Archive | Climate/Weather

Bonn con

Dominica PM goes to COP 23 with a shopping list

BONN, Germany, Nov 16, CMC – Dominica’s Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit Thursday came to the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP23) with a shopping list of more than US$200 million as he reminded the international community of the disaster brought upon his country by Hurricane Maria on September 18 this year.

“Hurricane Maria was reported to be one of the most rapidly intensifying storms in recent history. Our citizens barely had time to prepare before the ferocious winds and incessant rain began assaulting our nature island,” Skerrit told the COP23 that ends here on Friday.

Bonn conThe conference is discussing the implementation of the Paris Agreement, the accord within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) dealing with greenhouse gas emissions mitigation, adaptation and finance starting in the year 2020.

The language of the agreement was negotiated by representatives of 196 parties at the 21st Conference of the Parties of the UNFCCC in Paris and adopted by consensus on 12 December 2015

Skerrit told the conference that the Category 5 storm left, according to the assessments conducted by the World Bank Group and other international agencies, 90 per cent of buildings either damaged or destroyed, over 22 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) wiped out with major damage sustained to agriculture, tourism and housing sectors.

He said public infrastructure was severely impacted and forests decimated.

“Two months later 95 per cent of the country remains without electricity, our water systems are compromised, and many citizens remain displaced and in shelters. This, ladies and gentlemen, is the reality of climate change. Within a few hours an entire country was brought to its knees by the forces of nature.

“Two years ago we convened in a similar setting and signed on to the Paris accord. We pledged as an international community to take positive proactive steps to stem the tide of climate change. The developed world pledged funds to be made available for the mitigation and adaptation of the harmful effects of climate change.”

Skerrit said that Dominica knows the potential impact of climate change and of countries that may disappear.

“How many of the countries that continue to pollute the planet had to suffer a loss of two hundred and twenty four percent of their GDP this year?  Distinguished ladies and gentlemen I present to you today that our countries remain under threat.

“To ensure our very existence the world must do better. We argued at COP 21 for 1 degrees to stay alive – a commitment was made to two degrees but by all assessments we will not even achieve that goal.”

But he told the conference not enough is being done to ensure that the world effectively mitigate the warming of the planet

“How many of our vulnerable small island developing states have been able to access green climate funds to make us more climate resilient? What mechanism is there for us to be able to access emergency funds when facing a disaster like that caused by Maria?

“We have been put on the front line by others. We were the guardians of nature. We have not contributed to global warming. Sixty percent of Dominica is covered by protected rain forests and has been so long before climate change.

“Our marine environment is similarly protected. We are on the front line and this is not a metaphorical war, or a metaphorical line,” he said, adding “it is one in which we bury the dead, console the grieving, nurse our wounds and call out for reinforcements.”

Skerrit said that SIDS were growing weary waiting for the world to hear their cries.

“We hear that now is the time to act. We read headlines of funds set aside. We smell the sweet fragrance of agreements, promises and commitments. But we grow weary waiting. Ladies and gentlemen, despite the hardship we face we have decided to raise our standard.

“We have publicly committed to the international community that we will rebuild ourselves as the first fully climate resilient nation in the Anthropocene. Our small island will shine the torch for others to follow. But, we grow weary.”

The Dominica Prime Minister said that the international community has an opportunity now to truly demonstrate its commitment to battling the effects of climate change, saying “we need you to partner with us to build a truly climate resilient nation a nation adapted to the new reality of fiercer, more frequent and more ferocious storms”.

Skerrit said that Wednesday night’s high level event provided the platform where a selection of non-party stake holders championed the critical message of accelerated climate action and how best to bridge the gap between non-party actors and negotiations.

“We call on all stakeholders to help us to rebuild better and smarter.  Maria that winged messenger of climate change destroyed thousands of homes. US$200 million is required to rebuild in more suitable locations and to a standard that makes them climate resilient. We call on stakeholders to partner with us to rebuild. Maria destroyed our education and health sectors.”

Skerrit said that the World Bank Report supports that US$90 million is needed to rebuild and make schools, hospitals and clinics climate resilient in Dominica.

“We call on the global community to partner with us to help us take on that challenge. Maria ripped apart our water pipes. We need US$56 million to get running water again. US$37 million is needed to establish an entire system of climate resilient agriculture irrigation and food production

“Dominica needs US$15 million to complete an investment in geothermal that would provide a significant boost to its renewable energy sector. We are determined to restore our rainforests and protect our blue horizons. We have grasped the moment to be the change we want in this world.”

Sketrrit told the conference that this isn’t a rash promise, saying “it is what we are struggling to do today.

“But battered as we are we stand before you today awake and tall to the challenge. We call for your assistance, support and partnership. We ask you to not allow climate change to be reduced to a cultural war fought from armchairs.

“We ask you not to allow the sceptics to sneer saying ‘I told you COP was all hot air’ and that ‘nothing real will change’. I urge you today not to betray the Paris Agreement! Operationalise Paris. Give meaning to Paris.Now. Not on paper, but here in this forum! Stand with us. Pledge today to help fund the first climate resilient nation,” Skerrit said.

