António Guterres, United Nations secretary general, said that even though small-island-states contribute little to climate change, they are the ones feeling it’s adverse effects.
Guterres made that declaration moments after his arrival at the V.C. Bird International Airport on Saturday. He stressed that climate change is responsible for the devastation caused by the storms we have experienced in recent months.
“It is clear that there is a direct link between climate change and the intensification of these storms. People might argue that there have been storms ever since. It is true, but what we are witnessing is a multiplication and intensification,” said Guterres.
“It is time to recognise that those that are creating climate change are not those that are feeling the impact. Antigua, Barbuda and Dominica have not contributed in a meaningful way to climate change but are feeling the first line of suffering of the impact.”
The United Nations Secretary General used the opportunity to appeal to the international financial institutions to not only assist the affected countries with immediate relief items, but to also provide financial support for the reconstruction phase.
“Many of the small islands that are impacted so dramatically are middle income countries that have no access to concessional funds, but they need support,” Guterres said. “Obviously, they don’t have the capacity to rebuild their economies alone. So, the international community must be able to accept that new innovative mechanisms of financing are necessary to allow for the effective reconstruction of these countries.”
Guterres, who toured hurricane-ravished islands of Barbuda and Dominica over the weekend, said that his role is to stand in “total solidarity” with the countries.
He added that the international community should also translate that solidarity into effective measures that will be able to address the climate change threats that we face in a decisive way.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Gaston Browne, who was among government officials who welcomed Gutteres to the island, said that the Secretary General’s visit will help to communicate the dire needs of the affected islands to the international financial institutions.