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UN chief calls for innovative thinking to tackle "perfect storm" in Caribbean

Jul 22, 2021

United Nations, July 22: UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Wednesday called for innovative thinking to tackle the "perfect storm" in the Caribbean as a result of COVID-19 and climate disruptions.
Last year, the economy of the Caribbean contracted by nearly 8 percent, with tourism-dependent countries experiencing a decline of nearly 20 percent or more. This aggravates an already high debt burden and debt service costs, constraining the fiscal space and threatening the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals. But the Caribbean is confronting another existential challenge: the increasingly destructive effects of extreme weather events and climate disruption, said Guterres.
"The combined effects of the pandemic and climate change have created the conditions for an epic 'perfect storm.' This multidimensional crisis requires innovative thinking in a number of areas," he said in a video message for the opening session of the 11th Caribbean Community-UN General Meeting.
First, the COVID-19 virus -- and its multiplying variants -- can only be defeated through an equitable distribution of vaccines, he said.
Second, the international community must urgently help countries in dire financial distress tackle both short and medium-term debt and liquidity challenges. That means expanding debt relief, issuing additional Special Drawing Rights to developing countries, and tackling long-standing weaknesses in the international debt architecture, he said.
Third, financial and technical support to confront the effects of climate change is essential. Developed countries must meet their commitments, including their pledge to mobilize 100 billion U.S. dollars annually for climate action in developing countries, he said.
"Adaptation, which is vital for many small states' survival, currently only represents 20 percent of climate funding, and I once again call on donors and development banks to increase the share of adaptation and resilience finance to at least 50 percent of their climate finance," he said.
Source: Xinhua