The climate crisis has had a significant impact on the reorientation of Barbados’ entire Public Sector Investment Programme.
This is according to Minister in the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Investment, Marsha Caddle, who was speaking at a presentation and panel discussion on the topic Assessing and Addressing the Impact of Natural Disasters.
The event was organized by the Inter-American Development Bank, and held at the Courtyard by Marriott, recently.
According to the Minister, the climate crisis has implications on a country’s entire economic landscape and its priorities.
She explained: “The climate crisis has an effect on the nature of disasters and how we experience it, but it [also] has implications for your entire economic landscape and all of a country’s priorities ….
“It really changes everything about the way that you prioritize; organize your work and the entire reality of the situation you are living. We are not being dramatic when we talk about this being an existential threat, and so what it has required is for us to relook, rethink and reorient everything about the way we do business,” she said.
Minister Caddle added that the island’s failure to make economic investments over the last decade, coupled with the worsening climate crisis led to government realizing that “a complete reorientation of our entire Public Sector Investment Programme” was needed.
Explaining that the Public Sector Investment Programme is where all the capital work projects were based, she stated: “Because of the under investment that we have seen in infrastructure in the previous decade, and because of the fact that the climate crisis has meant on the one hand an increased severity in drought, it means that water and sanitation now have the biggest draw for us, in terms of the Public Sector Investment Programme.
“It means that most of where we invest and how we invest is about the climate crisis and is about increasing resilience to natural disasters. It has to be, because it makes no sense to talk about your balance of payments if you do not have a country in which to function; if you do not have citizens who can be productive; if you do not have economic sectors that can continue to strive,” she outlined.
Minister Caddle further stressed that all government’s investments needed to be resilient; pointing out that nowadays GDP loss from natural disasters and extreme weather events was in the region of 200 to 300 per cent. “There is no way to save up to replace that loss,” she said.
She said that government was relooking the financial instruments that it used because not only is immediate liquidity after a serve weather event a necessity, but there was a need to build in resilience before events happen.
“And really, our entire orientation as a government has been and continues to be about identifying the kinds of instruments and carving out a financial sector, in collaboration with the private sector, that includes resilience in the market place,” Minister Caddle said.