CMC/ad/ir/2017

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MARIA 5

How to build back better after a hurricane with the next one a few months away

By Irwin LaRocque and Achim Steiner*

GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Nov 17, CMC – Imagine relocating the entire population of your country in the face of a colossal hurricane and two months later still not being able to get back home. Now imagine spending several nights in a shelter and taking a stroll the next morning only to find what you used to call community, city or country reduced to an apocalyptic scene.

MARIA 5
Hurricane damage in Dominica (CMC Photo)

This is no fiction. Irma and Maria, two back-to-back Category 5 hurricanes, the most powerful ever recorded in the Atlantic, swept across the Caribbean in September, cutting a swathe of destruction, taking lives, devastating infrastructure and severely damaging the economies of small climate-vulnerable countries.

Entire islands were decimated, like Barbuda, the smaller of the two-island state of Antigua and Barbuda, and Dominica, both members of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM). Anguilla and the British Virgin Islands were also devastated while The Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands were severely affected. Haiti and St Kitts and Nevis also suffered damage. All of the islands are members or Associate Members of CARICOM.

The island of St Marten, divided between Sint Maarten, a constituent country of the Kingdom of Netherlands and St Martin, a dependency of France as well as Cuba and the Dominican Republic were impacted, in addition to Puerto Rico and Florida, in the United States.

The principal economic sectors of tourism and agriculture have been very significantly affected, the resulting loss of jobs compounding the anguish of the loss of homes. In-depth damage assessments in Barbuda and Dominica are still on going, but initial estimates indicate recovery costs could be more than three billion US dollars.

These hurricanes were a game changer. Not even in the Caribbean, which is the most natural disaster-prone Region in the world, had anything like this been experienced before. The occurrence of successive Category 5 hurricanes signals a dangerous change in the intensity and frequency of climate-related storms, and heralds the advent of a new normal.

The number of severe hurricanes is projected to increase by 40 percent, if global temperatures rise by 2°C and up to 80 percent should they rise by 4°, according to a World Bank report entitled “Turn down the Heat”. With the resulting sea-level rise, this will have devastating effects on all Small Island Developing States (SIDS), but particularly those in the Caribbean, this study confirms.

Since the hurricanes hit, the governments of Antigua and Barbuda and the Dominica along with the Barbados-based Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) have been working on the ground hand-in-hand with UN teams, co-led by the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) with an urgent task.

Also on the front line have been other CARICOM member states and specialised Institutions, France and its departments in the Caribbean, Venezuela, the United Kingdom, the United States and the International Committee of the Red Cross. Women and men are working around the clock to build back better. They need more resilient communities that are ready to cope with the next hurricane season only seven months ahead.

But rebuilding from the increased frequency and intensity of natural disasters will be impossible without international support, particularly considering the overwhelming climate-vulnerability and crippling debt burdens of these vulnerable SIDS.

The needs are urgent. But there are three crucial opportunities at hand. First, the Conference of The Parties (COP23) in Bonn, Germany, 6-17 November, is a vital moment for the world to come together and act on climate change.

Then, on 21 November at the UN headquarters in New York a UN-CARICOM pledging conference provides the opportunity for the world to support affected Caribbean countries as they build back better, especially considering that they have been bearing the brunt of climate change without having contributed to the problem.

Finally, now, more than ever, it is fundamental that the international community rethinks traditional criteria for concessional development financing based primarily on GDP per capita. These affected nations are being denied full access to such financing based on being ranked as Middle Income countries.

The criteria must take into account the economic and environmental vulnerability of SIDS.

Now is the time to act. If Caribbean countries are to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030 they need urgent accessing to financing—including for climate change adaptation. In view of such urgent needs, UNDP’s Caribbean Human Development Report “Multidimensional Progress: human resilience beyond income”, launched a year ago, called for improved standards that take into account multiple indicators, or well-being measurements beyond income alone.

If the world has vowed to eradicate poverty by 2030 it is crucial to invest in boosting communities’, countries’ and entire regions’ resilience in the social, economic and environmental fronts.

Building back better is an essential part of this effort. We invite the world to support the Caribbean countries through global action on climate and during the CARICOM-UN High Level Pledging Conference: Building a More Climate-Resilient Community. We must all act now, before it’s too late.

*Irwin LaRocque is the Secretary-General of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM)

*Achim Steiner is UN Development Programme (UNDP) Administrator

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IMF Andrew

IMF pledges support for Caribbean

KINGSTON, Jamaica, Nov 16, CMC – The International Monetary Fund (IMF) Thursday pledged its support for the Caribbean as the region moves to build resilience against the effects of natural disasters.

IMF managing director, Christine Lagarde, addressing the sixth IMF High level Caribbean forum, said the Washington-based financial institution is prepared to support the Caribbean with recovery funding and is cognisant of the impact of natural disasters on economic development and stability in the Caribbean.

IMF Andrew
Jamaica’s Prime Minuster Andrew Holness in discussions
with IMF managing director, Christine Lagarde

She told the forum, which is being held under the theme ‘Unleashing Growth and Strengthening Resilience in the Caribbean’, that the IMF is ready to provide leadership with sourcing special funding and expertise to assist the region in developing mitigation and resilience strategies over the short and long term.

She said Hurricanes Irma and Maria that passed through the Lesser Antilles in September causing widespread destruction and killing several people “have again highlighted the special vulnerabilities of the Caribbean, and the need to strengthen its resilience.

