St. Kitts – Nevis’ PM Speaks Out On Climate Change

St. Kitts - Nevis' PM - Denzil Douglas

St. Kitts – Nevis’ PM – Denzil Douglas
Photo By Erasmus Williams

Basseterre, St. Kitts – Nevis
May 07, 2011 (CUOPM)

The issue of climate change was one of several matters discussed Wednesday between St. Kitts and Nevis’ Prime Minister Hon. Dr. Denzil L. Douglas and Australia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Right Hon. Kevin Rudd during a world wind visit to St. Kitts Wednesday.

Mr. Rudd, a former Australian Prime Minister arrived here Tuesday night and departed Wednesday afternoon after calling on Prime Minister Douglas and making a presentation to Caribbean Ministers of Foreign Affairs during the 14th Meeting of the Council for Foreign and Community Relations (COFCOR) of the Caribbean Community.

In welcoming Mr. Rudd, Prime Minister Douglas said Australia is a committed partner to St. Kitts and Nevis and the Caribbean Community “and we always took forward to opportunities like these where we can exchange ideas with the view of strengthening our ties and exploring areas for further cooperation with each other.”

“We express our deep appreciation for the support that Australia has provided to St. Kitts and Nevis in the past and to the Caribbean Community,” Dr. Douglas told Mr. Rudd.

He praised the Australian Foreign Minister for his country’s commitment to earthquake-stricken Haiti despite Australia’s own widespread flooding last year.

“We are pleased Australia continues to cooperate with CARICOM in alleviating the plight of the Haitian people,” said Prime Minister Douglas who noted that climate change is an important issue for the Caribbean countries as well as other small island states.

Mr. Rudd told Prime Minister Douglas that Australia takes its relationship with the Caribbean very seriously and pointed to the Memorandum of Understanding that Australia under his leadership as Prime Minister signed with CARICOM in Trinidad and Tobago in 2009,

“Prior to that Australia’s engagement with CARICOM was on the thin side and subsequent to that it has expanded significantly, We are committed to an overall programme of engagement with the region in the vicinity of US$17 million to programmes which are being rolled out in such areas as climate change, economic resilience, training, employment, governance and scholarships in areas such as international relations and diplomacy,” said the Australian official.

He said Australia did not anticipate the recent earthquake disaster in Haiti which has been phenomenal and “we have been a reasonable contributor to the recovery efforts in the region of   US$26 million with an additional US$26 million from the Australian public.

“The important thing is that our contribution to Haiti is not just a promised but every dollar is being delivered within the first 12 months and this has been recognised by the UN and the Special Commission that has been established headed by (Former US President) Bill Clinton and the Haitian Government for the delivery of foreign assistance,” said Mr. Rudd.

Mr. Rudd’s first engagement with the Caribbean on the issue of climate change was during the period as the Prime Minister in Port of Spain, Trinidad when a lot of work was done on securing climate change finance for small island developing states in particularly the proposal for a US$30 billion fast start fund for such countries around the world which shaped the outcome at Copenhagen in 2009 and incorporated within the form of the United Nations machinery in Cancun, Mexico a few months ago.

Australian funds have been invested in the Caribbean Climate Change Centre and the Natural Disaster Management Centre.

Climate change is expected to be on the agenda when of the upcoming Commonwealth Heads of Government Conference (CHOGM) in Pert, Australia this coming October.

Rudd, who attended the COFCOR meeting, said Australia backed the plan, which would be part of a broad CHOGM agenda.

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