Prime Minister Gaston Browne Calls for Global Accountability and Immediate Action at the Fourth Conference of Small Island Developing States

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Prime Minister Gaston Browne delivering opening remarks at SIDS 4 in Antigua & Barbuda

Prime Minister Gaston Browne Calls for Global Accountability and Immediate Action at the Fourth Conference of Small Island Developing States

ANR- Delivering a powerful opening statement at the Fourth International Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS), Prime Minister Gaston Browne of Antigua and Barbuda emphasized the urgent need for global accountability and immediate action to combat the multifaceted crises faced by SIDS.

Speaking under the theme “Charting the Course to Resilient Prosperity: Action in Partnership,” Browne highlighted the disproportionate impact of climate change on small island nations and called for equitable solutions and substantial support from the international community.

Addressing esteemed delegates, including the Secretary General, fellow heads of state, ministers, and distinguished guests, Browne underscored the inherent vulnerabilities of SIDS, such as limited financial resources and human capital constraints, which place them at a significant disadvantage on the global stage. He criticized large-scale polluters for their role in the climate crisis and called for them to fulfill their obligations to provide compensation and aid for building resilience in affected regions.

“Our inherent vulnerabilities, characterized by small size, limited financial resources, and constrained human capital, place us at a marked disadvantage on the global stage, with the scales of equity and justice unevenly balanced against us,” Browne stated. He emphasized the need for urgent multilateral support to secure the future of SIDS, particularly in light of the global financial meltdown of 2008 and the COVID-19 pandemic, which have compounded the challenges posed by the relentless climate crisis.

Browne called on the global North to honor its commitments, including the pivotal pledge of $100 billion in climate financing for adaptation and mitigation, and the capitalization and operationalization of the loss and damage fund. He stressed that these investments are essential for ensuring justice and an equitable future for humanity.

Highlighting the record-breaking temperatures experienced globally, Browne warned of severe impacts on ecosystems and the urgent need to address the climate crisis. “Continuing with business as usual is not just negligence; it is an active choice that invites disaster,” he cautioned.

Browne also held oil-producing companies accountable for their role in the environmental challenges, calling for the end of fossil fuel subsidies and the imposition of a global carbon tax to provide climate financing. He stressed the need for a transition to renewable energy resources to protect lives and livelihoods.

“We stand at a juncture where our actions, or our failure to act, will dictate the fate of SIDS, as well as the legacy we leave for future generations. It is imperative that we act now; not tomorrow, but today; with conviction and with unyielding resolve,” Browne urged.

The Prime Minister highlighted the significant milestone achieved by the Commission of Small Island States on Climate Change and International Law (COSIS), which he co-founded, in obtaining a historic and unanimous Advisory Opinion from the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS).

This ruling affirmed the legal duty of all nations to immediately mitigate greenhouse gas emissions to keep temperature rise within 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

Browne called on major polluters to recognize and respect this historic ruling and to fulfill their global legal obligations, particularly towards SIDS. He stressed the importance of international cooperation in building capacity for disaster risk reduction, climate adaptation, digitalization, air and maritime transportation, and overall sustainable development.

As part of the conference outcomes, Browne announced the establishment of a Centre of Excellence to serve as a Global Data Hub for Innovative Technologies and Investment for SIDS. This center will play a pivotal role in guiding sustainable development efforts through data-driven decision-making.

Browne also highlighted the upcoming launch of the Debt Service Support Initiative (DSSI) on Tuesday, which will call for the reform of the international financing architecture to deliver innovative, bespoke financing solutions, including debt for climate swaps, insurance instruments, green and blue bonds, and public-private partnerships.

Concluding his speech, Browne called for a renewed spirit of determination and action, emphasizing that the outcomes of the SIDS 4 Conference must not only be a blueprint for action but also mark a new era of persistent progress. “Let it be proclaimed that here, on the shores of Antigua and Barbuda, we did more than dream of a resilient future – we acted decisively, with unyielding passion and unwavering resolve, in devising strategies to achieve resilient prosperity for our peoples,” Browne declared.

The Fourth International Conference on SIDS continues to bring together global leaders, policymakers, and stakeholders to address the pressing challenges and chart a course toward a resilient and prosperous future for small island nations.

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