PRIME Minister Philip Brave Davis addressed Commonwealth leaders yesterday and repeated the message he has been telling the world of the dangers to The Bahamas from global warning.
Addressing the Commonwealth Business Forum Mr Davis said the world was currently experiencing a number of “once-in-a-generation” challenges, including the war in Ukraine sparking rising inflation, supply-chain issues and rising unemployment.
“Amidst all of it, the negative impacts of climate change remain the most fundamental, existential threat,” he said. “But that threat is not evenly spread. Those of us, least responsible for the carbon emissions which drive climate change, are suffering from the greatest negative impact.
“For us it is not simply a threat, but a clear and present danger – a danger which affects our daily reality.”
Prime Minister Davis pointed out that the Atlantic hurricane season started 22 days ago; and the forecast was for more storms, and storms of great intensity.
“... Eighty percent of our land lies less than 1.5 metres above sea level,” he pointed out. “As such, it is vulnerable to floods caused by rises in sea level, along with storm surges due to hurricanes.
“When the storms come, we have no escape. We do what we can to shelter, but we are at the mercy of forces far beyond our control.”
Prime Minister Davis said that despite those dangers, Bahamians did not wish to live as victims.
“Like people the world over, we want dignity and an agency in determining our lives and livelihoods,” he said. “With the right investment in infrastructure, and access to much-needed funds and technical support, we can take great steps to ensure our survival.
“But we cannot do it alone,” Mr Davis said. The Bahamas needed partners to support it in its efforts.
“And we do not think it is too much to ask those who have contributed so much to climate disaster to step forward and step up in partnering with us to mitigate against its impacts,” he said.
He added that, for The Bahamas, financing for the Blue Economy went even further - and that could build both physical and economic sustainability.
However, he pointed to a new Commonwealth report that highlighted areas of major concern.
“Ocean financing is the least well-funded of all the Sustainable Development Goals,” he said. “The Secretariat calculates that up to 2019, ocean conservation received only 0.01% of all development funding.
“I’ll say that again: ocean conservation receives only 0.01 percent of all development funding. The Secretariat also calculates that support for actions relating to the oceans receive less than two percent of funding from the Green Climate Fund, and only 0.7 percent from the Global Environmental Facility.
“Why is this? There is no obvious answer.”
Prime Minister Davis said that, anecdotally, it appeared that everyone imagined that much more was being spent; but it was not. Perhaps, he said, the neglect had been driven by the thought that “someone else is taking care of it.”
“Whatever the reason, it is clear that if the situation is not improved, we will fail in our efforts,” he said.
“And so my charge today is to ask: ‘What can we, in this room, do to raise awareness of this? What can we do to drive urgent action for increased support?’”
Prime Minister Davis said that a second striking detail in the report was a list of traditional and innovative financing instruments and mechanisms that could be effectively deployed in the Blue Economy.
He noted that those included the following:
• Ocean impact investment and technology funds.
· Debt Finance. Given that approximately half of The Bahamas’ fiscal debt – and “no doubt” half of Small Island Developing States’ (SIDS) fiscal debt – was due to the costs linked to the damage caused by hurricanes and other manifestations of climate change. The Bahamas was wary of incurring greater climate-related debt when prevention measures would be far more efficient and effective;
· Bonds and other capital market products;
· Risk alleviation measures, which included the kinds of initiative around ‘Blue Carbon’ that his Government has recently enacted through legislation;
· Financial technology, which employed blockchain technology to conduct better forms of observation, inspection and transparent data access;
· Blended ocean financing concepts, which included contributions from, for example, tourist fees;
· The creation of an Ocean Sustainability Bank, to provide a financing mechanism to support ocean action;
· And supplementary funding from Trust and Sovereign wealth funds.
“ This list more than demonstrates that we know how to do what needs to be done,” Mr Davis said.
“But why has it not been done?” was his question.