Good evening, Secretary-General Almagro.
Good evening, colleagues.
Welcome to The Bahamas!
And in some cases – welcome back to The Bahamas.
For those of you who are here for the first time, may it be the first of many visits.
We are so pleased to see you here.
I grew up on a small island, Cat Island, in the southern part of our archipelago. On a small island, strong communities are a way of life, and neighbors learn to care for one another, and to lean on each other during times of trouble. Tonight, decades later, I welcome you in that spirit – because, after all, we are gathered here to be good hemispheric neighbours to one another.
The countries we represent are home to such a beautiful diversity of peoples and languages and cultures.
And in order to protect the people and the places we love, we must work together.
We are here to build solutions in climate finance and sustainable development at a time when such solutions can no longer be postponed.
In order to survive the changing climate, we need to cooperate, we need to coordinate, and we need to collaborate.
Climate finance and sustainable development are paired together because without the first, you cannot have the second.
Consider the billions in hurricane-related debt that burden my country. We have experienced the devastation and destruction of four major storms – Category 4 and Category 5 – in under one decade. Every hurricane leaves us less fiscal space to prepare for the next one – and also means we are underinvesting in our people, our economy, and our future.
Let me be clear, though – it is not just countries like mine with a lot at stake. Any country that cares about security, geopolitical stability, and preventing millions of climate refugees from destabilizing borders, should share our interest in not just changing but revolutionizing climate finance.
So how do we create a path to resilience and survival and success, for my country, and for yours?
We build climate finance solutions that free up resources in this new era of extreme weather.
We work to overhaul multilateral institutions, so that they can de-risk and incentivize new ventures and partnerships, and unleash funding at the scale needed for robust action and investment.
We fight to make sure industrialized countries keep their promises, old and new.
We build innovative insurance solutions, to address gaps in protection and ensure affordability. And we share expertise and technology, because when a country is able to expand renewable energy and energy efficiency policies, we all share in the win.
It is true that our challenges are not identical, and we will not agree on every issue.
But I know we will identify many opportunities for collaboration and for shared advocacy going into COP28.
Although we acknowledge the gravity of the threats we face, there are many reasons to be hopeful:
A new generation of activists is leading with energy and passion.
Human ingenuity is delivering innovations at a breathtaking pace.
And citizens everywhere are joining in the fight.
As you know, just weeks ago, the people of Ecuador voted in a referendum to halt new oil drilling in a national park in the Amazon. Let us honour their courage and their votes, by meeting this moment with determination.
Let’s make the next few days count.