Prime Minister calls for more financial support against climate change at the United Nations Assembly

Prime Minister Andrew Holness has said that if small island developing states (SIDS) like Jamaica work to improve their fiscal management and debt sustainability, “a single weather event” could “wipe out 100%” of their savings in just a few hours.

Holness argues that a comprehensive and targeted approach to accessing development finance is needed, so that small island developing nations like Jamaica can recover effectively from climate shocks.

In a lengthy address to the 77th UN General Assembly in New York on Thursday, Holness said there was an urgent need to develop strategies to tackle the “threats” of climate change to SIDS like Jamaica, as this will determine their survival or not.

“Climate change is an immediate existential threat to SIDS like Jamaica, the Caribbean and the Pacific,” he told the United Nations Assembly.

“Concerted action to slow and halt the rise in global temperature is literally a matter of survival. While we continue to build our own resilience and play our part in mitigating climate change, we cannot, by our only action, change the trajectory,” he added. said the prime minister.

He told the gathering that Jamaica is looking forward to the convening of the Conference of the Parties (COP27) in Egypt later this year.

“We call on all countries to meet their commitments and contributions to climate goals. And we call on the developed world to increase its commitments and ambitions for climate finance, particularly for adaptation and for loss and damage,” urged Holness.

Meanwhile, he reiterated that SIDS and some middle-income countries face a situation where they are forced into a cycle of borrowing in order to survive economic shocks and restore lost and damaged infrastructure.

“… They (these countries) are forced to borrow, to be faced again, in a few years, with a new series of natural disasters which could destroy important infrastructures and force us to increase our debt”, a- he declared. .

He said he was watching the then-tropical wave — now Tropical Storm Ian — threatening the Caribbean, as an example of what those states are dealing with.

“Jamaica believes that a comprehensive and targeted approach to accessing development finance is needed,” Holness said.

“We fully support the work of the High Level Panel developing the Multidimensional Vulnerability Index.

“We look forward to an era of truly equitable access to concessional finance and other financial support, which will allow us to invest in resilient infrastructure and create fiscal buffers so that we can withstand and recover quickly from the crisis. next economic, health or climate shock with little worry,” he said.

Even as he called for reforms to the global financial architecture to accommodate vulnerability, the Prime Minister shared that Jamaica exercises strong fiscal discipline.

“It has been a long and difficult struggle, but we have reduced our debt-to-GDP ratio from stratospheric levels a decade ago, and we continue to pursue policies to ensure we can reduce our debt,” Holness told UN members. Assembly.

In addition, he said the country was building up fiscal reserves to better respond to shocks.

Jamaica, Holness said, is also working with development partners in areas such as issuing a catastrophe bond “to guard against climate disasters, but most importantly, we are integrating climate resilience into all of our investments in infrastructure”.

In the meantime, Holness said, as an island, Jamaica is “very aware” of the importance of protecting and sustainably using its ocean and marine resources.

He said Jamaica also recognizes that urgent action is needed to ensure the health and sustainability of the oceans.

“Jamaica joins the global community in celebrating the 40th anniversary of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea which was opened for adoption in Montego Bay, Jamaica on December 10, 1982.

“The convention is a testament to the power of multilateralism…The convention has brought immense benefits since it came into force,” Holness said.

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