Photo: Mia Mottley, Prime Minister, Barbados
by Marco Lopez
BELIZE CITY, Wed. Jan. 31, 2024
On Friday, January 26, the CARICOM Development Fund (CDF) launched the new CARICOM Resilience Fund in partnership with the United States. Six key sectors will receive support in the form of debt and equity investments. These areas include renewable energy, clean transport, blue economy, sustainable agriculture, information and communication technology, and finance services.
A ceremony to mark the launch took place in Bridgetown, Barbados, where Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley commended the CDF for taking the bold step to establish the fund. The Caribbean region, with Belize “in the heart of the Caribbean basin”, is at the frontline of climate impacts fueled by ever-rising greenhouse gas emissions.
The assistance provided through the fund should help the region build resilience in the face of climate change through investments in resilience-focused small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and critical infrastructure projects.
US Ambassador Roger Nyhus said in comments at the launch that the fund “symbolizes not just an allocation of resources, but a promise—a promise to invest in innovative solutions, technologies, and strategies that will fortify our societies against the changing climate patterns. It will contribute to preparing Caribbean countries to mitigate and adapt to adverse economic shocks, in particular those related to climate.”
This integrated and transformative vehicle will hopefully offer investors attractive social and economic returns on investments geared toward building economic and climate resilience in the Caribbean.
“It crowds in resources from the private sector, International Financial Institutions, pension funds, corporates, philanthropic funds, and others, and is an innovation that helps to address the gap in readily accessible and affordable financing options for building resilience in the region,” the chief executive officer of the CDF, Rodinald Soomer said at the launch.
Sygnus Capital was appointed as the manager of the CARICOM Resilience Fund. The Caribbean-based investment firm actively manages three funds throughout the region and over US$450 million in assets. This firm brings a deep regional perspective that will drive project selection and investment engagement, according to the CDF. Sygnus Capital will partner with the Rocky Mountain Institute Island Energy Program to source and evaluate energy and climate projects in the region.
PM Mottley said, “We will go to heads of Government and to the broader region to encourage others to invest in this vital facility that is being established to help finance adaptation and mitigation projects in the eastern and southern Caribbean, and hopefully there will be interest in the entire Caribbean. Because, if we do not have multiple sources of funding up to scale, we simply will not meet the race to be viable, insurable, and liveable.”
She continued, “I, therefore, want to encourage others here today to join in the effort, if there is interest on the part, not just of other governments, but of private sector entities or institutional entities, who would wish to be part of this capital.”
According to the Climate Finance Strategy of Belize 2021-2026, a climate finance gap of USD 1.645 billion is estimated for Belize after accounting for the already mobilized resources. All the climate finance that flows to Belize will help to mitigate the country’s climate risk. According to the World Bank, Belize is ranked 8th out of 167 countries for climate risk.