NASSAU, BAHAMAS- Foreign Affairs Minister Darren Henfield yesterday questioned the benefit of the United Nation’s Green Cimate Fund and its capacity to aid Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in fighting climate change.
The Green Climate Fund is a financial mechanism set up by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to support developing countries in responding to the challenge of climate change.
Henfield stressed the importance of The Bahamas not being forgotten in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian during his contribution to the debate on the disaster preparedness amendment bill.
The minister noted, during the recent United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York, he attended a climate action forum where many European countries pledged to double their response to the Green Climate Fund.
“But my question was, we’re still in the hurricane season and we’re grateful, and I don’t want to seem ungracious in any way, but how do you operationalize the fund so that we could get the monies on the ground now where we need them to help build resilience,” Henfield said.
“We don’t mind if you send your own companies to The Bahamas or if you create a czar to manage the monies who will come to the impacted area, wherever we are and approve the spending of the money to build resilient, to put underground cables so that we can survive after these storms hit us.”
Hurricane Dorian was the strongest storm to hit the Northwest Bahamas.
The Category 5 storm devastated the islands of Grand Bahama and Abaco, packing maximum sustained winds of 185 mph, gusts over 220 mph and storm surges 18 to 23 feet above normal tide levels.
Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis has warned that super storms like Dorian are now “the new norm” due to climate change and thus The Bahamas must “prepare to fight an enemy that we did not cause to attack us”.
Henfield echoed these sentiments yesterday, underscoring the need for sustainable building, especially in storm-ravaged areas.
“Small island developing states foreign ministers are quite okay with the issues associated with climate change,” he continued. “Everywhere we go, every international community that we speak to, and multilateral forums, and bilateral forums, we tell them we are least offensive in black carbon emissions, but yet we suffer the most.
“In real property law you learn that the burden and benefits run with the land.
“Well, we are bearing the burden but this land is receiving very little of the benefits.
“And so it is unfair to graduate us into middle income countries, which prohibits us from receiving the type of concessional lending and loans that we need to rebuild in the aftermath of devastating events like this.”
Henfield added the government must continue to build international support or risk being forgotten.
“During the recent UNGA in New York, many countries indicated and reiterated their intent to provide for The Bahamas in the aftermath of this storm,” he continued.
“The only concern I have is that you’re only as alive as the next event and then the agencies move on and forget you.”
The foreign affairs minister noted that following the storm, many of his counterparts in other countries reached out to offer their sympathies and support and many high-level visitors also came to The Bahamas.
“It’s important that these visitors be received in The Bahamas at the highest level possible,” Henfield continued, “as it will help not only to show solidarity, but to also serve as a catalyst to galvanize concrete international support for the overall recovery endeavors and efforts, to maintain climate change and related issues at the forefront of our concerns.”