CARICOM needs very concessional financing for climate resilience – Secretary-General LaRocque

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The Caribbean Community’s goal of creating a climate resilient Region requires significant grant funding and very concessional financing, CARICOM Secretary-General Ambassador Irwin LaRocque said Monday.

Speaking at the opening ceremony of the Twenty-Ninth Inter-sessional Meeting of CARICOM Heads of Government at the Marriott Port-au-Prince Hotel in Haiti, he said “without access to such financing, already high debt levels across the Region would be exacerbated.”

He explained that most CARICOM countries were categorised as middle or high-income and were largely ineligible for concessional development financing and Official Development Assistance (ODA), due to the use of GDP per capita as the principal criterion.

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Using The Bahamas to illustrate this point, he said it was an upper middle-income country that had sustained cumulative damage and loss totalling US$678M as a result of hurricanes that hit between 2015 and 2017, which necessitated access to non-concessional financing.

In the case of CARICOM’s Associate Members, he said that their sources of finance were limited as they did not have access to international financial institutions. The British Virgin Islands, he noted, sustained damages in excess of US$1B from Hurricane Irma.

“Our Region finds itself in extraordinary circumstances which therefore require extraordinary solutions,” Ambassador LaRocque stated, adding that there was need for new thinking, leading to changes in the criteria for determining access to concessionary financing by small, vulnerable, middle income countries.

“We began the task of attracting resources with the CARICOM-UN High-Level Pledging Conference, held in New York last November.  Some of the pledges have been honoured and we continue to collaborate with our partners to realise the other commitments,” he said.

Secretary-General LaRocque said CARICOM was unable to generate, on its own, the cost of rebuilding which had been assessed at more than US$5B. He noted that even as recovery and reconstruction were ongoing, the Region was also preparing for the next hurricane season which was five months away.

“The reality is that the intensity and frequency of severe climatic events, whether it be hurricanes, droughts or unseasonal heavy rainfall are our new normal.  We all must be prepared,” he said.

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