Ambassador Raymond Wolfe
Permanent Representative of
Jamaica to the United Nations
at the Ministerial Meeting on
“Reducing Disaster Risks in a
29th September 2008
It is indeed timely and
fortuitous that you should convene this meeting on “Reducing Disaster Risks in
a Changing Climate”. A few months ago, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on
Climate Change (IPCC) declared unequivocally that climate change, if left
unchecked, could be devastating if not catastrophic over the coming decades.
We are already experiencing the manifestation of this statement.
Only a few weeks ago, Jamaica
was struck by Tropical Storm Gustav which resulted in major damage to our
country’s infrastructure and loss of lives. Haiti, also from the Caribbean
region, was also severely battered by at least four (4) hurricanes resulting
in colossal damage to the fledgling economy and loss of hundreds of lives.
Cuba also suffered severely from the onslaught of two (2) hurricanes.
In the last three years alone,
Jamaica and other Caribbean countries have been hit by more than five major
hurricanes which have impacted adversely on the lifeblood of our economies -
the agricultural and tourism sectors.
This scenario, Mr.
Secretary-General, underlines the extreme vulnerability to the impact of
natural disasters that small island developing states (SIDS) like Jamaica
face. The impact is felt not only in relation to our development prospects
given that significant developmental gains are reversed following the passing
of a single hurricane, but even to our very territorial existence. In all
these instances of natural disasters, it is the poor and most vulnerable who
suffer the most.
The alarming frequency and
intensity of severe weather patterns and events such as hurricanes, is but one
of the debilitating effects of climate change. Efforts to reduce disaster
risks will undoubtedly go a far way in addressing climate change. SIDS like
Jamaica cannot be expected to undertake these efforts alone. The support of
the international community is critical given the scale and magnitude of the
challenges being faced.
Within this context, Jamaica
continues to support calls for major emitters of greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs)
to significantly reduce their emissions in keeping with the longstanding
principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective
capabilities. Equally critical is the provision of new and additional
financial resources and technology to assist developing countries like Jamaica
with adaptation as well as mitigation strategies.
But even as we focus on the
reduction of greenhouse gases, it is critically important that we also pay
attention to disaster risk reduction, which must be a core element of climate
change adaptation. In this regard, my delegation believes that we must ensure
that in both Poznan and Copenhagen, disaster risk reduction is explicitly
included in the post-2012 framework. We must recognize the linkage between
adaptation, disaster risk reduction and development.