PM urges ACP countries to intensify response to climate emergency

BRUSSELS, Belgium – Vulnerable areas in the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States must collectively and urgently intensify their response to the climate emergency, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis told ACP ambassadors yesterday.

The prime minister made the plea yesterday while addressing the 925th Meeting of the Committee of Ambassadors of the ACP at ACP House.

Pointing to the Category 5 Hurricane Dorian that destroyed swathes of Abaco and Grand Bahama, and the Category 3 Tropical Cyclone Idai – one of the worst storms to hit the African nations of Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi – Minnis said the impact of the global climate emergency is especially felt in the most vulnerable areas of the ACP, including the Caribbean region.

“The most recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Special Report recognizes that the choices we make now will dictate how we are affected by and respond to more storms like Hurricane Dorian and Idai,” Minnis said.

Researchers have concluded that the largest and most damaging hurricanes are now three times more frequent than they were 100 years ago, and have determined that there is a correlation between the intense storms and increased global warming, the prime minister said.

“We are painfully aware of the warnings of the impact of climate change on all of our states, including rising sea levels and the threats to agriculture and fisheries,” Minnis said.

Initial assessment by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and ECLAC on the effects and impact of Hurricane Dorian estimated total damages at $2.4 billion, with an additional cost estimated to be $200 million and losses of over $700 million.

The Bahamian economy was expected to grow by 2.2 percent in 2019. Following the catastrophic storm, the projected GDP growth rate is now 1.1 percent, Minnis said.

Minnis noted the ACP’s plans to highlight the concerns of small island developing states (SIDS) at its upcoming Ninth Summit of ACP Heads of State and Government in December in Nairobi, Kenya.

The ACP is pushing to ensure that its development partners are sensitized to the particular vulnerabilities faced by SIDS, including recent developments in international trade and finance and the frequency of destructive weather events.

Minnis thanked ACP Secretary General Dr. Patrick I. Gomes and member states of the ACP for the expressions of solidarity and support in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian.

The prime minister also reiterated the commitment of The Bahamas to the ideals and objectives of the ACP since its inception in 1975.

“This commitment has recently manifested itself in the establishment of our opening of an embassy here in Belgium, as we seek to further engage and strengthen cooperation among our fellow member states and our European Union partners,” he said.

The new Bahamas Ambassador to Belgium, Maria O’Brien, serves on the ACP Caribbean Bureau of Ambassadors.

In his thank you remarks, Dean of the Committee of Ambassadors Daniel Evina Abe’e of Cameroon commended Minnis on the Bahamian government’s response to Hurricane Dorian.

Minnis said that through the implementation of a number of measures to bring relief and to stimulate rebuilding and restoration, including the creation of a new Ministry for Disaster Preparedness, Management and Reconstruction, The Bahamas is making significant strides in providing stability and some sense of normalcy to the lives of those affected.

“I appeal to our international partners and friends to continue to accompany us as we continue the formidable task of recovery and reconstruction and to rebuild with resilience,” Minnis said.

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