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Daily CSR

Daily CSR
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Will France rejoin the CDB and help the Caribbean have access climate finances


With the Caribbean Islands having to bear the full frontal assaults of global warming and climate change two members of the Caribbean are requesting in earnest that France rejoin the Caribbean Development Bank and help it access climate funds so that these tiny island nations can survive and weather the threats of global warming and climate change.

With the upcoming United Nation’s led conference on Climate Change scheduled in November this year, at least two leaders from the Caribbean are hoping France will demonstratively assists their adaptation efforts by collaborating and re-joining with the Barbados-based, Caribbean Development Bank (CDB).

Establish in 1969, the CDB is a Caribbean power house in all matters of finance. It has significantly contributed to the harmonious economic development and growth of the Caribbean islands, which in turn has promoting not only economic cooperation but also continuous integration amongst regional nations.

“The government of France has been taking a lead in relation to this matter in all fora and [President] Hollande has put his own personal prestige behind it," said Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves.

With the Caribbean being one of the worst affected areas by Climate Change, it is struggling for its very survival for it needs monetary resources so that it can quickly learn to adapt and ease the burdens of global warming and climate change and the horde of problems that these twins bring along with them. So as to ease their burden, these two leaders from the Caribbean would like France to rejoin the CDB.

Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis Dr. Timothy Harris, who is chair of the CDB’s Board of Governors, the bank’s highest policy making body, told the two-day 45th meeting of the board, which began on May 20, how Gonsalves raised the issue with his French counterpart.

“Caught by Gonsalves flighted googly, the president played just as Gonsalves had predicted and committed to have France returned as a member of the CDB,” said Harris using an analogy from the Caribbean’s rich cricketing cultural background. He went on to add that building resilience to climate change and to natural disasters, in the Caribbean, are issues that “need critical attention in the context of reshaping a credible agenda for Caribbean development”. 

He felt that it would be a “a significant win-win for us all” if France were to rejoin the CDB. 

He went on to say, “It think it will enhance France’s own involvement in the region but beyond the region as a major country interested in bringing justice to small island developing states, many of which are found in the Caribbean region. Therefore, its coming back again will signal that it has renewed its confidence in the bank. Given France’s own standing as a member of the G20, that will be a positive in terms of the reputation for the CDB. And, therefore, when the bank wins, the people of the Caribbean, whom it serves, they also win and also all of us in the region.”

Being an economist, Harris said the Paris talks will “only bear fruits for us if in fact it makes special provisions for the vulnerabilities of small island developing states.”

“… if a member of the G20 group such as France provide leadership in Europe and beyond, certainly it would be a good signal of that commitment for him to reinter into the CDB as a member.” 

Mr. Harris stressed that as long as he the Chairman of the CDB, climate change will be high on his agenda. “It has already been identified by the president of the bank as one of the areas in which the bank wants to have a forward thrust,” he clarified.

On his part, CDB’s president Dr. William Warren Smith stressed that the Caribbean has already begun experiencing “the damaging effects and associated economic losses of rising sea levels and an increase in the number and severity of natural hazards” arising out of climate change and global warming. In order to effectively participate, manage and adapt to climate change, the vast renewable energy resources in the Caribbean must be put to greater use. To this end, the CDB must be able to access climate finance from the various windows emerging worldwide.

While addressing the board of governors, Smith said that climate financing institutions have “understandably set the access bar extremely high”. To this end, he stressed, that the CDB has undergone reforms that will position it to gain wider access to climate resources.

“I am pleased to say that by the end of this year, we expect to be accredited to both the Adaptation Fund and the Green Climate Fund,” he said. He further chipped in saying that he has already proposed a “Project Preparation Facility” for Caribbean countries during a recent meeting of Caribbean foreign ministers in Berlin. Through it, the CDB will be able to allow its member countries to borrow monies for “bankable” projects that are eligible for climate financing.

“These projects would climate-proof roads and other critical infrastructure. They would also address the vulnerability of our islands and coastal zones in order to protect vital industries, such as tourism, agriculture and fisheries,” said Smith.

Gonsalves added saying “there are several consequences, all of them positive, for France coming back to the CDB.”  Currently Germany holds a 5.73% stake in the CDB, making it the third largest non-regional, non-borrowing member.  

As per Gonsalves, “In relation to climate change particularly, given the agenda that the CDB has in terms of its strategic plan, and that’s a focal issue, France will bring its immense support resources and its intellectual clout and its political clout as an interlocutor for the Caribbean for the CDB, for developing countries in relation to climate change.” 

“More broadly, France, of course, as the host for the Paris Summit and what was promised at Fort-de-France as the steps we will take, they again are going to play an important role and to do some things conjoining with us,” noted Gonsalves adding that the Caribbean will attend climate change related summits in Brussels, Addis Ababa, and at the United Nations ahead of the Paris Summit.

Gonsalves says that France will rejoin the CDB as, “… the manner in which I put it, it was very difficult for him to say no.”