NASSAU, BAHAMAS- Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest yesterday urged the Commonwealth Secretariat to extend its work to better address challenges faced by Small island Developing States (SIDS) in light of the climate crisis.
Turnquest addressed a meeting of Commonwealth Ministers of Finance in Washington, DC yesterday.
He expressed gratitude on behalf of The Bahamas for the many expressions of empathy and support to The Bahamas from the Commonwealth Secretariat and fellow Commonwealth nations in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian.
Several member countries provided in kind and cash donations to the relief effort, which Turnquest underscored were being “utilized strictly to provide relief to those now homeless and jobless, and as a result vulnerable to many social and financial risks”.
Turnquest emphasized the government’s commitment to continued accountability and transparency in the handling of Hurricane Dorian related donations.
“It is the government’s commitment to ensure continued accountability and transparency in this regard as we reach out for further global support to address this recovery challenge and to face the daunting task of making tangible steps to implement the resilience lessons learned from this experience,” said Turnquest.
During the meeting, Turnquest raised several critical issues pertaining to the vulnerability of Small Island Developing States (SIDS), pushing the Secretariat to extend its work to better address the challenges faced by small fiscally vulnerable states like The Bahamas in light of the climate crisis.
He said: “In this regard the promotion of Green Bonds, Social Bonds and other financing options to address climate resilience in particular, is critical and useful as is the need to reassess the categorization of high income/highly vulnerable Small Island Developing States (SIDS).
“It is also critical to address in a real way the challenges posed by risk evaluations of SIDS and off shore financial centers. The effects of which goes further than just tax transparency and tax competition, to real risk to financial stability of member states and access to correspondent bank relationships and cross border trade on which we
Turnquest continued: “Adjustments must be made to protocols to ensure that unfair and negative risk assessments that cannot be reasonably mitigated without creating another more predictive disaster, one of financial collapse due to a lack of competitiveness of otherwise stable countries, is minimized.
“Climate refugees and internal and external migration is also an area that requires urgent attention and thought. Our recent experience shows that quite apart from economic migration, which we are familiar with in our region, disasters are posing a new risk and burden on neighboring states.
He added: “Protocols and who, what and where considerations must now make its way onto the front page of climate risk considerations as these realities become more and more relevant.”