Prime Minister Davis’s remarks at the 8th Summit of Leaders from the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC)

Chair, Comrade, I would first like to thank the Government of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines for convening and hosting this Eighth Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Community of Latin American and the Caribbean States (CELAC). 

I also wish to commend Saint Vincent and the Grenadines on its Chairmanship over the past year, which has been exemplary, and has demonstrated the unity and solidarity we share throughout our region. 

We look forward to working with Honduras as they take on the role of pro tempore presidency. 

Multilateral Cooperation 

Colleagues, we have reached a stage where, as a community of states and as a regional bloc, we need to think differently about the structure of our multilateral cooperation. As a region, we have a unique opportunity to collectively engage in multilateral agenda setting. 

There are two keys issues that impact The Bahamas where there is scope for greater support and collaboration: climate change and global tax governance. 

We have experienced the challenges of a framework convention on climate change, and I wish to signal  that, unless we can find a cause for collective agenda setting and solidarity, we will experience challenges in negotiations towards a framework convention on global tax governance. 

Climate change

First allow me to speak on the issue of climate change. As we begin to form our intent for SIDS4 and COP29, major regional advocacy efforts must be taken to prevent any further erasure or erosion of the special circumstances of the Caribbean and Latin America across the UN climate change negotiations. 

I support Barbados’ push for a deeper level of commitment to tackling the crises stemming from climate change and conflict, and mobilizing climate financing for adaptation and mitigation. As some of us in the region are preparing for SIDS4, we ask you to support new priority areas of action on the sustainable development priorities of the Small Islands and low-lying Coastal States. 

Operationalizing the Loss and Damage Fund

COP 28 marked a significant milestone in the establishment of the Loss and Damage Fund, securing $726 million in pledges. However, developing countries have estimated the actual need is $400 billion per year.  We must now focus on operationalizing the Fund, which will require a concerted effort to engage developed states. 

The Loss and Damage Fund Board remains incomplete due to the non-submission of nominations by developed country groups, jeopardizing the fund’s activation. Together, we must urge our developed country partners to promptly identify their representatives to the Board. 

The Bahamas is committed to ensuring that countries in our region receive the necessary financial support to mitigate and adapt to climate-induced damages. As a member of the fund’s board, we are dedicated to facilitating its structure and management for the benefit of all vulnerable nations. 

We welcome the pledges of financial support from United Arab Emirates, Germany, European Union, United States, Canada, Japan and others. We want to emphasize that climate loss and damage is a matter of climate justice and that any politicization of the fund is an injustice to humanity. 

International Court of Justice Advisory Opinion

Colleagues would recall the United Nations General Assembly, at its sixty-fourth plenary meeting held on 29 March 2023, adopted resolution 77/276 which requests the International Court of Justice to provide an advisory opinion on state’s obligations regarding climate change and the legal consequences under these obligations for harm to the climate system, especially as they impact SIDS and future generations.

The ICJ has invited all states to make written submissions by  March 22, 2024. The Bahamas is making a submission in the interest of climate justice and invite all CELAC member states to join us in doing so. Furthermore, I encourage the members of this body to coordinate our participation, and The Bahamas stands ready to collaborate in support of an advisory opinion that seeks to define the obligations of States under international law to ensure the protection of the climate system and those most vulnerable to climate change.  [CW1] 

Addressing Concerns on Global Stocktaking Text (GST)

Concerns arose at COP28 regarding the Global Stocktaking Text’s effectiveness in driving transformative action. SIDS, in particular, are concerned about potential loopholes in the GST outcomes. Robust mechanisms within the GST are necessary to drive meaningful progress towards climate goals. The Bahamas advocates for a thorough review and enhancement of the GST to ensure it adequately addresses the needs of vulnerable nations.

Fostering Global Solidarity and Cooperation

Climate change is a global challenge which requires collective action and solidarity among nations. The Bahamas stands ready, as always, to work with CELAC and international partners to implement ambitious climate policies, enhance resilience, and protect the most vulnerable communities. We developed a positive working relationship with the United Arab Emirates during COP28 and we would like to continue this by building a relationship with Azerbaijan leading up to COP29.

Negotiations on the New Collective Quantified Goal (NCQG) on Climate Finance will conclude at COP29. This outcome will decide the new global financial target for climate finance (beyond the $100 billion/year goal) to support developing countries and properly define “climate finance”. Our region must continue to actively participate in these negotiations and meetings to ensure our needs are met and are represented at the highest levels.

UN Tax Convention

Colleagues, we approach the work accomplished by the Economic Commission for Latin American and the Caribbean on creating a regional tax cooperation platform. And we call for similar support for a multilateral approach for tax cooperation at the United Nations. 

The Bahamas takes the view that just as climate and corruption have been addressed with framework conventions, so should tax governance. The framework convention model defines basic commitments, where states have the opportunity to adopt additional standards and protocols that respond to domestic or regional concerns. It is about maximizing collaboration and compatibility incrementally.

Global Tax Governance: A Multilateral Approach 

We advocate for this United Nations led multilateral approach to global tax governance because it is transparent, inclusive, fair, and predictable. We have been adversely affected by the use of OECD, FATF and EU blacklists, which have been threatened and imposed with a lack of transparency, fairness or predictability. We question the utility of blacklists in light of the extraordinary economic damage it inflicts upon small developing countries.  

We believe that the UN system has the procedural transparency and legitimacy to support political, diplomatic and technical negotiations. We are proud members of the Ad Hoc Committee to Draft Terms of Reference for a United Nations Framework Convention on International Tax Cooperation.

A UN tax convention shifts technocratic negotiations on international tax into a political space where small island states like The Bahamas are on equal footing. More steps must be taken to bridge the geopolitical divide and give a greater voice to the nations of the Global South and the challenges that we face.  This is the reason we support the United Nations as the global tax policy standard making body.  

Climate Justice Tax Justice Nexus 

Colleagues, blacklisting and the threat of blacklisting has prevented The Bahamas from accessing financing from international financial institutions, including financing required for climate adaptation, mitigation, and climate/ natural hazard recovery. Our right to development has been violated as blacklists have caused financial diversion away from developmental investment; caused de-risking and job loss; and has limited our ability to recover from natural disasters brought on by climate change.  

Simply put, The Bahamas is spending too much time and money on applying tax rules and trying to recover from the severe economic consequences of blacklists and not enough time and money on developing progressive tax policies to fund the government’s allocation of revenue for social and economic policies including those policies required for climate related challenges. 


Colleagues, I call upon each of you to continue our urgent advocacy for just and equitable climate financing, which requires a progressive approach to global tax governance. Let our region continue to leverage the multilateral space, to remain stewards of our own destinies, and showcase unity in the face of adversity.

Thank you.