Updated: November 19, 2017

Nov 19th, 2017
"You can catch more Flies with Honey, than Vinegar" Old Proverb

Mr. Skerrit's Speech at the COP23 Climate Change Conference in Bonn, Germany was a childish attempt to "shake down" Big Donors.  For someone who declared that his country was going to be the "first climate resilient nation  in the world", one would have expected Mr. Skerrit to  present a more substantial and inspiring address on behalf of Dominica.  This was an opportunity to show the climate change stakeholders that his administration had, at least, a  broad outline of a climate resilience initiatives for Dominica for which his country was seeking partnership.  Instead, his speech was whiny, complaintive, combative  and downright juvenile.  Mr. Skerrit played the victim. It was if to say to those donor countries that they had  caused climate change and should "pay up". However, does Dominica have a part to play in disaster mitigation? What has the present Leadership in Dominica done to reduce its disaster risk in the past 5 years?

It has been an accepted fact that Dominica is seen as " a highly disaster-prone, small island state" as described by the World Bank in a Working Paper October 2001. Yet, the Labor Administration have neglected to make any real investment in mitigating disaster in vulnerable areas over the 18 year-period that they have been in power. It is estimated that Dominica has realized  in excess of 1.5 billion XCD dollars  from the sale of  passports over the past 5-10 years.  Has any of this money been invested in climate change disaster management? On the contrary, this administration has seen it fit to provide the opportunity for 'Developers' to make millions from Dominica's CBI money.  Disappointingly,  the Labor Administration has made these funds available for hotel building in environmentally vulnerable and climate-sensitive regions of the island.  For instance, Soufriere is one of the vulnerable and volcanologically active areas in Dominica. The ravages of Maria on this community speaks for itself.  Why wasn't a fund established from CBI passport sales with the goal of managing vulnerable communities?  Such a fund could have been used, for example, to move residents away from the coast, build climate-resilient hurricane shelters, construct sea and river defense structures.  Instead, the Labor Party Administration has committed millions of Dominica CBI money to a developer to build a hotel in that area on Mount Acouma. How irresponsible and short sighted? 

In another instant, in the town of Portsmouth, investors have been given the opportunity to sell hundreds of Dominica's  passports through CBI, to build 2 luxurious Hotel Resorts in vulnerable areas.  What type of investment in disaster management has been undertaken in those areas? Are there any climate Resilient Community shelters?  Is there a proper hospital? Just Imagine building two Five Star resorts in a region where a hospital is barely functioning.  What disaster management mitigation were  instituted for the 1200 Ross medical students who reside in that community?

Mr. Skerrit's address at the Cop 23 in Bonn appeared to have come from a leader who is totally disconnected from his role. It is not surprising that Mr. Skerrit  seemed to have missed the whole purpose of the Bonn Conference. He overlooked the fact that some of organizations and countries had already invested millions globally to reduce the effect of Climate Change; some sort of acknowledgement of the fact would have been seen as appreciative of their work.  Instead, he was accusatory of their tardiness in releasing more money. This behavior is disingenuous, especially when one considers the massive waste of Dominica's money that has occurred during this Administration's tenure. In 'better times' the Labor Administrated has operated as if Dominica is on another planet. They have been jolted back to reality after a disaster such as Maria and now realize that Dominica is in the "real world" and needs help.  Hence, it is not surprising that Mr. Skerrit's address displayed anxiety, annoyance and a sense of entitlement.  As usual, Mr. Skerrit was thinking short term; he failed to see the big picture.  The conference was aimed at combating climate change globally and to assist countries, including small island states, to progress towards a state of resiliency. The aim is not to restore states back to "old status" 

Indeed, the idea that Dominica could become the the first climate resilient nation is certainly interesting but the world is still waiting to hear the broad plans. It is doubtful whether the Labor Administration and its overcompensated advisors  will be able to come up with any meaningful suggestions to put Dominica on that path. They are incapable of such a long term vision. Much of their actions have a single overarching principle. Whatever is undertaken most serve to benefit the Labor Party administration and its supporters. Any benefits to the broader Dominican population is secondary.  Mr. Skerrit, his inner circle and advisors are too small minded and petty to manage an encompassing vision like climate resilience. His address at the COP 23 Summit On November 16th was a stark reminder of his limitations. Bullying can only get you so far; it will not work on the international stage.

Therefore the Dominican people must be made aware of the fact that, in addition to facilities available at the Cop23, there are  millions of dollars available for Climate Resilience structure and readiness through other International Programs and Agencies. There are also private parties that would like to invest in Green Ventures. In the specific case of Bonn, it would have been "visionary" if Mr. Skerrit would had gone to the Conference with a broad plan focusing on 1) People protection,  2) Protecting the Energy Supply and 3) Reforestation. For example, he could have proposed that due to the severe impact of Maria on the electric grid, there were immediate plans to retrofit all Public buildings with hurricane-resilient, Solar Capability Roofs and that he was looking for partners;  this would have gotten their attention. It is not too late for the Administration to broaden its circle of advisers and reach out to capable individuals who can help Dominica achieve the goal of being "the first climate resilient nation in the world". How difficult can that be?