The Secretary-General will reassure Caribbean leaders that the Commonwealth will keep fighting for bold climate action on the global stage.

She will attend the inter-sessional conference of heads of government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) in Barbados this week as a special guest. Of 15 CARICOM members, 12 are in the Commonwealth.

Secretary-General Patricia Scotland will highlight that despite ambitious pledges, countries are receiving limited funds to improve response to climate change.

She will also focus on how the climate crisis is destabilising economic growth leading to food insecurity, stressed resources and impaired livelihoods across the Commonwealth.

As of February 2019, less than a quarter of the $26 billion deposited for climate action has been disbursed, according to Climate Funds Update.

Patricia Scotland will brief Caribbean leaders on the current Commonwealth initiatives helping the region tackle the effects of climate change and external shocks such as disasters and financial crises. Examples are:

  • The Commonwealth has helped five Caribbean countries access more than $27 million in funds to deal with climate change;
  • All Caribbean member countries use the Commonwealth debt management software to manage their public and publicly guaranteed debt;
  • The Commonwealth supported The Bahamas and Barbados to seek $550,000 each from UN-India fund. The Bahamian project will promote long-term public debt sustainability, which is crucial to achieving development goals. The Barbadian project will help more local suppliers engage with the supply of goods and services
  • A forthcoming Commonwealth portal gives small states 24-hour access to information on key financing options such as loans to better manage the impacts of disasters; and
  • A proposed Universal Vulnerability Index to build a global consensus on defining and assessing countries’ net vulnerability to economic and environmental shocks.

She said: “The Caribbean is increasingly bearing the brunt of frequent, long-lasting and intense weather patterns. This means that business-as-usual is no longer an option if the region’s beautiful islands and vibrant communities are to flourish and prosper for the benefit and enjoyment of future generations.”

Last October, the Secretary-General visited The Bahamas after a category five storm Hurricane Dorian devastated many of the nation’s islands. The storm claimed 73 lives and caused $3.4 billion in damage.

She added: “In Abaco, I met life-loving people who once had so much to look forward to yet had little left but debris.

“We owe it to these people forced to flee their homes and those who lost their entire life savings in a matter of seconds. We cannot afford to wait any longer to tackle the climate crisis.

“We will use every platform at every occasion to galvanise support for our small island developing states. We must step up urgent global action around the world to keep global warming under 1.5°C. The future of the region relies on this collective action.”

During her visit, Patricia Scotland will listen to Caribbean leaders and strategise with them as to how the Commonwealth can mobilise more tailored and practical assistance to the region.

She said: “The Commonwealth has been engaged with CARICOM from the beginning. Our partnership spans over 46 years working together on socio-economic issues and delivering initiatives to advance development in member countries.”

Secretary-General Scotland will also meet with Caribbean leaders, high commissioners and envoys of the international community.