SINT MAARTEN/COMMENTARY - Our country is surrounded by the deep blue Atlantic Ocean on one side the Caribbean Sea on the other. Small Island Developing States (SIDS) such as ours are particularly vulnerable to natural disasters. Global climate change is expected to increase natural disasters, such as hurricanes, floods and drought.
In addition, to climate change, population growth and urban development are increasing the vulnerability of SIDS to natural disasters, particularly in urban and coastal areas. Country Sint Maarten has seen and experienced in the past damages caused by storm systems and inclement weather to those aforementioned areas.
At the end of January it was announced in a discussion at the Dutch Second Chamber of Parliament that Curacao and Sint Maarten have not yet formally indicated whether they want to participate in the Kingdom Law proposal to ratify the 2015 Paris Climate Accord. Aruba has responded that it would like to be a part of the Kingdom Law.
Climate Change is a Kingdom issue and should be addressed at that level, and Sint Maarten should be at the forefront in making sure that it receives the desired and serious attention it deserves.
The topic of climate change was also a discussion point at the recently concluded 15th Overseas Countries and Territories-European Union (OCT-EU) conference in Aruba which was attended by Sint Maarten’s Prime Minister William Marlin.
The effects of global climate change continue on a daily basis. Each year the global community of nations are informed throughout the year about the impact human activities are having on our world. One of the most recent developments is at the North Pole which saw for the month of January sea ice volume melting to a record low, according to the United Nations World Meteorological Agency (WMO).
Sea ice extent was the lowest on the 38-year-old satellite record for the month of January, both at the Arctic and Antarctic, according to data cited WMO from both the US National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) and Germany's Sea ice Portal operated by the Alfred-Wegener-Institut.
“The recovery period for Arctic sea ice is normally in the winter, when it gains both in volume and extent. The recovery this winter has been fragile, at best, and there were some days in January when temperatures were actually above melting point,” said recently David Carlson, Director of the World Climate Research Programme.
He added: “This will have serious implications for Arctic sea ice extent in summer as well as for the global climate system. What happens at the Poles does not stay at the Poles.”
In addition, the ice levels at the Antarctic are also at record lows, even thinner than expected for the summer season there.
The Paris Climate Change Agreement would be beneficial for country Sint Maarten with possible access to the Green Climate Fund, which is a mechanism established to assist SIDS and other countries in adapting to and mitigating the effects of climate change.
Sint Maarten needs a “Climate Change Adapt-Mitigate” Plan of Action as our own very survival as a country depends on it. Investments made in time will allow us to mitigate the changes for generations to continue to develop a vibrant and prosperous country for decades to come. Let’s work towards preparing our country’s readiness and resilience in a time of climate change.