The world, in grappling with the current COVID-19 pandemic, has had a stark reminder of how disasters disproportionally affect the vulnerable.
The disease is having a particularly dramatic impact on families and communities in developing countries that have fewer resources and weaker social safety nets. The COVID-19 economic downturn will differ from previous crises, as many of the sectors overexposed to the collapse in economic activity, such as tourism, absorb a sizeable share of female employment.
The UNDP’s programme, “Enabling Gender-Responsive Disaster Recovery, Climate and Environmental Resilience in the Caribbean” (EnGenDER) has been working with implementing partners, stakeholders and donors over the last year to strengthen disaster risk management systems for 9 Caribbean countries and build resilience to the effects of climate change.
This work is happening at a variety of levels, from improving central government’s ability to build strategies for inclusive approaches to policy making for building resilience; to strengthening regional systems for planning and recovery from natural disasters; to community level interventions to ensure the vulnerable have what they need, so that adaptation and mitigation actions in key livelihood sectors, such as agriculture, consider vulnerable persons.
Based on climate change projections, the people in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines considered particularly vulnerable are those who live in a near poverty situation, households managed by single adults, elderly people, people with disabilities, and people who do not own land. To face the current and predicted climate risks, opportunities to catalyse access to financial resources will significantly contribute to achieving the nations’ single unified goal of creating a resilient nation.
It is within this context that the EnGenDER project has approved Saint Vincent and the Grenadines application to the “Offer of Complementary Funding” which will provide Saint Vincent and the Grenadines with up to US$100,000 to leverage sustainable climate finance from the Green Climate Fund to conduct a detailed environmental and social assessment that will determine the parameters, causes and consequent socio-economic impacts of coastal erosion at Salt Whistle Bay.
“Disasters, catastrophes, reconstruction from rubbles seem to be a lifecycle in the Caribbean. Building back better has been adopted as UNDP’s trademark in recovery and resilience actions. EnGenDER is one of the most powerful instruments supported by Canada and the U.K. to assist Caribbean societies – in particular women – increase their resilience, their capacity to bounce back better. After COVID-19, we need to be prepared for the season. EnGenDER is a preparedness tool that focuses on reducing vulnerabilities. Magdy Martinez Soliman, Resident Representative, UNDP Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean.
“The UK supports this Offer of Complementary Funding to Governments” under the EnGenDER project. It will facilitate access to climate finance for Caribbean countries and support them to strengthen their own disaster risk management systems and resilience to future events, to ensure that no one is left behind, especially those who are most vulnerable.” Stefan Kossoff, Country Director, UK Department of International Development (DFID) Caribbean.
“The Government of Canada is proud to support UNDP in this initiative to help St. Vincent and the Grenadines access much needed climate financing to enable the country to adapt to climate change. Climate change is one of the greatest threats to national development in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. In the past, the state has been impacted by strong hurricanes, longer droughts, and more frequent flash flooding. The effects of crises like these are often greater for women, girls, and other vulnerable groups. As such, we will work with our partners to ensure that sectors affecting these populations remain at the forefront of our development efforts” H.E. Marie Legault, High Commissioner of Canada to Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Barbados and the OECS.
To this end, the complementary funding to Government of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines will assist, in accelerating the closure of the existing climate financing gaps which would contribute to mitigating the negative consequences that the coastal erosion at Salt Whistle Bay will have, particularly on the sustainable livelihoods of women as well the ecology, climate resilience and socio-economic development of the country.
This initiative is one step in ensuring that actions that seemed impossible yesterday are possible today and could be inevitable tomorrow. The current crisis is evidence that humanity can make the paradigm changes needed for a sustainable future.