Bahamas PM warns region at great risk of climate change

CDM 10 underway in The Bahamas (Photo via CDEMA)
CDM 10 underway in The Bahamas (Photo via CDEMA)

NASSAU, The Bahamas, Dec 5, CMC – The 10th Caribbean Conference on Comprehensive Disaster Management (CDM) has begun here with Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis noting that small-island developing states in the region are at great risk of climate change.

The conference, which ends on Saturday, is being held under the theme ‘CDM: The Road to Resilience Check Point 2017 – Building Resilience through Partnerships’.

It is taking place as the region continues the rebuilding efforts following the end of the 2017 Atlantic Hurricane season that saw two category five storms – Irma and Maria – cause widespread destruction and death across the Lesser Antilles as well as the Bahamas.

Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Anguilla, the Turks and Caicos Islands and the British Virgin islands were among the islands hard4est hit after the hurricanes pounded the region with winds in excess of 200 miles per hour.

Via CMC (more…)

Climate Action and Trade Governance: Prospects for Tourism and Travel in Small Island Developing States

Damage in Barbuda after Hurricane Irma
Damage in Barbuda after Hurricane Irma

2017 will go down as a landmark year given the huge impact of hurricanes on the economic, social and ecological environments in the wider Caribbean. The decimation of several island territories, such as Dominica, Anguilla, Barbuda, St. Maarten, Turks and Caicos, US and British Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico have taken hundreds of lives and destroyed livelihoods in key sectors like tourism. Take the case of Dominica that had a direct hit from category 5 hurricane Maria on September 18, 2017.1 It is estimated that 35% of the reefs at dive sites in Dominica were damaged, and a month later only 43% of accommodation properties are operational. Hurricane Maria went on to hit Puerto Rico that is now facing a humanitarian crisis.2

The economic losses for the Caribbean are staggering. For instance, the initial estimates from damages by hurricane Irma are larger than the annual GDP of the smaller territories (see figure )3 — about 130% of the GDP for St. Maarten, 250% for St. Martin, 140% for the British Virgin Islands, 37% for Turks and Caicos, 95% for Anguilla, and 15% for Antigua and Barbuda. In contrast, the impact for larger territories like Florida and Cuba are 5.3% and 2.6%, respectively. This data illustrates how vulnerable small island developing states (SIDS) are to the environmental impact of climate change and how quickly these economies can accumulate high debt-to-GDP ratios because of the rebuilding costs from a weather disaster.4

Read more at: OECD Development Matters

Major Financial Institutions willing to reassess development financing policy

(From left) Amb. Colin Granderson, Assistant Secretary-General, Foreign and Community Relations, CARICOM Secretariat; His Excellency Javier Maria Carbajosa, Plenipotentiary Representative of Spain to CARICOM; and Amb. Irwin LaRocque, CARICOM Secretary-General
(From left) Amb. Colin Granderson, Assistant Secretary-General, Foreign and Community Relations, CARICOM Secretariat; His Excellency Javier Maria Carbajosa, Plenipotentiary Representative of Spain to CARICOM; and Amb. Irwin LaRocque, CARICOM Secretary-General

International Financial Institutions (IFIs) including the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) are now willing to reassess the policy of GDP per capita attached to concessionary development financing.

Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretary-General, Ambassador Irwin LaRocque, said that this was a major result of his recent discussions in Washington with the President of the World Bank and the Executive Director of the IMF.

Speaking on Tuesday, 17 October, at the accreditation ceremony of the new Ambassador of Spain to CARICOM, His Excellency Javier Carbajosa Sanchez, the Secretary-General said the Banks were willing to work with CARICOM, but they cautioned that a final decision resided with the countries which sat on the boards.

CARICOM has been lobbying consistently for a reversal of the policy of graduation which sees some Member States denied access to concessionary development financing. Their graduation to middle income status, with the use of GDP per capita as a major criterion, has attracted commercial rates for development loans. This situation increases already high debt burdens in Member States.

“That debt burden was significantly incurred by reconstruction after major climatic events in a Region designated as the most natural disaster-prone in the world,” Secretary-General LaRocque said.

See more photos of the accreditation ceremony. (more…)

All hands needed on deck for post-hurricane recovery – WB Meeting hears

Statement on High Level Meeting on Recovery and Resilience in the Caribbean

The participants highlighted the need for a response involving all partners, including regional organizations, development partners, private sector, national Governments and civil society, to leverage comparative advantages for building resilience to disasters in highly vulnerable small-island states, as extreme weather events have added to their existing economic vulnerabilities. The contribution of the private sector will also be critical, offering both resources and expertise.
Washington, October 13th, 2017– Leaders and representatives of CARICOM countries and territories, and international partners, including the international financial institutions, and the representatives of territories in the region, convened (Friday) in a high-level round table on recovery and resilience in the Caribbean hosted by the World Bank Group (WBG), as part of the WBG-IMF Annual Meetings.

During the discussion, participants examined the impact of and recovery from the destructive hurricanes that struck the Caribbean in September, reviewed the instruments available for disaster risk management and response, and considered the need to innovate further in order to address the long-term challenges and strengthen resilience of affected islands.

Participants expressed solidarity and support to the affected islands and communities, and reaffirmed their commitment to working together to build back better and in a more resilient way, following the devastation caused by hurricanes Irma and Maria. They highlighted the need to ensure active engagement of communities, especially women, in the recovery and reconstruction process, as well as the importance of putting in place building standards that will mitigate the impact of future extreme weather events. The participants also noted the importance of making progress on the World Bank’s Small States Roadmap which proposes various initiatives to promote resilience of small states. (more…)

Caribbean storms show urgency of rethinking aid for small island states

Aftermath of Hurricane Irma in Tortola, BVIs (Photo via OECS)
Aftermath of Hurricane Irma in Tortola, BVIs (Photo via OECS)

A series of devastating storms in the Caribbean has highlighted the vulnerability of small island states, where a single hurricane can undo years of development and plunge prosperous households into poverty from one day to the next.

Hurricane Irma turned 90 percent of homes on Barbuda to rubble and left financial losses of USD 100-200 million. Hurricane Maria has knocked out power to the entire US territory of Puerto Rico.

For most developed countries, a natural disaster triggers action from national governments to provide emergency relief and compensation – witness the recent emergency spending provided by the US Congress following Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. But unlocking emergency funds is not always straightforward for small island developing states, not all of which have easy access to capital markets. Small island states often have high public debt ratios and insurance coverage among households and businesses can be limited.

Grenada is still paying the consequences of being hit successively in 2004 and 2005 by Hurricanes Ivan and Emily. Estimated losses amounted to 200 percent of gross domestic product, and Grenada is still in “debt distress” according to the International Monetary Fund. The Cook Islands are still subject to austerity measures under a 1998 debt restructuring agreement prompted by the reconstruction costs that followed Cyclone Martin two decades ago.

Read more at: Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development