Dominica’s Foreign Affairs Minister Francine Baron has underlined the Commonwealth as a key partner in helping small states to access climate funding following natural disasters
Dominica’s Foreign Affairs Minister Francine Baron has underlined the Commonwealth as a key partner in helping small states to access climate funding following natural disasters.
Baron made the statement following a visit to an Overseas Development Institute event, `Building Back Better: a resilient Caribbean’ on January 30, 2018, alongside Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland.
The Minister said that long-term resilience was essential within the reconstruction process, which follows widespread devastation caused by Hurricanes Maria and Irma in 2017.
As extreme climate events gain in frequency, she added, vulnerable states needed expertise and funds from Official Development Assistance (ODA).
Secretary-General Scotland visited Dominica, Antigua and Barbuda following the hurricanes and has campaigned for access to ODA.
Scotland pointed out that the Caribbean was one of the most heavily indebted regions in the world due to its geographical location and resultant vulnerability to climatic episodes.
The Commonwealth Secretariat has therefore reviewed and strengthened its climate change programme in the wake of recent natural disasters, including by looking at debt management.
It is establishing an index to help show this vulnerability is not a result of fiscal imprudence, but inherent.
In a statement the Secretary General said: “I have undertaken to do everything in my power to challenge rules which render a high-income but climate-vulnerable country which has just lost all its economic sectors and its entire GDP to a hurricane ineligible.
“We have already seen progress on this, with donor countries now committed to a review of the rules.
“The Commonwealth has also been trying to respond to its members’ needs in a holistic fashion, whether it is trade, environment or people.”
Dominican Minister Baron said: “We are, in the Caribbean, mostly middle income and high income countries but we are very vulnerable to extreme weather events.
“So far we have had great difficulty in accessing assistance because we do not have the expertise to present projects in the manner that is required for funding.
“The Commonwealth has massive convening power; it can bring all its members together and work with us to understand the challenges, particularly those we have accessing development assistance.”
Read More: Pravind Kumar Jugnauth, Prime Minister of Mauritius, explains the plight of small islands and other developing countries in the face of climate events, and introduces the Commonwealth Climate Finance Access Hub