Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Dr. Jerome Walcott. (FP)

Concessional financing is necessary for Barbados and other small island developing states (SIDS) to adapt to the economic and environmental shocks brought about by climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Dr. Jerome Walcott, made this call for concessional financing while delivering remarks at the General Debate on the UNCTAD 15 Virtual Conference Platform, yesterday.

Minister Walcott stated: “While there are efforts at the global level to shore up resources for assisting developing countries to mitigate and adapt to climate change, oftentimes those that are most vulnerable to the climate crisis are unable to access such resources….

“The pandemic demonstrates the need to continue work on vulnerability indices, with a view to ensuring that SIDS can access the support required to recover from and build resilience to external shocks. Such measures ought to move beyond the sole reliance on per capita GDP to determine development and by extension eligibility for concessional financing and other types of concessional assistance.”

He added that the inability to access concessional financing has been hampered by the use of artificial and inadequate criteria, thereby marginalising a number of countries which are in dire need of such resources. 

The Minister of Foreign Trade pointed out that over time, Barbados had seen an “undeniable nexus” between trade and climate change through disruptions to production, supply, transportation and distribution chains. 

“Our ability to transition successfully from a state of acute vulnerability to sustainable levels of prosperity, depend in large measure on advances in our technical, financial and institutional capacity,” Senator Walcott said.

The Minister also made a call for the establishment of a single global inclusive forum for international tax cooperation at the intergovernmental level, which he believes should be a goal shared by all countries, especially if “we are to bridge persistent inequities as well as address the discriminatory application of rules”.

Senator Walcott stressed that Barbados is a faithful supporter of multilateralism, as it allows small countries the ability to influence decision-making on issues that are not only important to them, but may have a significant bearing on their sustainable development. 

Speaking on the conference theme, “From Inequality and Vulnerability: To Prosperity for All”, Minister Walcott shared that this theme did not emerge by happenstance. 

“Rather, it is our shared commitment to bolster the trade and development prospects of developing countries as well as to enhance the decision-making powers of all countries on all issues that impinge on them, and in so doing, leaves no one behind. 

“For Barbados, the theme serves as the impetus to transform UNCTAD into an entity that is fit for purpose and that responds to the needs of developing countries, particularly the smallest and most vulnerable amongst us.” 

The General Debate is the opportunity for member states to express their views on the substantive issues of the conference through formal statements.

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