Mia Mottley critical of international community as the region discusses climate…

first_imgBRIDGETOWN, Barbados, CMC – A weeklong conference discussing priorities and solutions to tackle climate and disaster risks began here on Monday amid calls for a new paradigm towards development and concerns that the region continues to be marginalized in its efforts to become climate resilient.More than 500 delegates from 20 Caribbean countries are attending the Understanding Risk (UR) Caribbean Conference that is organized by the World Bank in partnership with the Barbados government, the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) and the European Union (EU).The prime minister of Barbados Mia Mottley told the delegates that while there was need for the Caribbean countries to establish a sinking capital fund to meet some of its developmental needs “the lumpy nature of the investment is such that we have in my view to make serious decisions as nation first and foremost to protect the fund by embedding it in our constitution… “But secondly we may have within the limited capacity of what you can earn within a small economy…to protect and to preserve areas that will guarantee a level of revenue in order to be able to ensure that we can replace the critical infrastructure when needed”.She said for example, everyone is interested in renewable energy but that it represents more than anything else “the patrimony of the particular region.“And if we therefore are to ensure and guarantee our own survival it is my humble view that we may need to, particularly where we have public water infrastructural firms to preserve a portion of the market for our water authority’s to work in order to be able to help fund that sinking fund that is dedicated to capital infrastructure so that there is no but or ifs as to how we can meet the target with respect to the replacement of the mains as we go forward,” she said, noting that in the case of Barbados, a significant amount of cash is needed to undertake the exercise of replacing an aging water distribution system.But Mottley said that while Caribbean countries had in the past undertaken several policies to ensure their socio-economic development it was now critical ‘to engage those who have placed us on the front line of this battle” of climate change and resilience.She said that for more than 25 years “we have literally tried to sustain an argument against a one size fit all prescription and that recognizes that the inability to distort global trade in goods and services ought to matter because there is a disproportionate consequence to enterprises within our region who in many instances were forced to either shut down production or to become marginalized because the removal of non-tariff barrier…as a result of our becoming signatory to the World Trade Organization (WTO).”Change needed Mottley said if the images of people responding to the destruction caused by hurricanes and earthquakes in the Caribbean are to mean something there must therefore be the change to” the continued belief that countries can be graduated on the basis of middle income status, purely on GDP (gross domestic product) and precluded from access to critical funding to be able to modernize their infrastructure”.She said in the face of inherent vulnerability, the issue now has to become “a historic topic rather than a fight we are continuing to wage on a daily basis”.She said there is also a need to recognize that “we need 1.5 to survive, a reference to the region’s climate change call for “1.5 to Survive” global warming.“Ask yourself on what basis can there be a sustainable platform for international cooperation and development if the very right to life and the very right to the sustainable nature to sustaining our societies is not accepted as a pre-requisite for action,’ she asked the conference.Funding programs to be launched During the week-long conference, three regional programs supporting Caribbean countries to plan for long-term resilience and climate-smart growth strategies will be launched, including the Caribbean Regional Resilience Building Facility and the Technical Assistance Program for Disaster Risk Financing and Insurance in Caribbean Overseas Countries and Territories financed by the European Union, as well as the Canada Caribbean Resilience Facility financed by the Government of Canada. The EU funded US$31 million Caribbean Regional Resilience Building Facility will support 15 Caribbean countries by providing technical assistance to mainstream resilience, leveraging investments to reduce vulnerability, and expanding financial protection against disasters.The second EU funded program provides US$3.4 million to support Caribbean Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs) in assessing their financial exposure to disasters, the feasibility of participating in insurance mechanisms, and to share knowledge among OCTs.The US$15.2 million “Canada Caribbean Resilience Facility (CRF)” will boost capacity in nine Caribbean countries to achieve more effective and coordinated disaster preparedness, recovery and resilience building, and public financial management practices. The facility will be managed by the World Bank’s Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR).last_img