Barbados will be receiving a US$60 million loan from the European Investment Bank for the Harrison’s Point Isolation Facility in St. Lucy.
Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley made this disclosure on Thursday during a press conference, as she spoke from Brussels on a number of matters pertaining to her participation in meetings at the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland, and discussions on the sidelines of COP26.
After stating that she had met with the President of the European Investment Bank, Ms. Mottley continued: “We are about to get a loan from the European Investment Bank for 60 million US dollars, some of which will be retroactively applied to the money spent to convert Harrison’s Point last February/March.
“… That loan has exceedingly generous terms, because there’s a five-year moratorium…. It is a 20-year loan, so the first five years you pay nothing, 15 years remaining you pay…., I think 1.25 per cent, that (is) the interest rate… That is like the kind of rates we pay at the IMF….”
During the near two-hour press conference/conversation with Barbadians, the Prime Minister emphasised the importance of the COP26 discussions, saying small island developing states were now fighting the battle of their lives.
For Barbados, she contended, attending COP26 was not an option, but an absolute obligation, as she pointed out that this major conference gave them an opportunity to network with global leaders.
She pointed out that as recently as in Paris, it was agreed that actions needed to be taken that would allow countries on the frontline to access money for loss and damage, but they were never fleshed out.
She disclosed that Special Advisor on Climate Change and Water Resource Management, Dr. Hugh Sealy, is in Glasgow working with other members of the team to create that mechanism for fair assessment for loss and damage.
Ms. Mottley said it was necessary to hold global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, adding that if this was not done, then the conversation would have to be about how small island states would adapt.
“Therefore, what are you going to put on the table to allow us to be able to halt the coastal erosion that is taking place; deal with the…saltwater incursion into our wells. And if that happens, where are we going to get the freshwater from? Are we going to have to build the desalination plants?” she asked.
The Prime Minister noted that the last Government negotiated contracts for two desalination plants, but her administration would need to renegotiate some aspects of them. She disclosed that Government had a team in place to renegotiate those contracts.
“I anticipate that it will probably be another two or three months before those discussions can finish, and then hopefully, we will be able to see how soon we can get them (desalination plants) on stream, probably another 12 to 18 months…,” she stated.
“…We need to be able to protect our access to safe drinking potable water, whether that comes from groundwater sources, or whether that comes as a result of desalination…. We also recognise that we need to do it in a way that is affordable,” she surmised.
Ms. Mottley said during the meetings, there were discussions on the need to have new instruments that would allow the local and international private sectors to help in the adaptation efforts.
In addition, she noted that Barbados had been discussing with the Prime Minister of Denmark, the President of Kenya and the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom how they could collectively work in the area of offshore wind farms. She disclosed that Barbados was interested in setting up at least three, whether floating or fixed.
She continued: “We have received a study that literally looked at what was required for Barbados to have functional wind farms offshore…. Denmark and the United Kingdom…are two global leaders with respect to wind farms. We don’t have the technical capacity…, but we want the technical assistance….”
Ms. Mottley disclosed that the International Financial Corporation, the private sector arm of the World Bank, had been asked to help Barbados manage the procurement relating to the wind farms.