Our country is vulnerable because of its small size, its dependence on many critical imports, its large negative balance of trade, its narrow resource base, and its topography and geography. Some of these vulnerabilities cannot be reversed, but all of them can be mitigated by sound, strategic government policies.
Our economic base must be expanded to reduce our reliance on tourism as its primary driver. Where possible, we should also look to create a more conducive environment for the development of local goods and services that can displace some of the imported products. While we cannot expand our resource base, we can and must make better use of our existing resources - our land, our marine space, and our people. This is why pursuing a development agenda that is balanced and takes advantage of opportunities in the green, blue and orange economies is vital.
COVID-19 exposed the vulnerabilities in our health and social ecosystem. Unfortunately, we will need to adjust to living with COVID-19 while we prepare for the prospect of more pandemics in the future. This will require us to strengthen our public health infrastructure, provide better and more efficient social safety nets, and work on reducing the inequalities in our society.
Climate change poses an existential threat to lives and livelihoods in Saint Lucia. Our status as a small island developing State (SIDS), which is located within the Atlantic hurricane path, with most of its population and economic and social infrastructure near the coast, means that we are at ground zero of the battle against climate change. Adjusting to the grave threats posed by more severe hurricanes, more frequent droughts, more hot days, increased flooding, sea level rise, greater frequency of forest and bush fires, warmer and more acidic oceans, and loss of important biodiversity, must become an important element of the work program of government and the preoccupation of our citizens.
If we are to survive and be viable as a nation, we must develop resilience to our many economic, social and environmental threats.
Building a sustainable and resilient country, therefore, is a major preoccupation for our movement.