Tuesday 15 October, 2019

CDB puts emphasis on psycho-social resilience following disasters

Warren Smith, President, CDB

Warren Smith, President, CDB

The psychological well-being of citizens following a disaster such as a hurricane will now be a priority of the Caribbean Development Bank.

Speaking at the close of the CDB’s 48th Board of Governors meeting, CDB President Warren Smith said in March, the bank approved resources to address the psychosocial need of those affected by hurricanes.

The theme of the conference was ‘Resilience’.

“Mainstreaming resilience needs to become a way of business for the Caribbean.  All that we do must embody the principles of DRM and CC adaptation/mitigation. The Region’s infrastructure projects, macroeconomic plans, sector plans, policies and strategies must exemplify these principles.

“The Bank has sought to do just this in its interventions, by conducting environmental impact and climate vulnerability analyses and embracing the principle of building back better.  We must, however, also ensure that we are inclusive and that the needs of our vulnerable groups - females, the elderly, and youth are adequately taken into consideration.  The issue of building social resilience and providing for the psycho-social needs of affected persons is key if we are to fully build resilience and transform our economies,” he said.

Emphasis on the psychological needs of people was a recurring theme at the conference with British expert Mark Pelling and Grenada’s Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell touching on the importance of ensuring citizens can have access to counselling and other resources to address the psychological effects of a disaster.

In his closing address, Smith also urged the Caribbean islands to look to the seas as a way to diversify their economies.

“To diversify our economies, we must seek out opportunities to sustainably utilise all the resources (raw materials) at our disposal.  We must not think of ourselves only as Small Island Developing States, but as Big Ocean Developing States.  The sea holds tremendous potential for diversity and greater still if we can adopt a regional approach to the utilization of these resources.  Grenada has been at the vanguard of this effort and provides an excellent example of Big Ocean thinking, and we hope to advance this knowledge in the region through CDB’s own work on the blue economy,” he said.

The CDB President, echoing the sentiments of Antigua and Barbuda’s Prime Minister Gaston Browne, said threats to the Caribbean from changes in the regulatory framework cannot be ignored.

“During these annual meetings, the Management deepened its engagement with Governors and Directors on the issue of the nexus between capital and risk and the possibility of a widened membership in CDB as an appropriate strategic response.   Mr. Chairman, one of the important roles of us as a proactive and responsible Management is to scan the horizon for potential threats that could harm us as an institution as well as our borrowing constituents, and to advance responses for your consideration. 

“We have sought to do this in an honest and frank way.  The changes to the regulatory environment which may further penalize our countries and ourselves simply because of our geographical location are real threats that simply cannot be ignored!  We, therefore, urge countries to move with alacrity to create the necessary buffers and employ available risk transfer vehicles to boost resilience and limit exposure to harm,” he said.  

Smith said the expansion of membership as a strategic consideration in diversifying their lending portfolio and, in so doing, safeguarding the franchise value of CDB to current BMCs cannot be discounted. 

“We are enamoured by the magnitude of the support we got from many Governors in moving this process forward.  We are giving you the assurances Governors that the detailed work that you have asked forward, to accompany the appropriate resolutions will be transmitted to you in the shortest possible time.”

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