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Ambassador: Better financing needed to address climate change, pandemics

Although acknowledging the pressing need for better and faster access to climate financing for vulnerable nations, particularly those in the Caribbean and highly affected areas, Head of the European Union (EU) delegation to Barbados, the OECS and CARICOM/CARIFORUM, Ambassador Designate Malgorzata Wasilewska, said public finance will never be enough to respond to the scale of the climate and environment challenge.

She was the featured speaker of the University of the West Indies’ virtual Vice-Chancellor’s Forum on the Bridgetown Initiative, held yesterday.

While calling on all actors involved to align with the Paris Agreement, Wasilewska admitted that the multiple long- and short-term crises that have emerged in the past few years have shown that the global financial system is no longer fit for purpose, as identified by the Bridgetown Initiative.

“As it states the world needs more, better, more accessible and faster finance to address global challenges such as climate change or pandemics, to allow us to better support the most vulnerable countries. We know that not only low income countries, but middle income countries such as Barbados and other countries in the region. And today in fact, the whole world is in many cases vulnerable to the effects of climate change, although the countries in this region are possibly among the most vulnerable. Such shocks are very destabilizing and the actions needed to address them can be overwhelming for the countries affected,” she said.

“We need to focus on the people in need, not just the countries, and ensure that no one is neglected or left behind. However, the resource allocations should not come at the expense of the very much needed support to the poorest companies, and fragile or conflict-affected countries. In that sense, innovative solutions are more important than ever.”

Among other things, the Bridgetown Initiative proposes to change some of the terms around how funding from developed nations is loaned and repaid, and calls for development banks to lend $1 trillion to developing nations for climate resilience.

Prime Minister Philip Davis, since the start of his tenure, has joined with Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley in calling for greater and fairer access to climate financing for vulnerable nations like those in the Caribbean.

To this, Wasilewska said, “Caribbean heads of government agree that the Bridgetown Initiative is a viable model to support reform of the global financial system. This initiative is fast gaining recognition and significant traction globally. We welcome the objective of this initiative and recognize its potential to mobilize more and different forms of financing globally, for countries to address climate challenges more comprehensively. Many of its proposals are being discussed in the proprietary working groups for the summit on a new global financing pact organized by Macron and Prime Minister Mottley in June, and the European Commission is actively engaged in these groups and so are the member states.”