Caribbean needs partnerships in battling climate change: UN chief

Deep concern over political uncertainty in Haiti
Associated Press / Bebeto Matthews

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has called for partnerships for Small Island Developing States (SIDS), such as those in the Caribbean, lamenting that the global challenges facing these islands are the international community’s collective responsibility.

“Combatting climate change, promoting sustainable development and addressing the vulnerabilities of SIDS will demand partnership, capacity and leadership,” said the top UN official at the Security Council on Thursday, adding that the “SAMOA Pathway” is here “to guide us.”

Ban said last year’s Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States in Samoa increased global attention on their contributions to sustainable development — but also on their unique vulnerabilities.

Council members were meeting for an unprecedented debate about the situation of SIDS.

From traditional armed conflict to transnational crime and piracy, illicit exploitation of natural resources, climate change and climate-related natural disasters and uneven development, small island developing States face a range of peace and security challenges, according to the concept note provided by New Zealand, which holds the rotating Presidency of the Security Council for the month of July.

Ban said Caribbean SIDS are vulnerable to drug-trafficking and gang-related violence.

He also said unreported and unregulated fishing are undermining local economies.

Through its Maritime Crime Program, the UN chief said the UN Office on Drugs and Crime is actively engaged to help these countries in these areas.

“Taken together with the broader vulnerabilities faced by many of these states communities, these challenges can disproportionately affect national stability, fuel conflict across regions and ultimately have an impact on the maintenance of international peace and security,” the Security Council concept note said.

Ban said the first priority must be to support these States in achieving the Millennium Development Goals.

“Second, we need a post-2015 development agenda and sustainable development goals that address the needs of SIDS,” he said.

At the recent Financing for Development Conference in Addis Ababa, which took place from July 13-16, Ban said it was encouraging that the concerns of that group of countries were reflected, including in critical areas such as debt, trade, technology and Official Development Assistance.

“Third, we need a meaningful and universal global climate agreement in Paris in December,” stressed the UN chief, as SIDS are on the front lines of climate change.

“Cyclone Pam in Vanuatu is only the latest in a long string of devastation that SIDS have endured and will continue to endure as long as climate change is not adequately addressed,” warned Ban, underscoring that Caribbean countries sometimes experience as many as five hurricanes in a season.

He said rising sea levels, dying coral reefs and the increasing frequency and severity of natural disasters exacerbate the conditions leading to community displacement and migration, threatening to increase tensions over resources and affect domestic and regional stability.

“Leading by example,” Ban said many of these countries have been accelerating their own transition to renewable energy to secure a sustainable energy future.

But, to support SIDS in their actions to combat climate change and adapt to its impacts, “a politically credible trajectory for mobilizing the pledged $100 billion dollars per year by 2020” is needed, Ban said.

He said the Green Climate Fund will need to be “up and running” before the Climate Conference in Paris in December, but added that a “meaningful, universal climate agreement” must be adopted.