“Climate change is expected to intensify the impact of natural disasters, and worsen the vulnerabilities of small states in the Caribbean. Rising sea levels increase risks of erosion and flooding, and warmer water temperatures heighten the potential for more intense hurricanes,” she told the forum that is being attended by several regional prime ministers, central bank governors and other stakeholders.

“We must come together to address the challenge posed by climate change, and help those most affected by it. Emergency relief following events like Hurricanes Irma and Maria is a key responsibility of the global community.”

Lagarde said that the IMF stands ready to do whatever it can to help in these situations, in assessing macroeconomic implications, determining financing needs, and providing financial support that would also help catalyze broader financing from the rest of the international community.

“Beyond these efforts, I propose convening an event with all the major public and private stakeholders to explore options for building resilience in the region, including risk mitigation, debt management strategies, and use of catastrophe bonds. This effort is not about a short-term response, but about building defenses to events that will reoccur again.

“In this effort, we will work in close collaboration with our Caribbean partners and the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank, the Caribbean Development Bank, and other development partners.”

She said that the forum, which focuses on issues impacting the region and the potential opportunities within the context of an ever-changing global landscape, is an important platform for brainstorming and collaborating with key stakeholders on the challenges facing the region and the possible solutions to address them.

The IMF has just published a book by the same title as the theme of the forum and the IMF managing director said it which explores some of the ideas to be raised.

“This year’s Forum is also about hearing your views on how we can work together to deepen Caribbean growth, insulate it more from shocks, and make it more resilient. We all want this region to create more jobs and growth for the benefits of its current and future generations.

The IMF official said stronger economic growth is the essential foundation for a more resilient Caribbean and it is also a foundation for building defenses.

“Unfortunately, economic growth in the Caribbean has been low for several decades. This has led to rising social and economic challenges, including poverty, inequality, unemployment, and crime. While many authorities in the Caribbean were successful in their efforts to create a stable macroeconomic environment, growth still remains elusive.”

Lagarde said there is no one explanation for this disappointing growth performance. Caribbean economies have been hit by external shocks, such as natural disasters which affected agriculture in particular and loss of international trade preferences.

She said at the same time, they have not been able to fully insulate themselves from such shocks because of large macroeconomic imbalances. Growth has also been affected by structural impediments.

“A few come to mind: The region’s high cost of electricity, limited access to credit for households and medium and small enterprises, high rates of violent crime, and a persistent outflow of highly-skilled workers, the brain drain.

“So what can we do moving forward? That is what brings us together…This conference has been organized to discuss these issues. The IMF is not a specialist on these topics, and this conference will afford us an opportunity to learn.”

She said that the agenda covers three specific issues that are key to higher growth, namely crime and youth unemployment; fiscal policy and political cycles; and stability and growth trade-offs in the financial sector.

The IMF official said that crime and youth unemployment in the Caribbean is among the highest in the world. Crime, partly fuelled by this high rate of joblessness, a major obstacle to growth in the Caribbean.

She said crime imposes several economic costs, including public spending on security and the criminal justice system; private spending on security; and social costs from the loss of income due to victimization and incarceration.

In a recent study, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) found that, on average, crime in the Caribbean costs nearly four per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) annually, more than in most Latin American countries.

“So we need to create a virtuous cycle, where strong growth would reduce high unemployment and in particular high youth unemployment and crime which, in turn, would contribute to boosting productivity and growth, without which investors are reluctant to invest. “

But Lagrade said this “can only take us so far” and that politics and electoral cycles can have a strong impact on fiscal policies and economic outcomes, a phenomenon that has been observed around the world, and has also played a major role in shaping economic developments in the Caribbean.

She said too often, promising reforms have been cut short by policy reversals driven by political pressures, not in all cases, but in many instances.

“We need strong institutions and fiscal frameworks that can help safeguard and sustain prudent fiscal policy over time.

“For example, well-designed fiscal rules can help guide consolidation efforts. Indeed, such a rule targeting a reduction in public debt to 60 percent of GDP over the medium term has been introduced in several countries in the region—the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union—and has had success in putting public debt on a clear downward path in St. Kitts and Nevis, Grenada, and Jamaica.”

Lagarde said that the experience of these countries, which in the main has been very successful, provides a good example for other countries in the region.

She said fiscal councils are also increasingly recognized as tools to promote sound fiscal policies by providing independent information and analysis, and by monitoring compliance with fiscal rules.

She said Jamaica’s Economic Program Oversight Committee (EPOC) provides a good example.

“From 2013 onwards, this public-private sector committee has played a central role in monitoring Jamaica’s economic reform program and building support for it. While some had doubts whether the government’s program would work, through the authorities efforts including building support, the program succeeded.”

In her address the IMF managing director said that there is need to consider the connection between financial stability and growth.

“We know that a well-functioning and healthy financial sector should strike a balance between risk-taking, growth, and stability. But we also know that the financial sectors in the Caribbean have historically either taken on too much or too little risk.”

She said in countries with high public debt, banks have grown dependent on government paper, and have crowded out private sector credit.

In other countries, at times, banks have engaged in excessively risky lending, leading to struggles with nonperforming loans.

“What is the right balance? That will be the focus of a part of our conversation today. The distinguished panel has also been asked to examine policies to address constraints on financial sector inclusion and deepening—and I am very much looking forward to hearing its views,” she told the ceremony.

