Chairman, let me first thank the United Nations and the CARICOM Secretariat for organising this event.
For the first time in recent history, we have witnessed two major hurricanes wreak untold damage across several Caribbean countries. These were a stark reminder that our Region, which is ranked as the second highest in terms of climate vulnerability, faces a future characterised by more intense and destructive meteorological systems.
Disaster risk management is an important aspect of financing provided by the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB). Up to the end of 2016, we had channeled US$407 million (10% of total financing) into the Region for environmental sustainability and disaster risk management projects. This is in addition to financing we have also provided for economic and social infrastructure in all of our borrowing member countries.
Consistent with our climate resilience focus, we have operationalised an integrated climate risk framework that includes the initial screening of projects and climate vulnerability assessment of those projects at greatest risk. We have also maintained a focus on strengthening the capacity of our own technical staff to ensure that climate considerations are incorporated into all of our work. Resources from the European Investment Bank through two Climate Action Lines of Credit totaling Euro170 million (in 2011 and 2017) have been instrumental in allowing CDB to undertake this work at concessional rates of interest.
We have also partnered with the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States- European Union (ACP-EU) in rolling out interventions aimed at building regional, national and local level resilience by strengthening community-based disaster risk reduction; climate change adaptation early warning systems; and national risk profiling.
Our founding shareholder and long-standing partner, the United Kingdom, has generously provided the ODA-eligible members of CDB with £300 million of grant resources to build resilient infrastructure. Dominica will be able to access these resources to assist with its reconstruction.
As we look forward to what is required to assist the countries affected by the recent hurricanes, we do so cognisant of the tremendous funding requirements for rehabilitation and reconstruction. This calls for a well-orchestrated response by the development community to maximise the impact of our assistance in the recovery process. Through partnerships, we can leverage our individual strengths to achieve even greater and more robust development impacts. And building the Region’s resilience to climate change should be the centerpiece of this co-ordinated response.
As part of the response needed for those borrowing member countries most badly affected by hurricanes Irma and Maria, CDB will draw on a combination of very concessional resources from our Special Development Fund; on highly concessional funds intermediated through CDB by other development partners, such as the European Investment Bank and the European Union; and on our Ordinary Capital Resources. The full package of assistance to these countries by CDB is preliminary, at this stage, as the recovery process is likely to be protracted. The assistance targeted is as follows:
- Antigua and Barbuda – We have discussed an assistance package of US$25 million to address recovery and rehabilitation in the education and agriculture sectors and for the reconstruction of roads and water.
- Dominica – The Government of Dominica will be reprogramming US$40 million of CDB funds for projects already approved for financing so that we can fast-track disaster rehabilitation efforts. The bulk of our support will focus on infrastructure rebuilding in the road, water and sanitation sub- sectors. A further US$20 million of grants and very soft loan financing is available from CDB’s Special Development Fund. These funds have not yet been committed and can be appropriately deployed. There is also US$25 million available to Dominica under the UK Caribbean Infrastructure Partnership Fund, a programme for which CDB is the executing agency. A total of US$85 million is to be provided through CDB.
- UK Overseas Territories – We are in ongoing discussions with the Governments of Anguilla, British Virgin Islands and the Turks and Caicos Islands as well as the UK Government to determine the exact level of support we can provide, taking into consideration the borrowing and absorptive capacity of each of these territories.
Let me end by saying that CDB pledges to work hand-in-hand with all of our development partners so that, collectively, we can make a real and lasting difference in our affected islands.