BUILD FORWARD: IDB governors back $3.5B program to help Caribbean countries recover

BUILD FORWARD: IDB governors back $3.5B program to help Caribbean countries recover

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The Caribbean Governors of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) have backed a $3.5 billion multi-year program to help Caribbean countries sustainably recover while making technological leaps that will bring about a transformational future.

The Build Forward initiative includes a multi-donor facility to provide targeted grant and concessional financing for smart and resilient projects. The facility is expected to mobilize $1.5 billion in resources for a series of activities that include advisory services, project preparation and catalyzing private capital for investments in resilient infrastructure, nature and disaster-risk-based solutions.

IDB management briefed governors about Build Forward ahead of the Annual Meeting of IDB Group, which will take place from March 17 to 21 in a virtual format. Governors are the top decision-makers at the IDB — the Caribbean’s biggest provider of development finance.

Therese Turner-Jones, IDB general manager of the Department of the Caribbean Region, said: “We are thrilled to have donors join our Build Forward initiative, which will prepare the people and places of the Caribbean for the future we create together.

“Build Forward is focused on giving citizens of the Caribbean the opportunity to thrive in the more digital future. It will provide better infrastructure services for all citizens — creating jobs, reducing poverty and bringing much-needed advanced technology into the region.”

At the meeting, IDB President Mauricio Claver-Carone presented his strategic vision for the bank in the 2021-2025 period. Governors were briefed on the human and infrastructure potential of the Caribbean, and on the importance of reforming economic institutions to ensure a sustainable foundation for growth.

Many Caribbean economies have been devastated by a tourism collapse caused by COVID-19, as well as a series of natural disasters. A key part of helping countries grow in ways that benefit all citizens is overcoming large infrastructure investment deficits, estimated at five percent of GDP for Latin America and the Caribbean. The multi-donor facility and other financing mechanisms will help governments finance key resilient investments at a time of limited fiscal space.

Besides the multi-donor facility, Build Forward will provide advisory services and work with countries to implement national investment plans, project banks and project prototypes. It will create strategic options to ensure all investment assets are developed to maximize opportunities and minimize risks from climate change over their lifespan.

It will provide advanced digital-based solutions in areas such as schools and hospitals, grid systems, highways and more. Build Forward will foster partnerships that link private-sector investors to smart, resilient investments that will yield returns and solve a development challenge.

Depending on the need or specific project, Build Forward will dispatch experts in the field, provide training, supply equipment and provide financial assistance.

Build Forward is also aiming to coordinate financing from multiple donors, including those participating in today’s announcement before the governors. It will leverage partnerships with organizations such as the Caribbean Climate Smart Accelerator (CCSA), which is already supporting initiatives to build resilience in the region.

Build Forward will provide the requisite preparation countries need to better withstand the effects of natural disasters. It will facilitate a smoother recovery process with reduced expenses for repairs and rebuilding after natural disasters. Overall, this initiative will minimize related consequences as a direct result of investing in smart and resilient solutions.

The IDB finances operations and provides technical assistance to its six Caribbean member countries: Jamaica, The Bahamas, Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana and Suriname. It also makes funding available through alliances with other Caribbean countries. Through an ongoing agreement with the Caribbean Development Bank, funding will also be made available for nine countries grouped in the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States.