the investment in the resilience of the countries that have invested so that they can withstand and recover quickly from these variable and extreme weather events.”
Guyana’s Second Vice President and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Carl Greenidge also elaborating on the issue of climate change on the sidelines of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), said President David Granger continues to lobby the importance of Green State governance, as well as cooperation and collaboration on tackling the issue.
He noted that “the utility of lessons about how to develop environmentally, taking into account the reality of people, you can’t have a programme that assumes that people are not part and parcel of that, not merely as managers but also as beneficiaries.”
The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting continues tomorrow with a roundtable discussion of senior business leaders and the Heads of Government to be hosted.
The CHOGM is being held under the theme “Towards a common future,” with forums focusing on women, business, youth, and people being hosted simultaneously.
Today’s meeting featured representatives of all four forums involved in discussions and saw presentations by Commonwealth Secretary-General, Rt. Hon. Patricia Scotland, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Theresa May and Microsoft Founder, Bill Gates.
The Secretary-General pointed out that with the collaboration of all stakeholders, collectively the Commonwealth, will be responsive to the needs of member states.
The UK Prime Minister stressed that if the Commonwealth is to persevere, its relevance and purpose must be demonstrated. “We must show what the Commonwealth is capable of and this Summit (CHOGM) can be the moment where that change begins.”
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