The President of the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), Dr. William Warren Smith, is urging regional leaders and development partners to work collaboratively and proactively to address the Region’s vulnerabilities, and to support resilience-building in the energy, agriculture and air transport sectors.
According to a release issued by the CDB on Wednesday, in his opening statement to the Bank’s Annual Meeting of its Board of Governors, the President shared perspectives on resilience, examined regional success stories and lessons learned, and pointed to opportunities for the Caribbean to triumph over recent setbacks—including the impacts of the 2017 Atlantic Hurricane Season.
“Our Region has had to cope with countless natural disasters and other shocks throughout its history. And we have demonstrated repeatedly our ability to ‘bounce back’ from such disastrous events,” Smith told delegates at the event, which is being held in Grenada.
“However, our responses have been largely reactionary; and the cost of responding has been rising steadily, undermining other efforts to get onto a sustainable development platform,” the President added.
In his statement, Smith urged regional leaders to climate-proof their countries’ energy systems and invest in renewable energy and energy efficiency to build economic resilience. In addition, he highlighted opportunities that technological advances and price reductions in renewables present.
The President acknowledged the critical contribution of the agriculture sector to economic activity in the Caribbean, noting that it accounts for over 10 percent of output in Belize, Dominica and Suriname, and as much as 33 percent in Guyana. He said, however, the Caribbean’s agricultural output had fallen consistently since the early 1990s, partly due to climate change impacts such as floods and droughts.
CDB, he pointed out, has been funding climate-smart and climate-proofing agricultural projects in countries such as Grenada and Jamaica. The projects also include training; and assistance in irrigation, renewable energy, storage for crops, marketing, extension services and other areas for farmers, who are among the most vulnerable groups in Caribbean societies and often reside in rural, poor communities.
CDB’s Annual Meeting continues until May 31, with seminars and forums at which the Bank’s Governors will receive updates on critical operational developments that could have implications for the Bank’s day-to-day management. They will also consider proposed strategic approaches that could enhance CDB’s effectiveness and responsiveness to its Borrowing Member Countries.