She said when it comes to banking, there is another challenge that needs to be looked at, noting that both Caribbean and other economies around the world have had to contend with the loss of correspondent banking relationships (CBRs), also known as de-risking.

The IMF, Lagarde said, has facilitated an international dialogue on this issue, aimed at fostering a shared understanding of the problem, and to help develop policy responses that are tailored to specific challenges faced by Caribbean economies.

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devexlogo_

UK proposal on aid for overseas territories withdrawn at DAC, but sparks debate

 
By Molly Anders, Sophie Edwards 01 November 2017
 
View of damage caused on by Hurricane Irma in Road Town, the capital of the
British Virgin Islands.  Photo by: Ministry of Defence / CC BY
 

PARIS — The United Kingdom was forced to withdraw its last-minute proposal on changes to the aid rules that would have allowed for spending on wealthier but climate-vulnerable island states after failing to secure a consensus at the Development Assistance Committee’s high-level meeting in the French capital this week.However, sources say the proposal sparked a key debate over ODA eligibility and “reclassification” of countries after a crisis during the meeting at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s headquarters in Paris.

The DAC sets the rules on ODA spending for the 30 richest donor countries, and gathers every two years for a high-level meeting, which took place on Monday and Tuesday this week.

At the start of the meeting on Monday morning, the U.K. Secretary of State for International Development Priti Patel proposed a change to the aid rules that was not on the official agenda: a “three year waiver” for rich countries struck by disasters to temporarily qualify for ODA.

The proposal came after the U.K. government was criticized for its response to Hurricane Irma in the Caribbean. Several of the country’s overseas territories — including the British Virgin Islands and Anguilla — were badly damaged by the storm, but the U.K. was not able to draw on its aid budget for the recovery because the islands are too wealthy to qualify under the current rules.

Sources present at the high-level meeting told Devex the U.K. withdrew the proposal later in the day, after it “became clear there wasn’t consensus,” according to Winnie Byanyima, executive director of Oxfam International. Changes to the aid rules must be agreed unanimously by the committee.

However on Tuesday, U.K. minister of international development Lord Michael Bates — apparently unaware of the government’s withdrawal the previous day — told the International Development Committee in the U.K. House of Commons that the proposal was still in play at the DAC meetings. He said the secretary of state was “making the case as we speak.”

Controversial proposal

Byanyima, who sat in on the DAC meetings, told Devex: “The British government wanted to count the money to spend in its own territories; I think that is really absurd. I must put it that way.”

“This is now diverting money that should go to the poorest countries — people living in crisis in Africa [for example], people on the verge of famine like in Somalia and Nigeria — and to give it to your rich islands when you have other money to use to solve the problems of your territories? For me that’s taking from the poor to give to the rich and it’s not right,” she said.

The U.K. government was criticized in the media and by politicians from the opposition Labour Party for being too slow to respond after Hurricane Irma ripped through the Caribbean in September. The Times newspaper’s diplomatic correspondent Catherine Philp told the IDC that reporters had received complaints from people in the area who said they felt angry and neglected after seeing neighboring islands receive faster assistance from the French and Dutch governments.

The IDC also heard from representatives of the territories who spoke of huge losses. Blondel Cluff, Anguilla’s representative to the U.K. and EU, said nearly all of the country’s key infrastructure was annihilated, including its schools, by the storm. Cluff said that U.K. assistance arrived within a day but that historically the country has been neglected.

“We are the Cinderella of the overseas territories … we have been overlooked time and again and this is because we have not been commercially attractive,” she said.

Reigniting debate

While the U.K.’s proposal to make an exception for its crises-struck territories was withdrawn, Byanyima and DAC chair Charlotte Petri Gornitzka said the proposal reignited a debate that had fallen on the backburner over how to account for wealthier countries that fall out of the rich-country category after a crisis.

According to the current rules, countries’ GNI must fall below a certain level to qualify for aid, but no mechanism currently exists for countries that graduate from ODA eligibility and then, due to unforeseen crises, fall back into it.

At the meetings, Byanyima said she “could sympathize with the issue of states falling back” into ODA eligibility due to humanitarian crises, such as war or natural disasters.

“Development isn’t so linear, a country can progress and can regress, I know this for sure. My own country, Uganda, went through a brutal dictatorship and civil war, went into negative growth and slid back, our economy shrunk — so it can happen. It’s not common but it can happen, so it would be good to have a process to tackle that,” she told Devex.

Petri Gornitzka told Devex that the U.K.’s proposal helped revive the important debate around ODA eligibility and “reclassification.”

“During the meeting we have been discussing what happens when you graduate and something [like a natural disaster] hits, what happens to small islands? And when you discuss this you realize this can happen not only to small islands, so the issue of crisis that can hit even rich countries and middle-income countries has been discussed. In the DAC that means that yes, the U.K. proposal was one trigger, but also the discussion on graduation,” she said.

Petri Gornitzka said the DAC has committed, in part due to the U.K.’s failed proposal, to “continue to collect data and analysis about what happens when you graduate on one hand, and examine this more immediate issue of crises.”

More research needed

The DAC communique that came out of the high-level meeting states: “We will review and reflect on the evidence base that documents the consequences of different graduation processes on access to development finance from all sources, and will continue to conduct policy analysis on the patterns of cooperation, including financing, channels, and objectives in countries in transition, in coordination with other relevant actors.”

