Some of the Caribbean’s main development financial partners are expressing keen interest in providing greater support for sustainable development projects in the region.
That news came as President of the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) Dr Gene Leon said the region needs a financing ecosystem to fuel development across a range of sectors, and a more holistic approach to development.
He also pointed to the need for more strategic partnerships between countries and the private sector, external investors, knowledge creators, and multilateral development finance institutions.
“We need a financing ecosystem, we need something that is capable of sustaining a flow of investment demand,” said Leon.
He proposed four main areas in which development should occur – food security, energy security, water security, and quality of life.
“I think if we start from that particular position we will understand that development, therefore, has to be a holistic one which requires us to be able to tackle all of those particular needs outlined,” he said on Thursday.
“To be able to do that, I think there have to be three key facilitators. Those facilitators have to be embracing a digital transformation in everything we do, because it will be part of living in the 21st and 22nd centuries; secondly, we need to address what I think is the Achilles heel of the region over the last 50 years – solving our implementation capacity deficit problem; and the third is embracing and wrapping all of this in a concept of strong governance.”
Leon was addressing the President’s Chat, which is part of the CDB’s 52nd annual meetings that examined Innovative Financing for Sustainable Development: What can Multilateral Development Banks Do?
Acknowledging that all aspects of his proposed holistic development approach would not be done at once, Leon said it meant that things would have to be prioritised.
He said that required easier access to adequate and affordable finance, which was what the CDB was “looking to do as a means to meeting the one purpose we have – making the region a place we, and future generations, would want to live by virtue of choice”.
President of the European Investment Bank (EIB) Dr Werner Hoyer said the provision of grants and loans was no longer enough to help with the region’s development goals, as he pointed to the need to prepare for future health challenges and food security.
He said new instruments need to be deployed to attract private capital.
“There is enormous potential for guarantees and other risk-sharing instruments so that more private capital can be mobilised. As a matter of fact, when I talk to asset holders and investors, they are actively searching for opportunities to invest in these fields,” added Hoyer.
Noting that the EIB shared the CDB’s vision for a transformational and holistic approach to investment in the region’s development, he said this was the “basis for the protection of future generations from the challenges ahead”.
Pledging collaboration with the CDB to provide assistance, Hoyer, who is the chair of the group of multilateral development banks, said climate and environment were key areas of focus.
Meanwhile, President of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) Mauricio Claver-Carone said he was keen on helping Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries achieve their development goals.
“We want to support them and we want to help them. So the way that we can help most of these Eastern Caribbean island nations that so much need our help and our support, but for whatever reason through history and time have not become members of the inter-American Development Bank, is by helping support and strengthen the Caribbean Development Bank and working through the Caribbean Development Bank,” he said.
Currently, only eight of the 15 CARICOM member states are borrowing members of the IDB.
Claver-Carone said he has already started discussions with Leon on collaboration, while noting that the magnitude of what needed to be done to tackle a range of issues and ensure sustainable development in the region was simply too large for the governments alone.
“The private sector has to play and will play an essential role in that,” he said. (MM)