While there is global agreement on what needs to be implemented to help vulnerable countries fight the climate crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic, Minister in Economic Affairs and Investment, Marsha Caddle, laments that the resource allocation gap to small island developing states is still too wide.
She made this observation while addressing the virtual UN-High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development, Town Hall session entitled The SDGs in time of Crisis: A Sustainable, Inclusive and Resilient Recovery from COVID-19 as an Opportunity to realize the SDGs.
The Minister informed the online forum that Barbados was recovering from the passage of Category 1 Hurricane Elsa, which caused significant damage to shelter and basic services on the island, and loss of lives and properties in neighbouring countries.
Ms. Caddle pointed out that the countries on the frontline of the climate crisis – located between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn – were among those whose tourism-based economies were hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.
In fact, the Minister articulated the view that recovery in these countries was hampered by inadequate access to vaccines and unequal recognition of vaccination evidence technologies and technological products.
She stated: “Tourism-based economies, even as we diversify into renewable energy high-value agricultural products and high-skilled technology products, need the world to move again in order for immediate recovery to take place. But beyond…foreign investment to our shores, the goal is to move again in order to avoid both the figurative and literal separation of the haves and have nots.”
Ms. Caddle also shared how Barbados was tackling multiple crises that it had encountered recently. She mentioned a reformed national social security system that expanded coverage to include the self-employed; programmes to subsidise wages for job retention in the tourism sector that employs up to 40 per cent of the labour force, and ambitious energy obligations under the Paris Agreement that would result in the reduction of emissions through the use of renewable energy and the decarbonisation of the transport sector.
Additionally, the Minister noted that the recent Debt Service Suspension Initiative did not provide eligibility for several small island economies; an ease in their debt accumulated position, and the capacity to rebuild post disaster.
“For the SDGs, for green COVID recovery and for the climate crisis, the world needs a new understanding and agreement on eligibility and vulnerability with respect to the need for implementation and we need instruments that respond,” Ms. Caddle underlined.