The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) came to a close last month with the unexpected but highly encouraging move by the Danish government to put forward $13 million USD towards loss and damage. With global communities still reeling from the impacts of Hurricane Ian, causing 137 deaths (to date) and estimated over 50 billion USD in damage in the US, after hitting Jamaica, Cayman and Cuba and Hurricane Fiona hitting Bermuda, Dominican Republic, Turks and Caicos, Guadeloupe, Puerto Rico and Canada and deadly floods in Pakistan, a resolution on loss and damage has been at the top of the agenda for at-risk communities. Denmark’s contribution is meant to kickstart, or further ignite after Scotland’s initiation at COP26, a constructive conversation towards finding an equitable solution. COP27 must advance not just the discussion but further action. Yet this was not the only development at UNGA — civil society descended en masse to New York to find opportunities to collaborate on resilience-building projects, and even before Denmark’s announcement, there was optimism that the world adjacent to the right track for climate action.
The Caribbean on the World Stage
New York Climate Week, which coincided with UNGA, saw multiple side-events and discussions held that furthered conversations on public-private partnerships towards climate finance and sustainable development. Stakeholders from around the world were present and keen to find opportunities to collaborate. Knowledge-sharing events turned into pathways to unlock grants and financing for projects in the Caribbean, and allowed for constructive conversations with representatives from the private and public sectors. A key consideration that was often brought up throughout climate week and UNGA, was the need to complement the innovation we are seeing especially in the global South as well as the North with more sources of catalytic funding.
Bahamas Prime Minister, Philip Davis had some very pragmatic recommendations, including “Let those who pledge write the cheque” as we are heading into COP27 where there are often many announcements the details matter. Michael Bloomberg at his event announced the need for and their plan to implement greater tracking mechanisms so that amidst the announcements we are also seeing the action being realized. What we know is that there is momentum and the capacity to take action. Barbados Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley highlighted how international financial structures can — and have in the past – been altered to respond to crises. The same changes should be made now, she argued, to support vulnerable communities on the frontlines of climate change in future-proofing their infrastructure and institutions. “With the power of the pen, we can change the capital that is available to multilateral development banks that will remove the barriers that currently exist for us to fight poverty,” she expressed, “With those commitments, we can make a difference in today’s world.”
Unlocking private finance has been a rallying call for us at the CCSA as we continue to match investors with local projects across the Caribbean, and hearing the discussions carried out at the sidelines UNGA have left us with a sense of hope heading into COP27. At UNGA, the Caribbean was firmly on the world stage. From speeches made by the leaders of Barbados, Antigua & Barbuda, Jamaica, Guyana and St. Lucia all advocating for stronger international cooperation at a financial and governance level, to discussions held between civil society and policymakers on advancing loss and damage, the Caribbean community’s interests were well represented.
Building on UNGA
We are now in a critical moment between UNGA and COP27 where there must continue to be discussions, negotiations and progress made on key issues. UNGA has provided multiple avenues for new solutions — especially on loss and damage. The opportunities created at UNGA can be further developed through regional meetings such as the 2nd Hydrogen Congress for Latin America & the Caribbean (H2LAC) or the Barbados Chamber of Commerce & Industry’s Renewable Energy Expo. Likewise, we need to take the time to build bridges with other communities in similar situations, as Prime Minister Mia Mottley expressed recently, “The ability for leaders and experts of island nations to come together on the basis of our shared experiences during this climate crisis, is a moment that is of great importance not just to us who live in island nations, but indeed to the entire world.”
This is where the power of UNGA lies — in its ability to bring world leaders, civil society, and the private sector together in order to further the conversations that spark action necessary to build a better world. Climate action requires global effort and commitment, as well as local innovation – the only way to meld these together is by collaborating, sharing knowledge, and having hard discussions in order to confront the challenges ahead. Building on UNGA means building on loss and damage for communities in the Caribbean and elsewhere with the support of countries like Denmark, or finding new opportunities for resilience-building and climate financing with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The solutions for a better world are available through collaboration, following UNGA and into COP27, these pathways form and develop, eventually leading to the outcomes we seek.