NEW YORK, USA – Poor countries can no longer be taken for a ride with promises of developmental aid, St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves told the United Nations on Saturday.
And while Gonsalves was puzzled by the response of developed nations to climate change, he hoped that recent hurricanes in the United States and the United Kingdom would wake up developed nations to the reality.
“… I remain baffled by the intransigence of major emitters and developed nations that refuse to shoulder the burden for arresting climate changes that are linked to the excesses of their own wasteful policies,” Gonsalves told the United Nations General Debate.
“As Hurricanes Irene and Katia crept northward to typically untouched cities in the United States and the United Kingdom, we in the Caribbean felt saddened at the extensive damage and tragic lost of life, which is an annual occurrence in our region,” Gonsalves said.
“We can only hope that our now common experiences can engender a level of solidarity and constructive engagement that will lead to binding and meaningful emissions reductions and fulfilment of commitment on adaptation financing for vulnerable small island development states,” he continued.
“Time is running out on the very existence of many countries in the face of rising oceans and increasingly intense storms,” Gonsalves noted as he said he was heartened that the General Debate was emphasising sustainable development and global prosperity.
He, however, told the international forum that citizens and governments have lost faith in the U.N.’s endless and self-important summits that produce little tangible results.
The U.N. archives, Gonsalves said, are filled with “grandiloquent declarations and
outcome documents” from summits whose commitments were forgotten even before the delegates boarded the planes to return home.
He further noted that U.N.’s Rio + 20 Conference on Sustainable Development will be held in Brazil next June, 10 years after the Monterrey Consensus of the International Conference on Financing for held in Mexico.
At the Mexico meeting, developed countries committed to the target of devoting 0.7 per cent of their gross national income (GNI) as official development assistance to poor countries.
Gonsalves, however, noted that developed nations are today contributing only about 0.32 per cent of their GNI.
“Look! We just got to get this better. We’ve got to do it right. It’s just not good for us to be
taken for a ride all these years with all these promises. It has to come to an end sometime. And the world is changing. Let’s get it right. It is our responsibility. Please!” Gonsalves said, in what appeared to be an extemporaneous addition to his prepared comments.
“Our dream, in this regard, Mr. President, remains constantly unfulfilled,” he further said and quoted American writer Langston Hughes, who, in one of his poems, asked, “What happens to a dream deferred?”
“Recent events in the streets of major cities across this world have probably answered Langston Hughes’ queries. The talk is cheap, we got to get some action,” he remarked.
Gonsalves noted the U.N. conference on the world economic and financial crisis and its impact on development and said the U.N. General Assembly must meaningfully follow up on the unfulfilled recommendation of that conference.
“Our Caribbean region has a vested interest in this most urgent of matters,” he said, even as he noted that SVG was this year the subject of a UN resolution that called on the international community to provide assistance in the wake of Hurricane Tomas, which ravaged the nation’s agriculture and infrastructure last November.
Gonsalves said that SVG was grateful to countries that contributed to the recovery even as he reminded the international community of the continuing recovery efforts and vulnerability of Caribbean countries during the Atlantic hurricane season.