During his Intervention at the 9th Summit of The Heads of State and Government of the Association of Caribbean States (ACS), in La Antigua, Guatemala, on May 12, 2023, Prime Minister and Minister of Finance the Hon. Philip Davis stated that the region’s over-reliance on imports means the people were too vulnerable to price hikes driven by events outside its borders, and meant that they all continue to funnel revenue outside the region, rather than keeping it at home.
“In The Bahamas, as in other countries in the region, we are seeking to diversify our economy through targeted investment in a new generation of farming and fishing entrepreneurs,” Prime Minister Davis said. “Throughout the region, governments and the private sector must work together to invest in our people and in our capacity to feed ourselves — and further, to invest in stronger intra-regional transportation links to enhance opportunities for trade among our nations.
“Of course, today, modernizing agriculture requires making climate-smart investments, so that new progress is tangible and is not imperiled by extreme weather events.”
He noted there could no longer be any doubt that climate change posed “an unprecedented threat to our countries”.
“Our nations are not and have never been the primary polluters, and yet we are among those suffering the greatest harms caused by carbon emissions,” Prime Minister Davis said. “Many of our countries have become trapped in a destructive cycle, as the devastation of climate events drives up our debt burdens, leaving us with insufficient resources to build the resilience we need to face future challenges.
“Our cost of borrowing also prices in the risk of future hurricanes, and so we are already paying a higher price today for the increased and more intensive weather patterns of tomorrow,” he added. “In order to build resilience in this new era – to strengthen our roads, fortify our sea walls and bridges, our homes, schools, hospitals, and communities – we need fair and flexible climate finance.”
To his colleagues present at that time, Prime Minister Davis said that he believed that it was a “moral and pragmatic imperative” that the nations united in support of the Bridgetown Initiative.
“The international financial institutions established to help countries rebuild after World War II have not yet shown the capacity to cope with the myriad, overlapping global crises we face in these times,” he said. “The Bridgetown Initiative envisions multilateral development banks pivoting to offer substantially more robust support for energy transitions, scaling up the use of guarantees, and increasing concessional financing for climate resilience projects.
“Increasing the capacity of international financial institutions to effectively respond to the challenges of the climate change era is the only way to build a bridge from today to a more secure, peaceful, and sustainable future for all citizens,” he added. “And let me be clear: ensuring that countries like ours have the resources to become more resilient is not just about climate justice – it’s about common sense.
“For every dollar spent on climate-resilient infrastructure, six dollars are saved.”
Prime Minister Davis pointed out that big changes were never achieved easily; but if the nations on the frontlines of the climate crisis came together, he added, they could bring about that change.
“Over the course of this summit, let us consult, and cooperate, as the founding Convention of the ACS demands; but let us not forget, however, that third tenet: that of concerted action,” he added.
Prime Minister Davis stated that the 2022-2028 Plan of Action outlined a series of strategic undertakings on trade development and disaster risk reduction, amongst other collaborative ventures.
“We must ensure that it does not remain merely a plan,” he said. “The time to act is now, and we must act together.”
He added: “As we exchange proposals and debate policies, we ought to be mindful of our commitment to improve the quality of life for the people we serve; the people who ought always to remain at the centre of our deliberations.”
By ERIC ROSE/Bahamas Information Services
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