Ambassador Lois Young of the Permanent Mission of Belize to the UN in conversation with Nosh Nalavala
Nosh Nalavala: The SIDS Conference in Samoa last year laid out a pathway for collective action and success within the Post-2015 development agenda. Do you feel that Belize is getting its fair share of support within the Caribbean countries?
Ambassador Lois Young: Yes, Belize does get financial assistance from different sources, including the European Union. That aid is towards the fulfillment of our two goals: poverty reduction and governance. A few weeks back the UN Secretary-General met with heads of CARICOM and adopted a declaration about climate change.
Q: Do you get funding for mitigation and adaptation?
A: We do not have an issue with mitigation; our emissions are so miniscule, compared to other countries. What we need is assistance with adaptation and our coastal communities are facing dissolving coral reefs and major environmental issues.
Q: So most of the assistance you get are for development and not for the environment?
A: Everything hinges on the Global Climate Fund. 50% of the funds from the Global Climate Fund will be allocated to SIDS and LDCs and a half of that 50% will go towards adaptation and mitigation.
Q: What is the current budget of the Global Climate Fund?
A: As of April this year, I understand that the Global Climate Fund has reached the $10 billion mark. And countries can only access the funds if they have tangible projects.
Q: And these projects that AOSIS members will come up with will fall within the purview of the Sustainable Development Goals?
A: Yes, the projects are tailored to alleviating the impact of climate change. In fact, climate change is a crosscutting issue with the Sustainable Development Goals. We cannot compartmentalize them; they are two sides of a coin: suitable development on one side and alleviating the impact of climate change, reducing greenhouse gases and emissions to 1.5°C on the other side.
Q: As the world prepares for a new sustainability framework, obviously a number of critical partnerships will need to be strengthened. As co-chair of AOSIS what steps are you recommending to your members towards capacity building?
A: We advocate global partnerships towards capacity building. Samoa conference was very focused on global partnerships and a shared vision; an acceptable sharing of obligations between developed and developing countries.
Q: Do mean North-South Cooperation?
A: Yes, also South-South cooperation and Triangular cooperation.
Q: What is is your mandate or mission as vice-chair of AOSIS?
A: The mission is to prevent tax evasion, fight corruption and illicit funds be brought back to our respective countries from abroad. AOSIS countries want fair international trading regulations. These are the issues in the Sustainable Development Goals and AOSIS is subscribing to them. For us to achieve these objectives we need assistance with data collection, assess our goals, and analyze them.
Q: Would funding that AOSIS members get from the Global Climate Fund be used for adaptation and mitigation or for other areas as well?
A: We are now pressing for funds for “loss and damage” as a result of the damage already done, like ocean acidification. Unfortunately, this has not got traction with our partners, but it’s a huge issue for us as members when damage has been done by developed countries to reach their level of development at our expense.
Q: Is the voice of AOSIS being heard in the climate talks?
A: Yes, we make the statements and I believe that we are being heard, but the negotiating structure is not perfect. AOSIS negotiations go through the G-77, so we have to depend on them.
Q: To what extent have the AOSIS countries had a shortfall in fulfilling the MDGs and how do they visualize the road to success with the Sustainable Development Goals?
A: 50% of the MDGs were not fulfilled. We did not do well in maternal child health and distribution of potable water and we also did not do well in fulfilling educational goals, but we did fairly well with poverty reduction. We see success with the SDGs because it has a big focus on “means of implementation”. There is an added focus on global partnerships in the SDGs and there is an ongoing debate about means of implementation in the Post-2015 agenda that would be wider in scope and encompass many of the Millennium Development Goals. There is a renewed commitment by the international community with an emphasis on global partnerships and that will help us in our eventual success.
Interview first appeared in the UN publication THE COMMITMENT