Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley is leading the charge in dialogue to see how Barbados and its regional counterparts can protect their economies in the face of climate change.
And, she is also calling on regional governments to shape their future in conjunction with their partners, as they seek out affordable insurance to sustain economies in the face of greater threats from hurricanes and other climate events.
The Prime Minister made these statements as she addressed the opening ceremony for an Insurance Colloquium under the theme ‘Insurance in the Age of Climate Change’, at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, on Tuesday.
“For us and other countries to the south of us, it is not just about hurricanes, it is about floods. And therefore, how we choose to measure how to protect ourselves is absolutely critical and important. There are countries in the region whose leaders are complaining that the cost of insurance in some instances, particularly those in the hotel sector, may be as much as 15 to 20 per cent on returning costs of those companies. That is unsustainable. The conversation must start,” she stated, noting that the under- insured and uninsured were too visible in the region.
Ms. Mottley called on those present to leave the preconceived notions aside because the Caribbean did not have the luxury of time. “We are living in unusual times and unusual times call for unusual action. That unusual action requires the deconstruction and the reconstruction of what is necessary to serve our needs,” she said.
She explained that in the case of Barbados, Government determined that the suspension of principal payments for commercial, local and foreign debts, and the ability to capitalize on interest payments to allow for two years of fiscal space was necessary to start the rebuilding process in the wake of a disaster.
She added that the issue of growth and resilience bonds must also be discussed. “In November last year, in Washington, for the first time we placed on the table the fact that we have just under US$50 billion in savings in this region attracting interest rates of 0.1 per cent and 0.2 per cent.
“It is a pool of funds that is crying out for a larger and better rate of return. It is happening at the same time that our businesses and our governments need access to funding in order to be able to build out greater resilience and to adapt to the things that the need to adapt to as a result of the climatic events,” the Prime Minister pointed out.
However, she reasoned that if people could help solve the problem through creative financial instruments such as growth and resilience bonds, then a part of the problem would be solved.
“It may mean that the CARICOM Development Fund’s Charter has to be amended. It may also mean that we may have to forge partnerships with our brothers and sisters of the Caribbean Development Bank to ensure that the integrity of the process is upper most such that the citizens of the region feel that in getting a higher rate of return for their savings, they are also helping to build the very region that is part of their sustenance,” Ms. Mottley said.