Prime Minister urges developed countries to assist SIDS with infrastructure
CASTRIES – Prime Minister Allen Chastanet says developed countries should assist Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in their quest to combat the effects of climate change.
According to Chastanet, time is running out for small states such as St Lucia as they struggle to develop infrastructure capable of withstanding changes in weather conditions.
His words of caution came at the recent signing ceremony for the exchange of notes for Japanese grant aid of EC$35 million to the government of St Lucia for the reconstruction of two major bridges, south of here.
Urging his countrymen not to take for granted monies given to the country for capital works, the Chastanet underscored the need to make the country’s infrastructure more resilient to climate change.
“In terms of upgrading the country’s already expensive infrastructure, time is against small states like St Lucia in their fight to develop the road network and bridges capable of withstanding weather changes.
“It is very easy for us to continue to come to these signings of agreements and almost take it for granted what we are receiving (but) this project has the opportunity and potential to protect the lives and the assets of many people,” Chastanet said.
The grant will also be used to widen the Cul-de-Sac River which is known to cause widespread flooding after torrential rain.
“We are actually creating a second tier river, so the idea is to create banks along the sides of the river.”
Chastanet said the policy and strategy of government as it relates to climate change and its impact on the island’s infrastructure has been and will continue to be a top priority.
Over the years, St Lucia, has had its fair share of natural disasters. The Cul-de-Sac basin has demonstrated resistance to all types of projects aimed at reducing flooding in the area during heavy continuous rains, threatening property and human lives in the process.
This time around, it is hoped that the project will be the one to make a difference in the lives of the people who live in the area during heavy and continuous rain.
Meanwhile, the Prime Minister lauded the countries that have come to the assistance of SIDS.
“I am very grateful that both those organisations have chosen to have a setting for the small island developing states of the world. That was followed by the COP (Conference of Parties) meeting that took place in Marrakech (last November).
“I want to also recognise the work that was done by our predecessors in supporting the climate change agreement at COP in Paris (in 2015) in which we formalised the recognition that climate change is real and a roadmap for how the world intends to be able to deal with the problem. In the roadmap, the world gave itself a challenge to raise 100 billion dollars to go towards mitigation and funding adaptation.”
He said this had been stymied by recent decisions by the United States in relation to the Paris Agreement and that some of the SIDS are proposing alternatives to get assistance for critical infrastructural projects that help with adaptation.
“One is exactly what is taking place here today where the Government of Japan, through JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency), is making a bilateral contribution to Saint Lucia in a project that is a critical infrastructural project. What we would like to see is Japan being given a credit for that contribution,” Chastanet said.
He continued: “I am going to keep pounding on the table and letting my voice be heard explaining that the SIDS cannot wait. There is no greater example of that than what took place in Haiti.
“After the earthquake in Haiti, where over 250 000 people were displaced, there needed to be greater expediency in solving that problem. Did we not know that Haiti was in a hurricane belt? Did we not know that there was clearly a trend of increasing storms? That all we needed was a trough? What took place last year, the world and all of us must bear responsibility for. The Haitian people were left to confront one of the strongest and most devastating hurricanes we have seen in a long time with cardboard boxes.” (CMC)