I am delighted to welcome to Pure Grenada-the Spice Isle of the Caribbean, all the delegates and observers attending the 48th Annual Meeting of the Board of Governors of the Caribbean Development Bank. I also express pleasure in acceding to the Chairmanship of the Bank’s Board of Governors 2018 Annual Meeting.
The Annual Meeting is occurring at a time of unprecedented global economic, political, social and environmental changes, which present both potential challenges and opportunities to the Caribbean’s collective advancement.
Indeed, 2017 was an acutely challenging year for the Caribbean, marked by the passage of two of the most powerful hurricanes on record, which wreaked mind-boggling devastation to several Caribbean countries and caused many deaths. The damages inflicted by hurricanes Maria and Irma brought to the fore the daunting reality that climate change poses an existential threat to our humanity.
The year’s Meeting aptly focuses on the multi-dimensional perspectives of resilience in the context of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda and appropriate strategies for resilience building and transformational change. Indeed, building the region’s resilience to climate change, natural hazards and environmental changes is not only a necessary and urgent development imperative, but it is also a fundamental requirement to ensure our basic survival as a people. We have no choice as a region but to pursue climate-smart development, as we forge ahead to build a climate-resilient Caribbean.
The Caribbean Development Bank is well placed to lead the region’s efforts towards a resilient and prosperous Caribbean. Indeed, it is the region’s sole indigenous development institution with an important mandate that remains as relevant for the current moment as it was nearly half a century ago when the Bank was established.
I look forward to the regional dialogue over the next few days. As we discuss the contemporary development issues that our countries face, and as we devise responses to address them, we must be mindful that these are not ordinary times, and, as such, ordinary solutions would not suffice. Therefore, this year’s Annual Meeting cannot be business as usual.
I trust that through the meetings, seminars and the caucus of Governors, you will leave with a renewed sense of collective resolve to accelerate the achievement of a more resilient Caribbean. I also trust that you will leave reenergised having enjoyed the warm hospitality and breathtaking beauty of Pure Grenada.
Dr. the Right Honourable Keith C. Mitchell
Prime Minister and Minister of Finance
Dr. Wm. Warren Smith, President, Caribbean Development Bank
This year’s Annual Meeting will embrace the theme “Resilience”. The theme is anchored in the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda and the commitment by the Caribbean Development Bank’s borrowing member countries (BMCs) along with other United Nations’ member countries to pursue 17 Sustainable Development Goals to end all forms of poverty, fight inequalities and tackle climate change by 2030, while ensuring that no one is left behind.
The goal to end poverty must go hand-in-hand with the pursuit of strategies that build resilience to climate change and other external vulnerabilities. Our BMCs operate in a zone that is ranked as the second highest in the world in terms of climate vulnerability and is characterised by more intense and destructive meteorological systems. Most recently, two back-to-back hurricanes in 2017 caused damage estimated at 225% of gross domestic product (GDP) in Dominica; and more than 300% of GDP in the British Virgin Islands as well as significant infrastructure damage and loss of life in other affected BMCs.
The 2018 Annual Meeting Programme, therefore, seeks to explore the multi-dimensional perspectives of “resilience” in the context of the 2030 Development Agenda; and appropriate strategies for “resilience building” and transformational change to solve the Caribbean’s major development challenges.
We wish to express our gratitude to the Government and people of Grenada for hosting this year’s Annual Meeting and we look forward to seeing you in Grenada.
Wm. Warren Smith, Ph.D., CD