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Posted: Thursday 23 May, 2024 at 1:22 PM

Prime Minister Honourable Dr. Terrance Drew Address Global Sustainability Island Summit, Prince Edward Island, Canada Wednesday 22nd May 2024

    "Island Innovation and fit for purpose Climate Finance for building Climate Resilience and Sustainability." 


    Greetings and Salutations


    Premier Dennis King and Cabinet Ministers, colleague Caribbean Ministers, Chancellor of the University of Prince Edward Island, Excellencies, islanders all I bring you a warm Kittitian and Nevisian bonjour de la Caraïbe.


    Quite often when one thinks of ‘island,’ one doesn’t immediately think of Canada. Therefore, I thank the leadership of Prince Edward Island, the team at Island Innovation, and islands across Europe, Africa, the Pacific, the Mediterranean, and the Caribbean for highlighting that there is more that unites us than divides and that our similarities represent a solid bedrock for collaboration. We are connected by more than sea and oceans, we are all connected by something deeper; our sheer resilience and our remarkable adaptability to change.


    This is the story of islands, and it is the same spirit that we are called upon to summon again as we break down the barriers that our islandness tends to erect.


    Islands globally are facing a daunting crisis that we will never survive without urgent action. Whether we classify our islands as Small Island Developing States, Large Ocean States, Coastal Nations, Climate Vulnerable Island States or simply as islands, our plight is similar, our trajectories while dissimilar seem to have the same end.


    • If the world does not limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels,
    • if we do not adjust unsustainable linear plastic pollution,
    • if we do not adjust our consumption traits,
    • if we do not demand changes in climate finance and the international financial architecture then our islands are doomed to suffer.


    However, I am heartened today as the Leader of the smallest nation in the Western Hemisphere to be here in 2nd largest country in the world, for the survival of islands. My presence here signifies the commitment of my administration to partner with the Government of Canada and Prince Edward Island and island Government’s globally. This should find resonance in the Strategic Partnership for a Resilient Future that the Leaders of CARICOM Canada adopted last fall.


    For months I’ve made an international commitment to partnership, solidarity, and community for the global fight against the impact of the climate crisis on island nations. There is no island that, on its own, can insulate itself from the burning heat, the economic and noneconomic loss, the disappearance of our cultural heritage, the deterioration of our beaches and the growing mounds of sargassum seaweed swarming our shores.


    Today I share four key messages:


    1. The importance of win-win geostrategic partnerships
    2. Demanding climate finance that supports the most vulnerable
    3. Bold action to disrupt consumption and industrial manufacturing norms
    4. Modeling island innovation- St Kitts and Nevis as a Sustainable Island State


    The Importance of Geo-strategic Climate Partnerships:
    As we head to Antigua and Barbuda for the 4th Global Conference of Small Island Developing States, we are excited by the momentum provided by this conference and by the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea's opinion that greenhouse gasses are a form of marine pollution. Prince Edward Island and the Caribbean are shareholders of the Atlantic Ocean, and we view Canada’s geostrategic partnership as critical. Whatever enters the sea in PEI may well wash up on the shores of my beloved federation. I therefore thank Canada once again for its leadership in addressing plastic pollution and the Global Biodiversity Conservation Framework Fund.


    Our contributions to climate change are negligible and our call for action demands that historical responsibility is the greatest factor in action. We believe in free and open trade to drive green growth for the International Financial Architecture has long closed its door to small island states. That is why we join with my sister the Prime Minister of Barbados in calling for the Bridgetown Initiative to be implemented across the IFIs to level the playing f ield to facilitate a just transition.


    Demanding climate finance that supports the most vulnerable:
    For most of us who are categorized as Small Island Developing States we are trapped in “the island paradox.” We are not rich enough, nor are we poor enough to fund our green transition. We have been left in development purgatory to swim against the tide of injustice for far too long. This is why we as an island community have been active at the UN in seeking an advisory opinion on the climate crisis. The international financial architecture is a neocolonial and in urgent need of restructuring and reform. The survival of the islands is directly linked to an international financial system that allows for fair, just, and more reliable access to urgent climate finance and climate crisis response grant funding. This is why we reiterate here among our partners who find themselves in the councils of the G7, the G20 = the OECD, and in the corridors of power to work with us to demand and drive change in global finance.


