Caribbean leaders warned the region is facing the twin threats of climate change and COVID-19 during the Green Climate Fund’s (GCF's) Regional Dialogue with the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).
GCF Executive Director Yannick Glemarec joined Caribbean Heads of State in highlighting regional challenges posed by the combined effects of climate change, accentuated by the recent hurricane season, and economic collapse caused by the pandemic, which has eroded decades of socio-economic gains.
The Caribbean is at the forefront of the fight against climate change,” stated Glemarec. “I commend the Caribbean region’s vision for economic revitalisation in the CARICOM Economic Recovery and Transformation Plan for its pioneer work to foster such a paradigm shift,” he told the opening session of the five-day, online dialogue.
Glemarec stressed the Fund's commitment to bolster the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) within the Caribbean region, particularly with increased support for adaptation and resilience measures.
In addition, he referred to GCF’s support for Antigua and Barbuda in establishing financial and institutional mechanisms to facilitate debt for climate swaps, and its support for Jamaica to establish the first regional exchange for green bonds. He also highlighted GCF’s partnership with Jamaica and the Coalition for Climate Resilient Investment in developing new valuation methodologies that include climate risks.
Addressing the regional meeting, Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley outlined the challenges of small island states such as Barbados when faced with the impact of climate change in tandem with COVID-19.
In a warning that climate finance needs to be urgently scaled up, Mottley stated that, “if the global community does not act quickly to make up for delays in financing commitments under the Paris Agreement, climate refugees fleeing the imminent threat of sea level rise and devastation from disaster will be every country’s responsibility.”
Mottley continued: “We applaud the Green Climate Fund for its promise to allocate at least 50% of its funds to adaptation.”
Barbados has seen evidence of this commitment by the GCF, both in the size and scope of our water sector sustainability project being executed in partnership with the 5Cs, she said, referring to the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre. She also noted GCF’s “readily expressed enthusiasm of the programmatic approach to resilience we have taken to our Roofs to Reefs project.
Other regional leaders attending the first day of the Caribbean regional dialogue included Belize Prime Minister John Briceno, AOSIS Chair Antigua and Barbuda Ambasssador for Climate Change Diann Black-Layne, Caribbean Community Climate Change Center Executive Director Dr. Colin Young, and OECS Commission Director-General Dr. Didacus Jules.
Regional climate impacts in the Caribbean have intensified at the same time as COVID-19 took root. In November 2020, the record for named storms was shattered with the development of subtropical storm Theta, the 29th named storm of the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season. This followed the devastation left by a series of category 5 hurricanes which swept through the region during the past 7 years.
GCF support is intended to help Caribbean countries design climate action-focused stimulus measures that revive economies while fostering green, resilient recovery with strong socioeconomic co-benefit. These include job creation, poverty alleviation, increased food security, improved air and water quality, and more resilient infrastructure.
GCF is providing significant support for direct access entities – organisations that partner with GCF at the regional or national level.
To date, GCF is providing almost $100 million through 3 direct access entities in the Caribbean.
For example, GCF has committed $27.6 million to the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre to strengthen the resilience of the water sector to climate change in Barbados.
In partnership with the Department of Environment of Antigua and Barbuda, GCF has also invested USD 20 million to 3 SIDS in the region, including Dominica and Grenada, to strengthen community resilience through ecosystem services and climate resilient infrastructure.
The Caribbean Development Bank has also accessed GCF Project Preparatory Support to develop a project that aims to unlock private sector investment to transform the Caribbean productive sectors, energy systems and infrastructure in 3 countries (Belize, Jamaica, St. Lucia.)
GCF has approved nine climate projects in 11 CARICOM countries. GCF’s Readiness support, which enhances the capacity of national institutions to engage with GCF, covers 14 eligible CARICOM countries.
The Caribbean Regional Dialogue is focusing on developing effective public sector pipelines of funding, unlocking private sector involvement, enhancing adaptation planning and making GCF resources more accessible within the Member States of the CARICOM, home to approximately sixteen million citizens, of which one is considered a least developed country (LDC).