H.E. Mr. Tillman Thomas, Prime Minister and Minister of National Security, Information and Legal Affairs
26 September 2008
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TILLMAN THOMAS, Prime Minister of Grenada, said the world had entered an era where the basis of international engagement was driven more by trade in goods and services and the distribution of the ownership of technology than by notions of sovereignty. Small States like Grenada were being pressed to justify their economic viability and must undergo fundamental diplomatic change.
Grenada would strategize to eradicate extreme poverty and expand productive sectors of the economy, particularly agriculture, with an emphasis placed on mobilizing youth, stimulating rural economy and providing food security. Universal primary education had already been achieved, and the country now aimed for households to have at least one university graduate by the year 2025. Relatively good progress had also been made towards improving maternal health, decreasing child mortality and combating HIV/AIDS and other diseases, as well, he added.
Turning to the issue of climate change, he said that phenomena represented the most pressing challenge to the viability -- and “very existence” -- of small island developing States. Despite contributing very little to the release of greenhouse gases, those States had, nevertheless, been forced to contend with its devastating effects. Coral bleaching, rising sea levels, salt water intrusion, water scarcity and increasingly severe weather events were now having real financial and social costs on already vulnerable island State economies.
Having first-hand experience of the trauma, pain and economic loss associated with natural disasters, he expressed solidarity with Cuba, Haiti, Jamaica and the Turks and Caicos Islands, and voiced strong support for AOSIS political declaration on the urgency of responding to climate change, to be adopted on Monday, 29 September. He also welcomed Japan’s grant-aid programme for environmental and climate change under its “Cool Earth Partnership Initiative”.