    St. Kitts and Nevis is locked out of climate and concessional financing offered by IFIs because we dared to lift our citizens out of poverty. The shackles that have been put on SIDS need to be removed so that we might not only survive but indeed thrive. The Bridgetown Initiative coupled with the adoption and implementation of the Muti-Dimensional Vulnerability Index have the potential for fiscal and monetary space As we enter yet another worrying hurricane season, we are faced with the anxiety of whether we will be able to fund education and health care systems or resilient infrastructure if we receive a serious blow from a hurricane which can decimate our entire economy in the space of a night.


    Always a decision between social protection and health care or investing capital budget in climate adaptation:


    The triple planetary crisis: plastic pollution, climate change, and biodiversity loss exert acute challenges on island states. Our local ingenuity must be matched and buffered by the continued amplified and traceable global action in protecting the planet and people. This summit demonstrates exactly what we need as islands the critical three C’s: connection, collaboration, and commitment.


    We need BOLD action to disrupt consumption and industrial norms:
    Perhaps the most unfortunate challenge we face as islands is that we are stuck in linear cycles of production and consumption which leaves us with very little recourse or opportunity to course correct.


    The Caribbean’s contribution to warming global temperatures remains negligible, yet we are stuck on the fossil fuel consumption cycle which leaves us vulnerable. Even if we transition the entire Caribbean to renewables, the real 4 and meaningful change required to prevent our oceans from rising, and save our corals from bleaching or fish stock from migrating is the global commitment to phase out fossil fuels.


    Therefore, the only change that will protect island nations is a bold disruptive change to unfair global FINANCIAL AND PRODUCTION norms.


    When we convene our declarations must demonstrate that islands are at the edge of disappearing, where survival demands drastic global shifts towards cleaner energy, environmentally sensitive consumption, and circular economies,


    Each island must work collectively to realize the change needed. However, while we commit to global action for our survival, individual, contextualized planning and vision are still required.


    St. Kitts and Nevis as a Sustainable Island State:
    Economic survival calls for creative, innovative, and island-appropriate responses that move beyond short-term planning to long-term holistic policy changes that reach the very heart of an island- its people. Triple threats and intersectionality compound realities requiring new and innovative solutions towards coping and reversing what seems to be an untenable rate of evolution. How do we contend and grapple as small nations with fragile economies, continuously affected by existential threats?


    The Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis under my leadership presented its vision to transform to a Sustainable Island State by 2040. Our Sustainable Island State Agenda is twinned with the SDGs as our accelerator model. Transformation is premised on digital transformation and climate resilience to boost the self-sufficiency and survivability of our people.


    How will this be achieved? 


    1. Reimagining resources towards a transition to renewable and green energy usage.


    2. A diversified investment portfolio across sectors towards fostering economic prosperity, environmental stewardship, and social well-being for the people of St. Kitts and Nevis.


    3. Strong Political Global Champions Network


    4. Sectoral Integration primarily health care and social protection- prioritizing people


    Our vision is premised on more resilient health systems and a care economy coupled with food security, energy security, and a resilient coastal infrastructure for our tourism industry.


    Saving the planet is our ultimate goal because it is for the benefit of every generation of Kittitians and Nevisians. The non-economic losses of climate change are very real to islanders. I grew up walking sandy beaches which have all but disappeared. Many generations of Kittitians and Nevisians will never feel the soft sand beneath their feet if this continues. While we aspire to tap into the abundant resource of our geothermal energy:


    • We act with a singular goal in mind; that the young entrepreneurs operating small businesses can be free of the burden of cost-prohibitive electrical bills.


    • We commit to change because single mothers should have healthy unprocessed, locally grown food to nourish their children.


    • We push for climate health and a care economy because our transitioning population needs to protect the elderly with services for aging with dignity.


    • We aim for an unmatched good governance agenda because our people must live in peace and trust that the economy will remain strong with the security of a stable government.


    Mr. Premier, I look forward to being daring with you as we take the SKN Canada partnership to the next level in carving out island solutions as Atlantic partners.


    My friends and colleague leaders, I dare say that this moment is such a time for the greatest daring we can muster to right the ship of the planet toward ecological recovery, and with it build island sustainability and viability.


    We have recognized that alone we cannot stand against the existential threats which now characterize our world. Only through collaborative efforts can we demonstrate the true grit required to center people in the climate crisis for meaningful, amplified, and lifesaving change.








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