The UK, working with Fiji and Belize, has brought together Small Island Developing States (SIDS) from the Caribbean, Pacific and other regions in a high-level virtual roundtable to discuss better access to finance and identify solutions for a resilient recovery from COVID-19.
The two-day roundtable was officially opened by UK Minister for the Caribbean, Baroness Sugg – and saw important contributions from Caribbean leaders and officials including Prime Minister of Barbados, the Hon Mia Amor Mottley; Prime Minister of St Lucia, the Hon Allen Chastanet; Minister of State for Labour, Government of Belize, Dr. Sen. the Hon. Carla Barnett; CEO in the Belize Ministry of Economic Development and Petroleum, Ms Yvonne Hyde; Director-General, Office of Trade Negotiations, CARICOM, Ambassador Gail Mathurin; Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ms Amina Mohammed; and UK Development Director for the Caribbean, Stefan Kossoff – among other distinguished guests.
Small island states face unique challenges which global systems tend to overlook. Caribbean nations, in particular, are on the frontline of climate change and are already bearing the brunt of its impacts, with a higher vulnerability to natural disasters and economic shocks.
The coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated these issues, putting more pressure on small islands’ finances and diverting critical resources from ongoing work to protect against climate-related threats.
In her opening speech, UK Minister for the Caribbean, Baroness Sugg said: “The UK is committed to supporting Small Island Developing States now and in the future. We recognise the twin impact of climate change and Covid-19 and we co-hosted the meeting today so we can drive real progress to secure vital access to finance.”
Also weighing in on the importance of this event, British High Commissioner to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, Janet Douglas said: “This virtual roundtable, devised by the UK with SIDS partners, provided a great opportunity to highlight the challenges faced by SIDS, and provide a platform to discuss and make practical recommendations for improving their access to concessional finance.
“I am delighted that Caribbean leaders, including the Prime Ministers of Barbados and St Lucia, participated in the roundtable. The discussions at the forum between SIDS’ leaders, the UK and international partners will strengthen efforts to support SIDS in their response to existing economic challenges, which have been exacerbated by COVID-19.” The two-day event was brought to a close with remarks from UK Minister for the Pacific and International Environment, Lord Goldsmith.