Prime Minister Philip “Brave” Davis addresses the 76th Session of the UN General Assembly at the United Nations headquarters in New York. Photo: Eduardo Munoz/AP
By Taneka Thompson
Tribune News Editor
PRIME Minister Philip “Brave” Davis called on world leaders to ensure vaccine equity and to take concrete steps to address climate change, which adversely affects small island developing states like The Bahamas.
He made the request while speaking at the 76th Session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Saturday.
Speaking about access to COVID-19 vaccines, he told world leaders “you will only be safe when we are all safe.”
“We must collaborate to end the COVID-19 pandemic and address public health issues,” Mr Davis said in his first international speech as the nation’s leader. “We must cooperate to mitigate the effects of climate change. And access to development financing must be equitable and fair.
“An inadequate response to these issues will have dire consequences for the global economy.
“. . .This crisis made abundantly clear what has always been true: we’re all in this together.
In every country, we have lost loved ones. We have seen our healthcare workers battle bravely. We have contended with disruption, uncertainty, and grief.”
Mr Davis said the pandemic has been hard for countries like The Bahamas which has an “extraordinary need for new resources in health and education and housing just as our economy is contracting dramatically.”
He stressed the need for equitable distribution of vaccines to ensure the world is safe.
“That includes distribution to small island developing states, who are not manufacturers. Stockpiling for self-preservation is a fallacy. Our demand for vaccines has significantly out- stripped supply.”
Mr Davis said along with vaccines, it is important that safe treatments and therapeutics are made accessible and designated as public goods. He said there is a need to fortify critical global supply chains, and distribution mechanisms.
On the issue of climate change, Mr Davis said small islands are hit hardest by the phenomenon, but are the least responsible. He called for actionable change to address the issue.
“Colleagues, in a few short weeks, we will meet in Glasgow, Scotland. The 26th Climate Change Conference cannot be like the 25 that preceded it – we cannot pretend that incremental change is sufficient. We cannot set goals we have no intention of meeting. We cannot keep postponing the change we need for countries like mine to survive.
“If we are the serious leaders these times require, we must raise our ambitions, and make real commitments to cut emissions.”
He said along with other CARICOM nations, The Bahamas calls for greater climate financing and the need for more engagement and progress on a climate investment platform.
“And, as a matter of priority, more innovative financing and debt solutions are needed, including debt for climate adaptation swaps. We also look forward to the capitalization of a Caribbean Resilience Fund. We also need adequate resourcing and timely access to the ‘Green Climate Fund’ and the ‘Climate Finance Accelerator.’”
Mr Davis said his party is focused on renewable initiatives. He said his government will build structural and economic resilience in a green recovery with plans to invest in climate-smart infrastructure and environmental protection.
The Bahamas will lead on wetland and ocean preservation, and will seek re-election to the International Maritime Organization, he said.