Baha Mar Convention Centre was abuzz, this morning (August 16), with a flurry of diplomatic activity and discussion focusing on the issue of Climate Change, which threatens the stability of The Bahamas and other Small Island Developing States.
It was the gathering of Caribbean Regional Heads of Government who are meeting in The Bahamas, August 16-17, in preparation for the United Nations Climate Change Conference of The Parties (COP27) that will take place later this year, in Egypt. Prime Minister of the Bahamas, and Minister of Finance, the Hon. Philip Davis gave the keynote address at today’s Opening Plenary Session. Like many other Small Island Developing States (SIDS), The Bahamas is one of the most threatened by the effects of climate change, among the top three. In the convention centre, delegates could view a display of the trail of devastation left by most recent storms, powerful at Category 4 and above – Joaquin (2015), Matthew (2016), Irma (2017), Dorian (2019) that took many lives, and livelihoods; and cost billions. Other thought-provoking scenes pointed the way forward through mitigation, adaptation, climate finance, climate risk insurance, deployment of technology and innovation, building carbon markets and enabling the blue economy to help stabilize the emergency.
The conclave takes place against the backdrop of COP26 held last year in Glasgow, Scotland, during which Prime Minister Davis championed the cause of SIDs and promised a renewed commitment to act. The primary goal of bringing the Caribbean leaders together, now, is to devise a regional position on climate change mitigation, and so speak with one voice at COP27.
Invited participants include heads of government and senior government officials from Antigua and Barbuda, Anguilla, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Montserrat, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, and the Turks and Caicos Islands. In his opening remarks, the Prime Minister said, “And so, Friends, I encourage your most active and vigorous participation in these discussions. Let us bring our best ideas to the table.”
He added, “If we advance our interests merely as individual Small Island Developing States, our voices will be dispersed, unable to be heard above louder, wealthier, carbon-producing interests.”
Such sentiments were also echoed by Donald Cooper, Director of Transparency, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), and Dr. Sameh Shoukry, President-Designate, 27th Conference of the Parties, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, in their remarks during the ceremony.
Present also were Cabinet Ministers, high-level government officials, regional and international stakeholders, local and international media. The Royal Bahamas Police Force and Royal Bahamas Defence Force combined bands to provide entertainment, and the Bahamas Christian Council gave opening and closing prayers.