21 November 2017: Caribbean countries need a “new and better deal” that includes access to concessional finance and adequate insurance if they are to build climate resilience, according to UN Secretary-General António Guterres, in a statement at the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) High‑Level Donor Pledging Conference. The Conference aimed to mobilize support for the reconstruction of communities devastated by recent hurricanes.
The Conference convened on 21 November 2017, in New York, US, and was co-organized by the UN and CARICOM. In the course of the Conference, over US$2 billion was pledged, half in loans and debt relief, to support long-term recovery in hurricane-affected areas in the Caribbean.
Guterres said that, in the past 30 years, the number of annual climate-related disasters has nearly tripled, and economic losses have quintupled. He urged international financial institutions and donors to coordinate risk sharing and concessional lending terms. In order to improve resilience and livelihoods and to achieve the SDGs, Caribbean countries require a new generation of risk-informed infrastructure, he said. However, Guterres noted that financing remains a challenge given that many of these countries have limited access to concessional finance due to their classification as middle-income countries (MICs) and their high debt levels from investment in recovery and resilience.
In his address, UN General Assembly (UNGA) President Miroslav Lajčák said the international community should: support rebuilding through funding and technical assistance, including for housing, telecommunications, and water and sanitation; rebuild with greater resilience, or “build back better”; and recognize that small island developing States (SIDS) are particularly vulnerable to climate change, natural disasters and external shocks, and face inadequate access to grant and concessional funding because of how their development is measured. He commended CARICOM’s goal of becoming the first climate-resilient region in the world, and said that the region’s people should not be “punished once by nature and twice by outdated economic policies.”
In her address, UN Deputy Secretary‑General Amina Mohammed called for “creative” ways to extend concessional resources to Caribbean countries on an exceptional basis, including by examining how vulnerability can be used to help determine eligibility for concessional finance. She also emphasized the need for long‑term concessionary financing facilities, calling attention to the InsuResilience initiative, a new global partnership that aims to provide affordable insurance coverage to 400 million more poor and vulnerable people by 2020. Mohammed also called for debt relief, noting that some Caribbean countries have debt levels averaging 84% of gross domestic product (GDP), in part due to debt raised to address the impacts of earlier natural disasters. She also stressed partnerships, particularly with the private sector, and the need to implement and scale‑up finance innovations that could be useful for the Caribbean, as well as other SIDS