July 6, 2019
The Secretary-General of the United Nations, António Guterres, visited the Praslin Bay in Saint Lucia this week, where he saw firsthand the devastating effects of Sargassum seaweed.
He was accompanied by Saint Lucia’s Minister of Sustainable Development, Education and Gender Environmental, Doctor Gale Rigobert.
According to a post on the official Facebook page of Saint Lucia’s Prime Minister Allen Chastanet, the top UN official heard from fishermen and sea moss farmers on the impact the sargassum problem is having in their community.
The weed creates a strong stench, kills marine vegetation and creatures, and disrupts coastal activities such as fishing and tourism.
It also presents a health hazard as bacteria begin to spread as the seaweed decomposes.
“I have seen firsthand the serious impact that Sargassum is having on Praslin Bay and its people, threatening the economy of an entire community and the precious marine ecosystem,” the UN Secretary General was quoted as saying.
He was briefed on national and regional efforts to tackle this issue, including not just large-scale clean-ups but also using alternative solutions such as using Sargassum as a fertilizer, it was reported.
According to the post on the PM’s official Facebook page, the UN Chief said he was deeply impressed by the landscape that resembled an algae desert for hundreds of metres.
“Climate change is one of the causes for this, along with marine pollution and phosphates brought into the sea by big rivers. Seeing the Sargassum and the effect it is having on people only reaffirms the urgency of taking climate action and finding sustainable solutions to keep our oceans healthy. Oceans don’t know borders, nor does climate. It is a global collective responsibility to take action now,” Guterres said.
The Secretary-General’s visit to Saint Lucia comes two months ahead of his Climate Summit, it was noted.
He has called on world leaders to come to the Summit in New York with concrete, realistic plans to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by 45 per cent over the next decade, and to achieve net zero emissions by 2050.
“Praslin Bay is an example of how climate change is affecting vulnerable communities, but its effects are rapidly affecting people and economies worldwide. I was heartened to see that Saint Lucia is working on innovative solutions to the problem and that it is working with other Caribbean countries to lead the way in climate action, adaptation and mitigation. The international community should support these efforts by providing the necessary public and private resources needed to tackle these pressing issues.” the Secretary-General was quoted as saying.