Still, it is unclear whether future change to the rules would impact the eligibility of the British overseas territories. Richard Montgomery, director of the Asia, Caribbean, and overseas territories division at the U.K. Department for International Development, said that even another hurricane would be unlikely to render the islands in question poor enough to meet the ODA threshold.

“I think given the size of the economy and the GDP estimates that we have, it’s actually quite unlikely these hurricanes would shock them back to a level of GDP which is below the ODA threshold,” Montgomery told the IDC on Tuesday, adding that Anguilla might be the nearest to the line.

However, the DAC did also express an interest in possibly reconsidering the GDP-bound criteria for aid eligibility. The communique issued Tuesday night acknowledges the current debate around “new measures and metrics of development progress beyond per capita income,” suggesting the fundamental income-based metric for aid eligibility might up for discussion in the future.

Update, Nov. 2: This article was amended to clarify that the DAC sets the rules on ODA spending for the 30 richest donor countries, and that British Overseas Territories including including the British Virgin Islands and Anguilla were affected by Hurricane Irma

Read more international development news online, and subscribe to The Development Newswire to receive the latest from the world’s leading donors and decision-makers — emailed to you free every business day.

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Dominica PM addressingindpendence

Dominica celebrates 39 years of political independence from Britain

ROSEAU, Dominica, Nov 3, CMC – Hurricane battered Dominica is celebrating 39 years of political independence from Britain on Friday with Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit urging citizens not to be daunted by the tasking of rebuilding the island.

Hurricane Marie hit Dominica on September 18 as a Category 5 storm, killing at least 28 people and leaving billions of dollars in damage.

Unlike previous years when nationals were honoured for their contribution to the socio-economic development of the island, this year’s national awards ceremony has been postponed to next year.

Dominica PM addressingindpendence
Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit delivering national
address at Independence Rally

In his address to the nation marking the independence celebrations, Skerrit said that the Dominica ‘is still standing” despite facing the “fiercest floods, the most ferocious winds.

“We are sorrow-stricken; we swallow hard, but it still catches in our throat; and we are still standing! Difficulties envelope every aspect of life, uncertainties swirl; and we are still standing! The outside world wondered aloud whether this is the kind of devastation from which you don’t recover. We are still standing.

“We, the children of Dominica, have shown the world that disaster is finite; but, hope is infinite! Maria stole everything money can buy, everything you can put a price on; but left what you cannot but… that which is priceless! We will determine the value of those things through our actions in coming days and weeks. A moment comes, but rarely in history, when a nation’s soul is revealed”

He told the Independence Day rally at the Windsor Park Stadium attended by thousands of people that how the island responds to the storm “will define us, will make us; will become us.

“In this solemn moment, let us all, Dominicans who reside here or abroad, let us chose today to renew our pledge to the service of Dominica, her people and to all humanity. Let us together renew our pledge to fight poverty and ignorance; build a prosperous, progressive nation; and to invest in institutions that safeguard justice and opportunity for all.

“Our nation’s doubters will say what is the point of such a small country having such high ambition at such a low time like this? We say that the measure of the greatness of a nation is not its size or what it aims for in comfort, but what it strives for in crisis.”

Skerrit said that the day following the hurricane he witnessed “total destruction” adding “I saw corrugated iron mangled and tossed aside, with everything else as if we had been ransacked by a giant burglar.

“I sensed uncertainty spiralling. I smelled fear. I also breathed in the deep indefatigable determination of the vast majority of our people to carry on and stand up. When faced with grave danger humans have evolved an instinct to fight or flee. We chose to fight! We chose to rise”.

He said he is confident that people who would have fled the island after the storm as they did in 1979 when Dominica was hit by Hurricane David, would soon return.

“Sometimes it takes a crisis to remind everyone of the importance of our journey. Remember, you only see the stars clearly at the darkest hour. Ladies and Gentlemen, on this our Independence Day, Dominica stands forth on the edge of a great triumph to come, on the edge of a triumph not just for Dominica but for the world.

“The disaster visited upon us has shown in so many ways how we are not an island onto ourselves. We are not an isolated fragment of humanity floating in the Caribbean Sea. Humanity is tightly knit. The industrialisation of others warmed the seas and brought hell and fury down upon us but we will not be helpless victims of this world”

Skerrit said humanity’s development has shaped Dominica and the island’s response must help to shape humanity’s course.

“It will be a measure of the maturity of our independence of its meaningfulness if we are brave enough and wise enough to accept that the challenge of our time is global warming and climate change. We must therefore grasp the opportunity to make a difference to the world to shine a light onto the right path for our planet.

“We do not lightly choose to rebuild better or to build the first climate resilient nation in the Anthropocene. The message has found us. We understand the task. We shall rebuild so as to bring a new hope into being for humanity. We must. We will. Our tryst with humanity’s destiny is not a chance thing.”

But he also acknowledged that the task before the island is “formidable,” adding “we have lost an estimated 200 per cent of our GDP (gross domestic product) and our goal is to rebuild better not just to replace what was lost.

“We must use the opportunity to move quickly to 100 per cent resilient and renewable energy. We must rebuild almost all of our schools and clinics in a smart, climate resilient way. We must build new roads bridges and put in place slope interventions. We must coordinate our rebuilding so that our cables run underground alongside this new infrastructure.”

