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Senior IMF official visiting Caribbean for talks on climate change, financing

A senior official of the International Monetary Fund, IMF, is visiting the Caribbean as the region prepares for its participation in the United Nations Climate Conference, otherwise called COP27.

IMF Deputy Managing Director Bo Li is focusing on discussion on climate change, climate financing, and how the Washington-based financial institution can help in the run-up to the November 6-18 conference in Egypt.

“The IMF is confident about the region’s commitment to build resilience. While several countries in the Caribbean have made significant progress on resilience to natural disasters, progress remains uneven. Given the large amount of investment required, building resilience will require at least a decade of investments in most small island states,” Li told the Caribbean Media Corporation.

He said that his trip would build on the visit earlier this year by IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva to the Caribbean to buttress the positive collaboration between the IMF and regional countries.

Li arrived in Dominica on Monday to meet with Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit and his Cabinet, visit the geothermal plant and housing projects, and hold discussions with academia, private sector and other representatives, before departing for The Bahamas.

On his visit to The Bahamas, which begins today, Wednesday, Li will meet with Prime Minister Philip Davis for discussions on climate change, visit Abaco to view the effects of Hurricane Dorian and reconstruction efforts, as well as participate in the 59th Caricom Central Bank Governors Meeting, hosted by the Central Bank of The Bahamas.

Li told CMC that both The Bahamas and Dominica are extremely vulnerable to natural disasters, recalling the devastation caused by Hurricane Dorian in 2019 and Hurricane Maria in 2017, respectively.

“The visit will provide an opportunity to see firsthand the progress that is being made by the two countries and how climate change is affecting them, and the importance of building resilient economies,” he said.

In Dominica, his schedule included visits to projects implemented under the country’s Disaster Resilience Strategy, which was adopted in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. In the Bahamas, he will visit some of the sights that suffered the devastation of recent hurricanes and a project that focuses on coral restoration.

“The Caribbean is facing tough conditions as a result of climate change,” Li said, adding that the recent natural disasters in Dominica and The Bahamas had enormous human and economic costs.

“Given the small size of these countries, the impact has been large in relation to the size of the economies, as natural disasters affect the entire territory.”

He said the IMF has drawn important lessons from the natural disasters that affect the Caribbean region, including those that affected The Bahamas and Dominica, and these lessons have helped to inform the IMF’s policy advice.

“These key lessons include the importance of ex-ante resilient investment by ensuring that infrastructure can withstand natural disasters; preparing strong insurance frameworks for quick access to resources in the aftermath of disasters, and by strengthening coverage and access to private insurance; and ensuring there are strong policies in place for ex-post social assistance and post-disaster protocols,” said Li.

“My message to both countries is one of encouragement and support. If there is one clear lesson from my experiences, it is the importance of building a resilient economy. The value of this has become even clearer in the context of the ongoing crises. We need to think about resilience in a multidimensional way.”

In that regard, he said the IMF has been providing support to regional governments, including the preparation of disaster resilience strategies in Dominica and Grenada. He added that the IMF has recently established a Resilience and Sustainability Trust that assists countries invest in resilience against natural disasters.

Barbados was the first Caribbean country to request RST financing, Li said.


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