Prime Minister Andrew Holness used his historic address at the G7 summit in Canada to ask the gathering to help Small Island Developing States (SIDS) to develop their resilience to natural disasters.

Mr. Holness says the ability of SIDS to have sustainable development is hampered by the effects of climate change.

Addressing the G7 Outreach Session in Quebec on Saturday, Mr. Holness said SIDS need to be empowered to take charge of their development through economic growth.

Mr. Holness told the G7 summit that SIDS in the Caribbean haven’t been able to effectively respond to climate change threats like rising sea levels and stronger hurricanes. He says each year, Caribbean countries have their economic growth interrupted by natural disasters.

Mr. Holness says because of this, building resilience is not optional, it’s an imperative for survival.

According to Mr. Holness, the Caribbean has taken action through legislation and agencies like the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency, CDEMA.

But, he says some SIDS can’t afford to borrow money to invest in resilience building because of high public debt and the lack of fiscal space to invest in climate change adaptation measures.

He also pointed to the classification of many SIDS as Upper Middle Income States according to their Gross National Income.

Prime Minister Holness says this affects their eligibility to access disaster recovery funding.

He also told the summit that solutions for SIDS could lie in partnerships with G7 countries through trade and investment.

The Prime Minister says it’s sustainable growth which will empower SIDS to ensure prosperity, while taking care of the ocean, land and general environment.

Meanwhile, Mr. Holness says the G7 nations are committed to assisting SIDS with climate change.

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He says he’s happy to have been given the opportunity to speak at the summit on behalf of all SIDS.

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