Opinion: The time is now

POSTED: 04/3/14 4:21 PM

Dear Editor,

Climate Change: We cannot negotiate with nature. We have to take action now. The time is now.

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon recently visited Greenland where he got first-hand opportunity to see the impacts of climate change, where the melting of ice sheets is accelerating and expressed deep concern at fast-moving glaciers which can raise sea levels, affecting the entire international community of nation’s environmental systems.

He further added, “It’s not only Greenland’s people – it’s the people of the whole world who are threatened because of this rapidly changing climate change.”  The people of the world also include the people of Sint Maarten/St. Martin.

As a country, we have to take on this issue, especially when we talk about sustainable development, and the National Development Plan (NDP).

Ban Ki-moon adds, and I quote: “There may be still many studies to make, the nature and the impact of the climate change, but (there is) one, simple plain fact: climate change is happening much, much faster than we might think.”

Country Sint Maarten has two opportunities at hand to elevate this issue to the Kingdom level and at the highest political level.

The Kingdom Conference in Aruba that begins today would have been the opportune time for the countries within the Kingdom to address the climate change issue.  It would have also been an opportunity for country Sint Maarten to bring forward the issue as an agenda point.

I commend Aruba for taking the initiative for adding an additional point to the agenda of the Kingdom Conference, SIDS (Small Island Developing States) issues. Small countries face big challenges that restrict sustainable development of the islands. One of the key issues for country Sint Maarten today is sustainable development, and we must use our position as a country in the Kingdom to capitalize on the matter and the opportunities that exist that will also benefit our socio-economic development in the mid to long-term.

The second opportunity is the planned parliamentary tri-partite meeting that will take place from April 7 to 9 involving representatives from the Parliaments of Aruba, Curacao and Sint Maarten.

Climate change touches upon the very issues that will be discussed at the Kingdom Conference and these include children’s rights; economic cooperation within the Kingdom; and reports from four workgroups in the areas of cooperation, practical bottlenecks and differences in interpretation in the Kingdom, dispute resolution, and the movement of persons and goods between countries in the Kingdom.

Caribbean countries are forging a united front according to St. Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, chairman of the 15-member Caribbean Community (Caricom) where he says that the promises of money by the biggest polluters in the world for small island developing states like his to adapt to climate change are mostly a mirage. Gonsalves said the region will be playing a leading role in getting the Caribbean Basin to coordinate a united front on climate change finance.

According to the latest report entitled, “Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability,” and just released, the effects of climate change are already occurring in all continents and across the oceans, and the world, for the most part, is ill-prepared for the risks.

Sint Maarten needs to decide because climate change poses the biggest threat to our livelihoods and our sustainability as a country. Green planning is the future and the way to move forward where country Sint Maarten becomes climate-resilient. Ban Ki-moon concludes: “We cannot negotiate with nature.  A lot of disasters, natural disasters, have happened.”

“We have to take action now.  The time is now,…” and the same can be said for country Sint Maarten.  Building a climate resilient country entails opportunity and sustainable development for the society that we have today and for generations to come. What we start today will continue for  generations to come, but at least today’s generation recognized the importance of taking action now.

Roddy Heyliger


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