Re-Aligning Climate Finance: Accelerating equal access and inclusion 

The high-level side event “Re-Aligning Climate Finance: Accelerating Equal Access and Inclusion” at the fourth International Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS4) brought together regional leaders and experts to address the pressing need for reforming the climate finance mechanisms, in alignment with principles of social justice, inclusion and building resilience. 

This reform is crucial to mitigating the disproportionate impacts of climate change on women, girls, and vulnerable communities in Small Island Developing States (SIDS).

The panellists highlighted the barriers faced, some unique to SIDS in accessing climate finance, including debt sustainability, complex bureaucratic processes, lack of strong financial institutions. They emphasised the urgent need for adopting tools such as the Bridgetown Initiative and the Multidimensional Vulnerability Index (MVI) as inclusive and fair measures for allocating climate finance.

Underscoring the fragility of the current socioeconomic and environmental fabric of SIDS, Diane Quarless stated, “Structural challenges must be taken into account when considering what finances we have to access to. We are in the eye of the storm, the canaries in the coal mine.” 

The multi-hazard contextual realities of the Caribbean amplify existing vulnerabilities of SIDS and the constant need to repair, with debt sustainability being a major challenge. 

Reiterating the structural challenges faced by SIDS, St. Kitts and Nevis’ prime minister, Dr. Terrance Drew, stressed the need for reform and restructuring of the financial landscape. 

With reference to the cycle of debt experienced by SIDS, he argued that, “We are judged by our debt-to-GDP ratio, however, our economies are so small that we cannot move the needle significantly in adapting to climate change and building resilience. The discussion has to be about climate justice. We are not looking for handouts; we are not looking for pity. My argument is about justice. Therefore, the LGBTQI+ community should not be left behind; we should include and help all people.”

Understanding the intersectionalities of gender and climate justice is essential to reforming climate finance mechanisms. Therese Turner-Jones outlined the inadequate metric for women’s leadership in society. She called for alternative meaningful metrics  for women’s leadership, especially in the private sector as they are poised to amplify the climate change agenda. She made a call to action for greater advocacy highlighting the realities of Caribbean people, with messages echoing that, “These are the issues which impact us, especially women and girls who are disproportionately affected.”

Antigua and Barbuda’s agriculture minister, Samantha Marshall, emphasised the importance of the role of data  in leveraging the gender and climate finance discourse and approaches such as gender-responsive budgeting in climate finance disbursements, saying, “Data validates the need for financial support for vulnerable groups and eliminates anecdotal approaches, which have sometimes been the basis on which we operate.”

The event was organised by Caribbean Women in Leadership (CIWiL) in collaboration with the Government of Antigua and Barbuda and the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB). 
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