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UN chief appeals for greater support for small islands fighting climate change

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UN chief appeals for greater support for small islands fighting climate change

UN Photo/Lucanus Ollivierre UN Secretary-General António Guterres (foreground) and Ralph E. Gonsalves, Prime Minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines survey the sea defense project underway in Sandy Bay as part of the island nation's efforts to protect against sea-level rise.

Mr. Guterres visited a project that is helping the Caribbean nation to combat the effects of coastal erosion and rising seas – among the impacts of global warming.

While commending the initiative, known as the Georgetown Sea Defense, he underlined the need for greater solidarity and financial support.

UN chief appeals for greater support for small islands fighting climate change

UN Photo/Lucanus Ollivierre Efforts to tackle erosion and sea-level rise are underway in St. Vincent and the Grenadines where a new coastal sea defense project is being constructed in the Sandy Bay community.

Climate justice

“We must have stronger support from the international community – what we call climate justice – which means adequate financing at low cost, quickly decided, in order to allow for all these works that we have been seeing to protect the island against the sea, and against the floods and storms,” he said.

Responding to a journalist’s question, Mr. Guterres said that SIDS must have quick and easy access to climate finance through the Loss and Damage Fund.

The long-awaited mechanism to help vulnerable countries offset the damage from droughts, floods and other extreme weather caused by climate change, finally became operational at the UN COP28 climate conference in Dubai last year.

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Mr. Guterres explained that under the fund, small projects like the one he visited would not require the same level of bureaucracy as those costing billions.

They instead call for “quick decisions and quick operationalization of the money available, and much more funding,” he said.

“The people of the Small Island Developing States are on the frontlines of climate change. They did not contribute to global warming, but they are paying the price,” he added.

UN chief appeals for greater support for small islands fighting climate change

UN Photo/Lucanus Ollivierre Prefabricated homes built in Orange Hill resettlement area, in northeast Saint Vincent, to house some people who lived in areas declared unsuitable for habitation after the eruptions of the La Soufriere volcano in 2021.

Rising from the ashes

The Secretary-General also surveyed areas of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines that were affected by the April 2021 eruption of the La Soufrière volcano.

Some 20,000 people, roughly a fifth of the population, had to evacuate immediately. New houses were built in the resettlement area for those whose homes were destroyed.

The UN chief was in the country to attend the summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), held on Friday.

He arrived in the capital, Kingstown, the previous day, where, during a press conference, he paid tribute to the courage, resilience and solidarity of the people in the aftermath of the volcano.

 

UN News

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