The members of the Caribbean community need to ensure that developed countries honor past pledges for climate assistance and create new criteria for determining which countries can obtain such aid at the November climate talks in Egypt, Bahamian PM Philip Davis said in a speech.
"If we advance our interests merely as individual Small Island Developing States, our voices will be dispersed, unable to be heard above louder, wealthier, carbon-producing interests," he said.
Eighteen Caribbean countries were invited to the two-day gathering in Nassau, which is expected to yield an "outcome paper" that will be presented at the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference, commonly referred to as COP27.
Davis said he was encouraged by recent climate change mitigation efforts by the United States and Australia.
But he added that "we are commitment-fatigued and we are pledge-fatigued," noting that rich nations had not met a promise to provide $100 billion in climate aid to poor countries by 2020.
Caribbean leaders have for years said their countries' per-capita income is too high for them to qualify for aid, a metric many say does not take into account heavy debt burdens generated by paying for the effects of climate change.
Davis said Caribbean countries should back a new index based on vulnerability to climate shocks, which could help provide new resources to the region.
Caribbean nations are among the world's most vulnerable to climate change due to the outsized impact of tropical storms, as well as growing problems caused by droughts and flooding.
(Reporting by Jasper Ward in Nassau; Additional reporting by Brian Ellsworth; Editing by Paul Simao)
By Jasper Ward