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CARICOM Chair Vows to Make Climate Change Adaptation a Priority Focus

CARICOM9 September 2014: The new Chairman of the 15-member Caribbean Community (CARICOM) pledged to use his six-month term to address the effects of climate change on CARICOM member countries. Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves made the remarks to a news conference held during a 6 January 2014 high-level CARICOM meeting convened to address the devastation caused to Dominica, Saint Lucia and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines by a recent weather system.

Gonsalves promised to address climate change impacts in a "serious and structured way" during his term as CARICOM Chairman.  He stressed that while CARICOM member countries do not contribute to climate change, they increasingly have to deal with its impacts on weather systems in the Caribbean, beyond the usual risks of hurricane season. "We are on the front line," he said.

Gonsalves told reporters he was working with the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) for an international donors conference in February or March to raise funds to help the three island countries in their recovery from the holiday rains that resulted in the death of nine people and caused hundreds of millions of dollars in damage. While noting the existence of the Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility (CCRIF) created with help from the World Bank, he characterized the money countries received to deal with the impacts of damaging weather as "minimal."

Gonsalves promised to use CARICOM diplomacy to get more funds for the region to deal with climate change adaptation and response, and to "get more aggressive" with the CARICOM Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) to step up its own work in this area.  “There are lots of monies which countries talk about for adaptation and mitigation to climate change. But I haven't seen the money yet," he said. He told reporters CARICOM would discuss possible grants or soft loans for work in this area with the World Bank, the Caribbean Development Bank, the European Union, Venezuela and Taiwan. [CARICOM Press Release]