St Lucia’s Allen Chastanet talks climate change in Geneva

Allen Chastanet

GENEVA, Switzerland – On Monday 9 September 2019, Prime Minister of Saint Lucia The Hon. Allen Chastanet began an official visit to the United Nations (UN) Office and the World Trade Organization (WTO) in Geneva.

Prime Minister Chastanet was received by the Director General of the UN Office in Geneva, Her Excellency Dr. Tatiana Valvoya; along with the Director General of the UN Conference for Trade and Economic Development (UNCTAD), Dr. Mukhisa Kituyi; and the Deputy Secretary General of UNCTAD, Ms. Isabelle Durant. Following these bilateral engagements with the senior leadership of the UN Office in Geneva, Prime Minister Chastanet delivered a keynote address at the UN Trade Forum where he spoke on trade and climate change.

Having recently made a visit to The Bahamas where he saw firsthand the destruction caused by Hurricane Dorian, Prime Minister Chastanet painted a graphic image of the extent of devastation that he witnessed and the toll that this was having on the lives of the people. Against this background, the Prime Minister noted that Small Island Developing States (SIDS) are in imminent danger of extinction.

To assist SIDS in combating the threat of climate change, the Prime Minister called on the international community to pay attention to the following:- the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) should not be classifying SIDS on the basis of per capita Gross Domestic Product, but should instead use a vulnerability index in determining the countries which qualify for funding – the 100 billion United States dollars pledged under the Paris Climate Agreement to assist developing countries in their mitigation and adaptation measures to combat climate change needs to be delivered on. The Prime Minister indicated that SIDS in particular have very little confidence that these funds will be delivered.

Chastanet suggested that an alternative path could be the creation of a dedicated fund for SIDS to address resilience in the context of climate change and reiterated his call for a SIDS Foundation the negative impacts of Blacklisting on the economies of the OECS and the reputational damage that these arbitrary and unjustified designations can cause to small economies was also highlighted.

Following on from his meetings at the United Nations, the Prime Minister met with the Director General of the WTO Mr. Roberto Azevêdo.  The meeting explored the importance of trade to growth and development. Chastanet highlighted the need to assess the full trade potential of the tourism sector. According to the Prime Minister, understanding the full potential of the sector is a prerequisite to advancing policies that would impact the lives of the people of the OECS.