In the wake of the recent hurricane devastation suffered by the Caribbean, Grenada is supporting calls made by Barbados for a new vulnerability index to determine the region’s eligibility for concessional aid.
Immediately following the passage of Hurricane Maria last month, Prime Minister Freundel Stuart had appealed directly to the international community for such support, saying “we are vulnerable countries in this region, and assessing us on the basis of how our economies are doing at any particular time is misleading because all of our gains can be wiped out in a few hours by a serious hurricane as is now the case with Dominica; as was the case some years ago with Grenada, Jamaica and others.
“Therefore, when we talk about vulnerability and the use of a vulnerability index to determine our eligibility for concessional aid, that is what we are talking about and Hurricane Maria makes the point more eloquently than any of us could have made it,” he said at the time.
In echoing pretty much the same sentiment last night, Grenada’s minister of tourism Clarice Modeste-Curwen told the opening of the Caribbean Tourism Organisation’s State of the Tourism Industry Conference at the Grenada Radisson Hotel that the recent spate of superstorms – including Irma, which wreaked havoc on Anguilla, Barbuda, the British Virgin Islands and St Martin -– was proof enough that the threat of global warming is real.
She also contended that even though the Caribbean contributed the least to this environmental phenomenon, it stood to suffer the most.
It is for this reason that Modeste-Curwen suggested that a new index was now needed for determining which countries should benefit from development support.
“As small island developing states we are extremely vulnerable to weather-related shocks. The increase in frequency and severity of hurricanes in our region sends a strong message that we can no longer ignore global warming, nor can we ignore climate change,” the Grenada official said.
“This phenomenon holds an existential threat to our economies and our people. We cannot deal with this threat by ourselves and, in fact, while our contribution to global warming is indeed miniscule, impact on us is severe,” she added.
“In light of this, it is my view that that the formulas used to rank the development of countries should not be applied across the board. As we all know one unfortunate weather event can wipe out a considerable percentage of the GDP [Gross Domestic Product] of any member state. The international community therefore must recognize our unique situation in this regard and fashion developmental support accordingly,” she stressed.
Grenada, which was spared the impact of category 5 hurricanes Irma and Maria last month, knows only too well the pains of rebuilding an economy in the aftermath of a hurricane, having suffered the devastation at the hands of Ivan in 2004.
Modeste-Curwen is therefore pleased with the regional response to date in terms of rendering assistance to hurricane ravaged islands.
“Fortunately there are several Caribbean islands which are still intact and not affected by the disasters and we can therefore support each other to keep the Caribbean strong. In fact that there are 30 Caribbean islands that remain open for business. So we [are] grateful and Grenada is ready to stand in the gap for our Caribbean brothers and sisters, especially as it relates to tourism-related matters,” she said.