PM Harris raises developmental concerns at UN Assembly

For small island developing countries like St. Kitts and Nevis, he indicated that the level of vulnerability to natural hazards is very high, and he called for a better way to help such states finance mitigation programs.

Prime Minister Harris said, “Access to global funding mechanisms such as the Green Climate Fund (GCF) is of critical importance to us. For too long we have been hamstrung by complex application procedures which have prevented us from accessing vital funds to enable us to achieve sustainable development.”

He continued, “We welcome the recent decision by the Green Climate Fund board to aim for a floor of 50 per cent of the adaptation allocation for particularly vulnerable countries, including Small Island Developing States (SIDS). We welcome the importance placed on filling capacity gaps in assessing and managing climate finance. Access to finance if it is to be meaningful must be simplified and timely.”

Speaking under the UN’s meeting theme, ‘The United Nations at 70 – A New Commitment to Action’, Prime Minister Harris sought added attention to the ongoing impact of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) in developing countries and specifically mentioned the challenges of NCDs in the Caribbean.

The prime minister said, “We remain hopeful that the inclusion of NCDs into the sustainable development goals and the implementation of the targets and indicators at the national level will serve to reverse the high incidence of NCDs at the national, regional and global levels. The famous adage ‘A nation’s health is a nation’s wealth’ resonates with us. We would therefore urge the United Nations through its specialized agencies and regional offices to play a leading role in this regard.”

Dr. Harris also used the occasion to highlight the relationship of the federation with Taiwan, Venezuela and Cuba. He said, “My Government is pleased to draw the attention of the international community to the invaluable contribution made by the Government of the Republic of China (Taiwan) in the areas of international cooperation, health, technology and peace and security. We live in an age where global partnership is a prerequisite for solving complex problems at the international level.”

In reference to Venezuela, Harris told the UN Assembly that St. Kitts and Nevis “found pragmatic beneficial value in our PetroCaribe agreement with Venezuela in support of poverty alleviation and social cohesion.” He opined that Venezuela under President Chavez, and now President Maduro, must be commended for “showing the world that there can be a better way and a more helpful way of driving the developmental agenda”.

And on Cuba, Harris said the re-establishment of diplomatic relations between the US and Cuba is pleasing, as he indicated that it was something long advocated by the Caribbean Community.

Harris said, “This is the opportune time for us to usher in a new era of regional partnership and cooperation… My own country has benefitted substantially from capacity building in the areas of education and health due to our partnership with Cuba.”

According to the prime minister, changes are needed at the United Nations in order to effectively deliver on its work program. He stated, “We remain eager to work within the United Nations system, but the United Nations must be re-energized, retooled and refocused to meet the challenges of the 21st century. In fact, we want to see a United Nations strengthened and reflective of the reality of our world, the needs of its membership and the wishes of our diverse and swelling populations.”

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