Skerrit outlined new plans for the re-development of the island saying there are moves to establish the Climate Resilient Economic Agency of Dominica, (CREAD) to support the rapid implementation of the plans once they are funded.

He said following his visit to the United States, London and Brussels over the last few weeks over 50 per cent of the funding needed to rebuild the island had been forthcoming and that “we will be presenting our plans to a partners conference in New York later in the month to help raise part of the rest. We will support the private sector as it rebuilds and restores.

“We will facilitate insurance pay-outs the importation of rebuilding materials the forbearance of lenders and clamp down on price gouging.  For the balance of the resources we are pursuing innovative financial instruments that link the restoration of the rain forests and protection of our marine environment to new resources for rebuilding.

“It will require careful, thoughtful, strategic planning carried out at lightning speed, because we do not have the luxury of time. It will take unity of purpose. It will take courage, It will take fearlessness. It will take incessant striving. It will take every single Dominican to join the fight to feel its fierce urgency. It will also require a resoluteness of character. This is no time for ill-will. No time for petty and destructive criticism.”

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DSC_2902

Royal Bank donates to Red Cross hurricane relief

On Wednesday, October 25, 2017, the branch of the British Red Cross’ hurricane relief efforts have been boosted by a donation by the Royal Bank of Canada. The volunteer service organization was presented with a check for US$10,000. Branch Manager Miss Lucille Irish presented the check to chairman of the Red Cross branch, Bennette Roach during a brief ceremony at the bank’s offices in Brades.

Miss Irish said, handing over the oversized replica of the check, said: “Royal Bank, Montserrat is pleased to present this check to the Montserrat Red Cross. It’s a check for US$10,000. This is our contribution to help persons who were affected by the hurricane Maria.”

On behalf of the Montserrat Branch of the BRC we are grateful and say thank you very much to RBC one of our oldest corporate citizens in MNI. I understand that this year we celebrate in MNI 100 years of RBC being in MNI. We look forward to even more contributions as in celebration of that period. I want say thank you very much on behalf of Red Cross and the people who are going to be beneficiaries of the $10,0000.”Chairman Roach, while saying that the funds will be used for persons who were impacted in the September hurricane, said: “There are all kinds of different things we can do. Red Cross does anything that is humanitarian, anything that help uplifts people in time of difficulty.”

We would have to determine what those things are,” he said. “Take for example people like farmers who have lost almost everything and which have put a real damper on agriculture and food in Montserrat…”

He cited also the disaster risk reduction program the Red Cross branch has been associated with. “We have been carrying out this and can assist in that area.

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Hurricane damage significantly impact Caribbean tourism

Hurricane damage significantly impact Caribbean tourism

by STAFF WRITER

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Nov 1, CMC – The region is observing Caribbean Tourism Month in November amid the “significant” economic impact caused by the passage of Hurricanes Irma and Maria through the Lesser Antilles last month

Secretary General of the Barbados-based Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO), Hugh Riley, said that the regional tourism sector in 2017 can be described as a “tale of two situations” as a result of the Category 5 hurricanes that devastated countries like Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, the British Virgin Islands, the Turks and Caicos Islands, Anguilla, St. Martin and to a lesser extent the Bahamas and St. Kitts-Nevis.

Riley said that during the first half of this year, the region performed at new record pace, welcoming 16.6 million international tourist arrivals at a healthy growth rate of 5.2 percent, when compared to the same period last year.

However, following the passage of the hurricanes, growth was severely impacted with the revised forecast for 2017 now at one to two percent, down from 2.5 to 3.5 percent.

“The economic impact of the storms is significant. The Caribbean Development Bank predicts that every one percent reduction in tourist arrivals (based on 2015 travel data) will cost US$137 million in lost revenue.

“No doubt, the hurricanes have presented us with some major challenges, but we are determined to rebuild better and more sustainably,’ Riley said,

He said while the affected countries are at various stages on the road back to normality, it is also important to note that over 75 percent of the region was unscathed by the storms.

“In this context, we encourage you to keep visiting the Caribbean, as this is the best way to help the region,” he said, noting that during Caribbean Tourism Month “we will focus on adventure, in keeping with the Year of Adventure.

“Mindful of the impact of the storms, there are still countless travel adventures to be had this month and for the remainder of the year. We look forward to hearing of the various events and activities planned for the month, and with your permission, we will share your information and images. “

He said the month also provides an opportunity to reiterate the message that “we are open for business and we do have an exciting product to offer.

“Yes, some challenges remain and those are being addressed, but let’s also emphasize the superb experiences we can offer to guests right now and help them and their companions have a Caribbean adventure to remember.

“Together, let’s keep the right focus on this important industry and reaffirm the value of One Sea, One Voice, One Caribbean,” Riley added.

Posted in Hurricane, International, Local, News, Regional0 Comments

ECOSCO

UN appeals for aid for Caribbean countries devastated by recent hurricanes By Nelson A. King

By Nelson A. King

UNITED NATIONS, Oct 25, CMC – The United Nations has on the international community to assist Caribbean countries devastated by recent hurricanes, so they can “build back better.”

It is also calling for more action at all levels to manage disaster and climate risk, and to prepare for future extreme weather events.

