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UN chief Antonio Guterres appeals for greater support for small islands fighting climate change

Just Earth News | @justearthnews | 03 Mar 2024, 02:47 am Print

UN chief Antonio Guterres appeals for greater support for small islands fighting climate change Climate Change

Photo Courtesy: UN Photo/Lucanus Ollivierre

More funding is needed to support Small Island Developing States (SIDS) on the frontlines of climate change, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said on Saturday in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.

Guterres visited a project that is helping the Caribbean nation to combat the effects of coastal erosion and rising seas - among the impacts of global warming.

While commending the initiative, known as the Georgetown Sea Defense, he underlined the need for greater solidarity and financial support.

Climate justice

“We must have stronger support from the international community - what we call climate justice - which means adequate financing at low cost, quickly decided, in order to allow for all these works that we have been seeing to protect the island against the sea, and against the floods and storms,” he said.

Responding to a journalist’s question, Guterres said that SIDS must have quick and easy access to climate finance through the Loss and Damage Fund.

The long-awaited mechanism to help vulnerable countries offset the damage from droughts, floods and other extreme weather caused by climate change, finally became operational at the UN COP28 climate conference in Dubai last year.

Guterres explained that under the fund, small projects like the one he visited would not require the same level of bureaucracy as those costing billions.

They instead call for “quick decisions and quick operationalization of the money available, and much more funding," he said.

"The people of the Small Island Developing States are on the frontlines of climate change. They did not contribute to global warming, but they are paying the price,” he added.

Rising from the ashes

The Secretary-General also surveyed areas of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines that were affected by the April 2021 eruption of the La Soufrière volcano.

Some 20,000 people, roughly a fifth of the population, had to evacuate immediately. New houses were built in the resettlement area for those whose homes were destroyed.

The UN chief was in the country to attend the summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), held on Friday.

He arrived in the capital, Kingstown, the previous day, where, during a press conference, he paid tribute to the courage, resilience and solidarity of the people in the aftermath of the volcano.