NASSAU, BAHAMAS- Prime Minnis Dr. Hubert Minnis today described Hurricane Dorian’s impact as a “generational tragedy” for The Bahamas, noting that this nation must move with ‘urgency’ to address major vulnerabilities and resilience deficiencies in order to protect its citizens as well as vital public and private infrastructure.
Dr. Minnis today addressed the UN General the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York on the impact of Hurricane Dorian on the islands of Abaco and Grand Bahama as well as how The Bahamas is responding to the effects of climate change.
“It is a threat which we did not cause. It is a threat which we cannot survive on our own,” Dr. Minnis said.
“While many countries have coastal cities or zones, the entire Bahamas is a coastal zone of many cays and islands in an extensive archipelago.”
He noted that over the past three decades hurricanes have grown ‘increasingly lethal’ in the region.
“We cannot make meaningful progress toward or achieve sustainable development goals if as forecasters are predicting, that recent cyclonic and other extreme climate events are posted to become the new norm and may worsen,” he continued.
“When one storm can obliterate an island state or a number of states in one hurricane season how will we survive? How can we develop? How can we continue to exist? So I add my urgent plea to the cry and voices of many other leaders to the citizens of the global community urging the nations of the world to treat the global climate emergency as the greatest challenge facing humanity. It is a challenge that if not treated with the greatest urgency will continue to ravage small islands states such as The Bahamas and will also have a devastating impact on more developed states.”
Dr. Minnis added: “The Bahamas supports the UN Secretary General’s comprehensive strategy to address a global emergency which will eventually devastate the entire planet. This includes his plea to international financial institutions to provide concessionary financing to counties severely impacted by the external shocks occasioned by climate change. The UN development organisation is already working with some of our Caribbean neighbors, St Lucia, Dominica and Antigua and Barbuda. We encourage the expansion of this to include The Bahamas.”
Dr. Minnis noted that The Bahamas with its many islands and cays has major vulnerabilities and resilience deficiencies which must be addressed with urgency in order to secure and protect its citizens as well as vital public and private infrastructure.
“For many years the Bahamas and counties with similar characteristics has urged an alternative to per capita gross national income as the sole indicator of a country’s level of development and eligibility for concessionary financing. When we call for consideration of a country unique local circumstances when determining financial worthiness this is also a condition and requirement for our resilience. The Bahamas is a testament to the ability of SIDS to manage debt despite such setbacks,” Dr. Minnis said.
Dr. Minnis urged the traveling community to visit The Bahamas as the tourist revenue will help the reconstruction and rebuilding efforts. “Please come and visit one or more of the 14 major islands of The Bahamas not affected by Hurricane Dorian including Nassau. The revenue from tourists visiting The Bahamas will play a vital role in reconstructing and rebuilding the affected areas,” he added.
Dr. Minnis noted that East Grand Bahama, Abaco and the Abaco Cays will be made special economic recovery zones for an initial period of three years to facilitate social and economic recovery.