Monies in Loss and Damage Fund insufficient- PM Gonsalves
March 15, 2024
Monies in Loss and Damage Fund insufficient- PM Gonsalves

Prime Minister, Dr. Ralph Gonsalves has said that the amount of money currently in the Loss and Damage Fund pledged at the last Conference of the People (COP) is not enough to sustain reconstruction of damage sustained on a scale like what Dominica experienced during the passage of Hurricane Maria in September 2017.

He was speaking on Saturday morning March 2, 2024, while on a tour of the North Windward part of mainland St. Vincent with UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres. The tour convoy had stopped at Sandy Bay where the media contingent posed some questions.

“The current sum inside of the Loss and Damage Fund would not be enough to take care of Maria-scale damage as in Dominica, and that’s one island. So that should give you, apart from all the bureaucratic wrangling as to who the Europeans are not appointing in time, the directors and their delays and so forth, the quantum of money is just too small. And what we have to do, in addition to the loss and damage, we have to make sure that the loss is reduced, that we deal with the question of keeping global warming within the particular parameters of the Paris Accord…,”Dr. Gonsalves said in response to a question.

COP28 agreed to the establishment of a Loss and Damage Fund to help developing countries cope with the effects of Climate Change.

Dr Gonsalves said there is a facility, “but there is the lack of assurance to ensure that countries that absolutely need that money do get the assistance that they need”.

“Since COP28, many different countries have been wrangling over that they deserve the assistance more than that country deserves it, while Small Island Developing Countries like St Vincent and the Grenadines struggle to get the assistance that they need,” he pointed out.

In addition to that, Prime Minister Gonsalves said there is “the slow pace at which funding is approved and funds disbursed”.

The UN Secretary General was quick to note that “We need to have, very expedite[ed] decisions on projects that are so small as the one we are seeing. Projects of this dimension cannot be dealt with the same bureaucracy of projects of billions of dollars. This requires quick decisions and quick operationalization of the money available, and much more funding because the people of the small developing states are in the front line of climate change. They did not contribute to global warming, but they are paying the price of global warming”.

The international diplomat added that “There is a need for increased financing and projects to protect the island against the sea and against the floods, the storms. We absolutely need much more solidarity and much more efficiency in the international community, giving the possibility to have access to quick decisions on low-cost finance.”

That portion of the mainland is one of many areas being gradually eroded by the sea, and the Government is undertaking sea defence projects to seek to halt the erosion.

Viewing the evidence of the erosion, the UN Secretary General also noted that there is a need to get the developed world to deliver on what they have pledged.

“We are far from having climate justice prevailing. We are very strongly insisting on the need to fully match the commitments that were made by developed countries, and at the same time, we see loss and damage. Now we have a Loss and Damage Fund, but we need to have a lot of money put on it, and it’s not yet there…It’s absolutely essential to support countries like St. Vincent and the Grenadines that are doing an enormous effort, and I’ve seen these efforts here, and I praise the people and government of St. Vincent for what they are doing but they need much more financial support at low cost and quickly decided.”

The UN Secretary General on his tour, also visited the completed sea defence project in Georgetown.