CDB Governors put the environment, gender and private sector growth in the spotlight at Annual Meeting

As the 47th Annual Meeting of the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) closed on Friday in Providenciales, the institution’s Governors identified environmental sustainability, gender equality and private sector growth as key priorities for the Region. They also challenged CDB to pursue bold and transformative social and economic change that can make a tangible difference to the lives and livelihoods of Caribbean people.

During the Meeting, held May 24 to 25, 2017, Governors received an update on critical operational developments that could have implications on CDB’s day-to-day management, and considered strategic shifts that could enhance the Bank’s effectiveness and responsiveness to its borrowing member countries (BMCs).

Governors noted the acute environmental vulnerability of the Region and urged CDB to continue to play an important role in helping its BMCs build resilience. President Dr. William Warren Smith said CDB’s commitment to this role was evidenced during the Meeting, at which CDB signed an agreement with the European Investment Bank (EIB) for the second Climate Action Line of Credit.

CDB President, Dr. Wm. Warren Smith, addresses delegates during the closing ceremony of the Bank’s 47th Annual Meeting in Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands.

“This will facilitate increased climate proofing of critical infrastructure in the Caribbean. The Line of Credit for Euro 100 million is the largest single loan made by EIB in our Region. We are very encouraged by the strong statement of confidence in CDB that this line represents,” the President said in his closing statement.

He also noted CDB’s partnership with CCRIF SPC on the Integrated Sovereign Risk Management Project, which aims to enhance the countries’ ability to take account of the full spectrum of risks they face and make adjustments to their risk management strategies.

The Bank’s Governors also highlighted the importance of elevating gender as a core development priority within the context of the Sustainable Development Goal 5. Under the United Nations’ 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, Governments, including those of the Bank’s member countries, have committed to achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls.

“We continue to make significant strides in achieving gender-related development outcomes. The percentage of projects that have been gender-mainstreamed is almost 100%; and a large portion of infrastructure projects now include gender components that screen for differential gender impacts,” said Smith.

Private sector operations also received considerable attention from Governors, aligning with CDB’s position that private sector growth must be a cornerstone of Caribbean development.

The President noted the Bank’s work to identify and tackle impediments to business development, including collaborating with development partners, including the Inter-American Development Bank through the Compete Caribbean project. CDB, he mentioned, is also supporting reforms that improve customs logistics, and ultimately reduce the cost of doing business.

In his reply to Governors’ statements, the President said that expansion of the Bank’s membership, both borrowing and non-borrowing, could deepen CDB’s impact through funds such as its Special Development Fund (SDF), which is the largest pool of concessionary resources. Through the SDF, the Bank tackles deep-seated poverty in some of its most vulnerable BMCs.

“New BMCs will have the effect of increasing support for the SDF, and augmenting capital while providing portfolio diversification opportunities. New non-BMCs, which are investment grade, would also expand the callable capital base and undergird the Bank’s market rating,” he noted.

Smith also urged the Governors to think about wider issues that could stymie the pace of membership expansion.

“Within this context, we must think about how we, as a Region, can look outward even as large countries look inward. For me, this will undoubtedly determine how we go forward. These times require us to be bold and ambitious. Harnessing the future requires us to shed some of the inaction of the past,” he said.

During the closing ceremony, the Chairmanship of the Board of Governors was handed over from the Turks and Caicos Islands to Grenada, where the 2018 Annual Meeting will be hosted. Germany and Mexico will serve as Vice-Chairs of the Bank’s Board of Governors.