The plight of small islands like Antigua and Barbuda which exist on the frontier of climate change has again come under the spotlight at the United Nations General Assembly.
Prime Minister Gaston Browne yesterday took part in an Open Exchange with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz. Browne is the current chair of the Alliance of Small Island States.
The meeting was one of several engagements for the prime minister who is attending the 77th session of the General Assembly which is currently meeting entirely in person for the first time since the covid pandemic.
Browne was accompanied at the talks with the German Chancellor by Education Minister Daryll Matthew. Also in attendance were St. Vincent’s prime minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves, plus the President of Suriname and the Prime Minister of Tuvalu.
PM Browne used the opportunity to plead the case of small island states which remain under the constant threat of extreme weather conditions.
A major priority for Antigua and Barbuda at this year’s global climate summit COP27 – being held in Egypt in November – is the establishment of a funding facility to finance Loss and Damage.
That matter was also raised during another meeting yesterday – attended by Environment Minister Sir Molwyn Joseph.
PM Browne said – COP27 must show the political will to address the climate crisis like the crisis that it is, and the responses that we have seen for the pandemic, the war in Ukraine and the energy security crises.
He also took Germany to task for reactivating coal plants as the goal to combat global warming remains under threat due in part by large countries’ hesitancy to shift away from their dependence on fossil fuels.
Prime Minister Browne also tabled several solutions for Germany’s consideration in supporting the needs of Small Island States – one of which is a Vulnerability Index.
If agreed by the UN Member States, the index will take into account the unique vulnerabilities of small islands as they seek to build resilience from climate change and other global shocks.
Crucially for Antigua and Barbuda, it would allow middle and high-income small island states to access financing and other support irrespective of their income status.