Speaking at an International Monetary Fund (IMF) Conference in Washington Prime Minister Holness said “I have read where our neighbour Mexico, is making major attempts to develop an insurance instrument for their coral reefs – but I don’t want us in the Caribbean to simply read about these things, I want us to be proactive… and to lead the way in crafting and implementing the world’s leading, and most innovative resilience building instruments ever,” Holness said.
“I want us to expertly ride that wave, and in doing so, I want to seek support from our development partners to accelerate the success that we have been making with projects such as the “Reef restoration using resilient corals project” funded by the IDB - at the University of the West Indies, Centre for Marine Science,” he noted.
“Our Caribbean scientists have been doing DNA testing on various corals to identify which ones are climate-change resilient and have already begun to propagate these specific corals for replanting in coastal systems – with the full engagement of fisherfolk,” Holness explained.
Perhaps one of the most important issues facing us as Caribbean islands stems from the climate impact of Ocean Acidification for which the National Oceanographic And Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has stated alarming numbers.
“They state that a 30% increase in the acidification of our oceans has occurred since the industrial period. With no signs of abatement, Caribbean Nations require the immediate attention and requisite funding to build resilience to this specific climate impact,” Holness declared.
“This climate impact, that we don’t usually speak about, poses a clear and present danger to us in the Caribbean – especially given our heavy reliance on our reefs and shell fish industry.
“Let us think about it…. the cultural and economic value of sea egg industry of Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean islands or the conch industry of Bahamas and Jamaica – which by the way contributes approximately 1% to our GDP and employs hundreds,” ne noted.
“I cannot even begin to conceive of the resulting macro and micro economic fallout this will cause. However, I note that the shellfish industry in the East and West Coast of the USA have begun to utilize insurance products designed to offset the impacts of Ocean Acidification…is this another possible avenue that we should be looking at ?” Holness questioned.
He said it was “clear, that both the sudden and slow onset climate events are drivers of increasing disaster risks. They all threaten to undermine many of the critical development gains being made by our countries.”
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