H.E. Mr. Roosevelt Skerrit, Prime Minister
26 September 2008
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ROOSEVELT SKERRIT, Prime Minister of Dominica, said that the Assembly was meeting during a time of great international uncertainty stemming from the food crisis, an increasingly unstable international financial system, and volatility in the supply and cost of energy. Globalization continued to change the dynamics of economic survival and sustainability for small and vulnerable States, such as Dominica. Those States felt they had “fallen off the radar screen” of developed countries, especially in the key areas of trade and financing for development.
He said the word “change” -- constantly being offered as the panacea for all challenges and problems facing humanity -- was beginning to ring hollow with young people around the world. What was really needed was “meaningful change”, and a greater global commitment to making that “change” happen. Calling attention to the fatalities and casualties during the 2008 Atlantic hurricane season, he said the people of hurricane-ravaged Haiti, Cuba, Jamaica, and the Turks and Caicos would gladly welcome “meaningful change” that made a real difference in the delivery of relief and eased their suffering.
While noting the turbulence in today’s international financial markets, Dominica suffered one of the worst economic crises of its history, from 2002 to 2003, as the banana industry deteriorated. This occurred after the United States supported challenges to the European Union Banana Import Regime of the World Trade Organization. He had recalled those dire circumstances to emphasize the resolve, resilience and determination of Dominica’s people, and the indifference of others to the plight of small developing nations.
“Meaningful change” should quicken the pace of the climate change negotiations at Poznań, Poland, later this year, with the objective of providing a realistic and attainable framework for a 2009 agreement in Copenhagen. He pointed to the PetroCaribe initiative, set up by Venezuela in 2005 to address the energy crisis in the region, as an example of meaningful change. That initiative had supplied fuel through a flexible payment facility to 18 countries in the Caribbean and Central America, which were net oil importers. He also applauded the Government of Trinidad and Tobago for creating a Special Petroleum Fund for member States of the Caribbean Community in 2004, which provided timely grant funding to meet general development objectives.
The food crisis was another area where “meaningful change” would make a difference. The soaring price of rice, a staple for many people in the developing world, was of particular concern. He endorsed the Secretary-General’s conclusion that the crisis was a “moral outrage”, and that the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals was threatened by the “double jeopardy of high food and fuel prices”. All of those events called for a change in attitude and change in practice, and the people we were elected to serve were committed to, and longed for, this “change”, he said.