Several Caribbean countries including Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Anguilla, the British Virgin Islands, Turks and Caicos Islands, as well as St. Martin, Puerto Rico and the United States Virgin Islands were devastated as Hurricanes Irma and Maria, category 5 storms made their way through the Lesser Antilles last month, killing scores of people and leaving damage estimated at billions of dollars.

ECOSCO
Delegates attending UN’s Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) meeting

On Tuesday, the UN’s Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) organized a special meeting on the “Aftermath of recent hurricanes: Achieving a risk-informed and resilient 2030 Agenda” to discuss the current situation along with the economic, social and environmental impacts on those affected.

“These disasters led to tragic loss of lives, displaced people, damaged infrastructure and homes, and disrupted livelihoods in both developed and developing countries,” said Marie Chatardová, ECOSOC President in her opening remarks.

“We have seen how inequalities exacerbated people’s exposure to the impact of disaster,” she said, noting how easily development gains can be erased if a risk-informed, resilient 2030 Agenda is not pursued.

Stating that the impending cost of recovery and reconstruction in affected communities raises concerns over long-term sustainable development, Chatardová said “we must help affected states get back on the path towards sustainable development.”

Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed said “the international community has a responsibility to support affected countries to become more resilient; to promote a risk-informed approach to reconstruction; and to strengthen their financial systems so that they can cope with such large-scale shocks.”

She recalled UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ visit to the hurricane-devastated Caribbean earlier this month and his strong appeal not only for humanitarian aid but also for new mechanisms for building resilience.

“Investing in disaster-resilient infrastructure and housing pays off over the long term by reducing economic losses and loss of life. We must harness the power of technology, innovation and partnerships to move towards a green, clean, sustainable energy future,” she said.

Mohammed outlined a three-fold aim to meet immediate needs, put new concessionary financing arrangements into place and design and implement a framework for long-term financing resilience, saying “the Secretary-General looks forward to determined follow-up action by the Council to ensure strong progress on the ground.”

UN General Assembly President Miroslav Lajčák said that the response must “match the magnitude and urgency of the situation.”

ECOSOC Vice-President and St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ Permanent Representative to the UN, Inga Rhonda King, said that all member states have committed to developing and implementing holistic disaster risk management at all levels in line with the Sendai Framework.

“It is now time for action to turn these commitments into reality for all,” she said.

Meantime, the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) said that the criteria for access to concessional financing must change to support Caribbean countries with their reconstruction.

ECLAC’s debt relief proposal for the countries most affected by recent hurricanes was presented by Alicia Bárcena, the organization’s Executive Secretary.

Bárcena told the meeting that in the last six months, Caribbean island states have suffered the consequences of “the worst hurricane season this century.”

She noted that there were more than 102 deaths, adding that some countries were severely ravaged, such as Barbuda, Anguilla, St. Martin, Dominica, Cuba and Puerto Rico.

Bárcena spoke of the “great vulnerabilities that Caribbean countries face, both economic and environmental, stemming from their small size and their degree of exposure to external influences beyond their control.

In addition, she noted the region’s “fragile fiscal situation,” stating that, on average the region’s debt levels exceed 70 percent of their Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

“Despite these vulnerabilities, which are compounded by the fact that 70 percent of the population lives in coastal areas lying just 10 meters above sea level, the majority of Caribbean nations are classified as ‘middle income countries,’ which complicates their access to financing for development,” Bárcena said.

“It is urgent that the criteria be changed for obtaining concessionary funds that can help in the reconstruction of their economies,”

During the meeting, ECLAC’s most senior representative recalled the organization’s proposal presented some months ago to ease the Caribbean’s debt burden, which currently amounts to US$52 billion dollars.

ECLAC said this initiative was “widely embraced” by other members of the panel, as well as by the countries representatives who participated in the debate.

Bárcena said the proposal calls for creating a resilience fund for climate change adaptation that involves the use of resources from the Green Climate Fund to finance projects.

“We have identified a portfolio of adaptation projects that can be executed with these resources; but, for that to happen, it is fundamental that countries have access to concessional financing, despite being categorized as middle income nations.

“This initiative has already been presented to the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and to other bodies, and we believe that the resilience fund must be managed by institutions such as the Caribbean Development Bank, or the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), or the Green Climate Fund, among others,” she added.

“We cannot continue asphyxiating the Caribbean regarding access to the resources that it needs. The financing problem must be addressed collectively by the international community,” Bárcena said, insisting that the UN’s 2030 Agenda is “precisely the best tool available to ensure this issue remains a priority in global forums.

“The Caribbean needs long term low cost financing to achieve the various SDG [Sustainable Development Goals] goals, but the fiscal space has narrowed considerably given the high cost of public debt servicing,” she added, stating that the voluntary national reports on follow-up to the Agenda that several Caribbean countries are presenting are proof of their ability to adapt to the goals of sustainable development.

“The Caribbean must remain a top priority at a regional and global level,” Bárcena said, indicating that ECLAC is already working with several Caribbean countries on evaluating the damage caused by the latest hurricanes, utilizing its “Damage and Loss Assessment (DALA)” methodology.

Posted in Climate/Weather, News, Regional0 Comments

Premier Dr. Orlando Smith

International banks back recovery efforts in BVI

TORTOLA, British Virgin Islands, OCT. 19, CMC-Recovery efforts currently underway in the British Virgin Islands (BVI)are being backed by international financial institutions.

