Barbados and other countries in the region need to be prepared for the possibility of a climate event that could displace thousands of people.
That is the view of Prime Minister Mia Mottley, who believes that the effects of climate change could cause mass migration and displacement in the Caribbean.
Speaking today during the hand over of the Regional and National Maritime Security Strategies, Mottley said plans had to be put in place to prepare for such a situation.
“2017 was that year that showed us the possibility of what could happen with the impact on Dominica and Antigua and Barbuda in particular with those successive hurricanes that hit us. The coastal and inland flooding due to intensified storm surges have also continued to be a problem for too many of our other countries. Trinidad, Guyana and Suriname may not be hit by hurricanes but they are hit by floods…” Mottley pointed out.
“We have been told by the CCCCC (Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre ) and the UNDP that a one metre rise in sea level can displace approximately 110,000 people in CARICOM member states. For the RSS in particular, it was estimated that two per cent of the population in St Kitts and Nevis and indeed three per cent of the population in Antigua and Barbuda could be displaced as a result of these types of events. This potential displacement leads us to enquire if the current response in our member states can accommodate management of mass migration or displacement of such a large number of persons,” she said.
“Commodore Shurland and myself have been in conversation recently and with some of our international partners with respect to this reality of our capacity to be able to handle mass migration as a result of climatic events. It is our judgment that there is much work to be done if we are able to do this seamlessly and time is not on our side.”
Mottley said it was imperative humanitarian and security missions were identified as key initiatives going forward.
Chief of Staff of the Barbados Defence Force Errington Shurland said today’s ceremony would see the handing over of an overarching regional strategy and national maritime strategies for the seven-member states of the RSS.
He admitted that progress had been hampered by COVID-19.
Shurland said the initiative had been launched in March, 2019 and was expected to be completed by March, 2021.
However, he said the strategies were necessary as the shared maritime space between countries in the region brought shared challenges such as transnational organized crime.
“These shared challenges dictate that cooperation and information sharing between the RSS member states are critical for maximizing maritime and port security by essentially multiplying the capabilities and resources of any one state.
“Sustainable development and peace and security are two sides of the same coin. Development and security go hand in hand. Fundamentally there can be no sustainable development without security, stability and peace,” Shurland said. (RB)