Mon | Sep 26, 2022

Holness calls for comprehensive approach to development financing

Published:Friday | September 23, 2022 | 8:29 AM
Prime Minister Andrew Holness addressing the 77th Session of the United Nations General Assembly Debate in New York on September 22, 2022. –Contributed photo.

Lester Hinds/ Gleaner Writer

Prime Minister Andrew Holness has called for reforms to the global financial architecture if small island developing states like Jamaica are to survive the effects of climate change and allow them to grow their economies without incurring massive debts to do so.

Holness made his call while speaking at the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Thursday.

“Climate Change is an immediate existential threat for SIDS [Small Island Developing States] like Jamaica, the Caribbean and the Pacific. Concerted action to slow down and halt global temperature rise is literally a question of our survival,” he said.

He said that while Jamaica will continue to develop its resilience and play its part in mitigating climate change, the country cannot, by its actions alone, change the trajectory.

“We call on all countries to meet their commitments and contributions to climate targets. And we call on the developed world to increase their commitments and ambitions in climate financing particularly for adaptation and for loss and damage. As an island, Jamaica is keenly attuned to the importance of protecting and sustainably using our ocean and marine resources,” he said.

Holness said that Small Island Developing States and some middle-income countries have a particular vulnerability to climate and external economic shocks which have an oversize impact relative to their national budgets and often crippling impact on their infrastructure.

“For SIDS to survive economic shocks and recover lost and damaged infrastructure, they are forced to borrow, only to be confronted again in a few years with another round of natural disasters which could wipe out significant infrastructure and force us to add to our already high debt,” he said.

Jamaica believes that a comprehensive and targeted approach to accessing development financing is needed.

“We fully support the work of the High-Level Panel developing the Multi-Dimensional Vulnerability Index. We eagerly anticipate an era of truly equitable access to concessional financing and other funding support which will enable us to invest in resilient infrastructure and create fiscal buffers so that we can withstand and recover quickly from the next economic, health, or climate shock with little borrowing. Without the acknowledgement of vulnerability as a basis for access to finance, SIDS will continue to struggle and will be unable to achieve the SDGs,” the Prime Minister said.

Holness noted that as leaders were gathered at the event the world faces unprecedented overlapping crises, the ongoing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the war in Ukraine, inflation, debt, energy and food insecurity, and natural disasters fuelled by climate change.

“While every country has been negatively impacted, we do not all have the same capacity to withstand shocks and recover. Indeed, recovery has been uneven, and there has been further widening of pre-existing development inequalities,” he said.

Holness said that Small Island Developing States, like Jamaica, are always mindful that despite their best efforts to improve their fiscal management and debt sustainability, a single climate-generated event could wipe out 100 per cent of their economies in a few hours.

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