This was disclosed by Premier Dr. Orlando Smith on Wednesday following recent meetings held with officials from the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Premier Dr. Orlando Smith
Premier Dr. Orlando Smith

“We had very productive discussions on the ways in which reconstruction can be financed, both short and long-term. I am pleased we have the full-support of the CDB”, said Smith, who is also the Finance Minister.

He added that the banks are also interested in rebuilding local structures to withstand future ‘extreme weather events’ such as hurricanes Irma and Maria.

“Our objective is to become a model of resilience in the region and a centre of excellence in infrastructure. This will not only make us more resilient, but also more attractive as a tourism destination and international business centre,” Smith said.

Minister of Health and Social Security, Ronnie Skelton, as well as Director of the BVI London Office, Benito Wheatley, also attended the meeting which was held it Washington DC.

The talks were held as part of the annual World Bank/International Monetary Fund meetings.

Meanwhile, Works Minister, Mark Vanterpool, says residents will start to see better roads in about two months as the government will be filling the pothole-riddled thoroughfares with concrete and other material as a temporary fix.

The minister explained that the temporary solution is being employed because the territory’s two asphalt plants were knocked out of commission by last month’s hurricanes.

Vanterpool, however, noted that the condition of roads is worsening because of rainfall that continues to affect the already-battered British overseas dependent territory.

 

 

Government seeking to re-negotiate World Bank multi-million loan

October 17, 2017
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ST. JOHN’S, Antigua, Oct 17, CMC – The Antigua and Barbuda government says it wants to re-negotiate a US$40 million loan which the World Bank had approved for re-building Barbuda that was severely damaged by Hurricane Irma last month.

Prime Minister Gaston Browne, speaking on OBSERVER Radio here, said the terms and condition of the loan from the Washington-based financial institution are not in the best interest of the island.

Barbuda1
Hurricane damage in Barbuda (File Photo)

“Forty million dollars over 10 years, but as far as we are concerned the term is too short and we have asked them to reconsider and perhaps consider up to 20 years with a five year moratorium,” Browne said.

Browne, a former banker, said that his government is also seeking the World Bank to reduce the interest rate from the 3.5 to four per cent to one per cent.

“We have asked them to reconsider the terms and they said they will put it to the board and will get back to us,” Browne said, defending the request of his administration on the basis that the loans would be funding projects for the rehabilitation of Barbuda that was declared inhabitable following the passage of the Category 5 storm on September 6.

He said the funds would also be going into non-revenue earning projects.

“If it were grants, we would push for some more, but we have to be careful in terms of how much we borrow, because not only borrowing you have to have the capacity to repay.

“What we are saying with this particular loan is that most of the funds will be going into non-revenue generating resilient infrastructure. For example in Barbuda we will be putting the lines underground. We will be replacing all of the wooden posts with concrete posts and technically speaking they will not be creating any funds, any revenue, so again we have to make sure we do not over burden the Treasury, because at the end of the day we have to pay it back,” Browne told radio listeners.

Browne had said soon after the passage of the hurricane that more than US$100 million dollars would be required to rebuild Barbuda, home to an estimated 1, 600 people.

ST. VINCENT-CRIME-Police offer reward following shooting incident

October 16, 2017
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KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent, Oct 16, CMC – Police Monday offered an EC$20,000 (One EC dollar =US$0.37 cents) reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those involved in a shooting incident over the last weekend resulting in eight people suffering gunshot wounds.

economic declinePolice are working on the motive that the gunmen were in search of an unidentified man who had recently been released from prison.

Police were reported to have recovered at least 40 bullet casings at the shop in the South Windward community, where the incident occurred on Saturday night.

Police are also investigating another incident in which Jawanza “Sanga” Frazer was shot several times about his body on Sunday.

Frazer, who was standing on the roadside,  was shot by an occupant of a vehicle who sped away from the Kingstown community.

Posted in Buisness/Economy/Banking, Hurricane, International, Local, News, Regional0 Comments

EU

EU provides additional €500,000 in humanitarian aid to Dominica

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Oct. 26, CMC – The European Union is providing an additional €500,000 in humanitarian aid to Dominica, following the severe destruction caused by Hurricane María last month.

On September 18, María, a category 5 hurricane, hit Dominica leaving more than 70,000 people in need of urgent relief.

EU“We aim to increase our support to families who are displaced and living in collective centres or with host families since the hurricane, and are in need of shelter, food and water,” said Androulla Kaminara, ECHO’s Director of Operations for Latin America and the Caribbean. .

The additional aid will provide immediate shelter and household material for 5,000 vulnerable families in Dominica.

Newtown, an area in Dominica-

Shelter kits, as well as housing repair materials, training and technical support will be provided to the most vulnerable whose homes have been damaged.

”The EU has been committed since the very beginning to support Dominica after the tragedy. We are now committed to further assist Dominica in early recovery and reconstruction,” said Daniela Tramacere, EU Ambassador to the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States.

This additional humanitarian aid complements an initial grant of €250,000 which was allocated last month to alleviate the affected population’s most urgent needs .

Posted in Buisness/Economy/Banking, Hurricane, International, Local, News, Regional0 Comments

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