Multilateral development finance institutions are being urged to do more to assist Barbados and other Caribbean countries manage the devastating impact from a range of external challenges.
Former President of the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) Dr Warren Smith issued the call on Thursday when he also drew attention to a number of emerging difficulties for the region including higher commodity prices and an increase in poverty as a result of the war in Ukraine, continued supply chain disruptions leading to increased food insecurity and a reduction in the availability of grants and concessionary resources from developed countries.
He explained that it was therefore necessary for multilateral development banks to employ a number of strategies to help the region manage those risks.
“Firstly, there needs to be an accelerated shift to renewables. The mobilisation of available grants and highly concessional and innovative funding by multilateral development banks are needed to accelerate the implementation of renewable energy and energy efficiency projects in our member countries,” said Smith.
He also pointed to the need for greater technical support for Caribbean Community (CARICOM) member states in the area of government policy, regulation, technical training and negotiation and legal skills, as countries create a more enabling environment for investment in the renewable energy sector.
Smith was speaking during the President’s Chat, which formed part of the CDB’s 52nd annual meetings and examined the topic Innovative Financing for Sustainable Development: What can multilateral development banks do?
“There is also the need for increasing food security. The focus on support for increasing intra-regional food production and trade is one of the opportunities. This entails examination of the necessary infrastructure to facilitate farm to market and export transportation,” said Smith.
Pointing to the recent Agri-Food Investment Forum and Expo in Guyana, which examined the issue of food security and Guyana’s ability to produce for the rest of the region, Smith said “That, I think, is a good starting point.”
However, he suggested, “It is going to need support from the multilaterals and I think it is an excellent time for us to become engaged in these types of endeavours.”
Coming out of that meeting, Prime Minister Mia Mottley indicated that speedy transportation of produce would be critical in building the region’s food and nutrition security, while hinting at future opportunities for such transport as she indicated that the CDB is to provide some support for the improvement of transportation arrangements.
A Guyana/Barbados food terminal is to be established through which Barbados would act as a hub to transship agricultural produce between the island and CARICOM. (MM)