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Straughn: Small states need policy space

Straughn: Small states need policy space
Minister in the Ministry of Finance Ryan Straughn (FILE)

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If small states like Barbados are to achieve and meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), they need to be given the appropriate policy space to operate globally.

Minister in the Ministry of Finance, Ryan Straughn, expressed this view on Thursday, as he addressed the first Vulnerable Twenty Group (V20) Climate Vulnerables Finance Summit, where he expressed support for the V20 Vision and Work Plan.

Barbados, he told his audience, is currently experiencing extraordinary challenges, which demonstrate the multi-dimensional nature of vulnerability.

“In the midst of the global pandemic, Barbados has lost almost 20 per cent of its economic activity, due to the global cessation of travel, given our strong linkages with the visitor economy.

“As a result, a large segment of our business community is struggling, and naturally a wide cross-section of the population has become fully exposed to poverty, for the first time in a generation,” Straughn indicated.

Stating that the country is on the frontline of climate change, the Minister highlighted the island’s struggle with the ground water crisis, caused by prolonged droughts; the influx of Sargassum seaweed; the increased intensity of weather events, and the recent ash fall from the eruption of the La Soufriere Volcano, to strengthen his point.

“In addition, unresolved issues of correspondent banking and the arbitrary placement on black and or grey lists, due to differences of public policy, also add to the economic vulnerability of small states like Barbados, and quite naturally our capacity to properly finance our commitment to achieving the SDGs by 2030,” he explained.

Straughn stressed that Barbados was committed to its ambitious target of being fossil fuel free by 2030, and building resilience as part of the economic inclusion. He pointed out that the country had embarked on “a very strong” renewable energy drive to generate wealth and reduce its climate footprint.

“Our fiscal programme is intended to provide relative certainty that will create an environment to boost job-led economic growth, which helps to close the financial protection gap. In short, building resilience within families and communities represents for us the transformation required to meet the challenges of the 21st Century,” he shared.

The V20, led by Bangladesh, convened this first intergovernmental finance summit, which was spearheaded by economies vulnerable to the global climate crisis. The high-level dialogue is aimed at shaping globally cooperative and South-South responses for fast-tracked resilience building efforts, as well as bold new economic and finance actions and partnerships that are updated for the evolving realities of climate and COVID pressures.

The meeting gave the climate threatened nations an opportunity to discuss issues, while exploring appropriate and enhanced responses with the international community. (BGIS)