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What small island nations – like Saint Lucia – need to survive and thrive in the post-pandemic world

Hendricks Matthew

May. 21, 2020

Developing countries, including Small Island Developing States (SIDS) like Saint Lucia, are especially vulnerable to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. A fundamental shift in the development finance ecosystem is required to help small island nations cope and build resilience. The Country Financing Roadmap initiative will help countries unlock capital and invest in recovery.
Countries around the world are grappling with the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the devastating socioeconomic impacts are apparent as governments struggle to protect the health and well-being of citizens and respond effectively to rising unemployment and the drastic economic downturn.
The most vulnerable are the developing countries that do not always have the necessary resources and capacity to cope with the impact of a pandemic.
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In response to this drastic shift in our daily lives and the adverse impact on the global economic system, it is equally imperative to have a fundamental shift in the development finance ecosystem. Many of the most vulnerable developing countries, including Small Island Developing States (SIDS), may not be able to endure and recover from this crisis in the absence of adequate development finance support.
Saint Lucia, like other SIDS, is extremely vulnerable to these new global circumstances. SIDS have long faced significant challenges inherent, but not limited to, their small size and geography, that persistently threaten their sustainability. Their inability to access concessionary financing to build necessary resilience to the natural and economic shocks that are beyond their domestic control results in extremely high debt levels. These unique challenges exacerbate acute exposure both to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as to any natural disasters that may occur during the upcoming hurricane season, leaving these countries in a gravely disadvantaged position.
"Given the limited resources at our disposal, we will not be able to adequately respond, recover and safeguard our population without coordinated international support.” —Allen Chastanet, Prime Minister of Saint Lucia
Robust multilateral cooperation and the strong support of the international community are essential to enable the most vulnerable developing countries, such as SIDS, to respond and recover. However, the worst is yet to come.
Currently, in order to suppress the transmission of COVID-19 cases, Saint Lucia (like many analogous countries) has been forced to close its borders and enforce strict physical distancing measures – necessary actions that have nonetheless resulted in the considerable disruption of supply chains, trade in goods and services and daily function of businesses, and led to extraordinary unemployment. Tourism – the main driver of the economy – has been crippled, while many other companies on the island are struggling to stay in business. This stark reality is further compounded by the fact that Caribbean countries are about to move into the hurricane season, significantly more vulnerable and exposed than ever before.
The answer to the crisis: building resilience. Going back to 'business as usual' would expose those countries to further shocks. Governments and other public stakeholders must collaborate with the private sector to identify the best way forward. By recognizing and prioritizing opportunities that set countries on a path to resilience, aligning their national goals to the SDGs and identifying how the private sector can support this course of action, governments will be able to attract the investments they need to create an economy that will be more stable, inclusive and sustainable in the long term.
For Small Island Developing Nations (SIDS), the only answer to this crisis is to build resilience. —Thierry Déau, CEO of Meridiam
Saint Lucia is strengthening its partnership with the World Economic Forum to transition to a more resilient and diversified economy. The cornerstone of the partnership is the Country Financing Roadmap, an initiative of the Sustainable Development Investment Partnership (SDIP) to provide a platform for public and private stakeholder collaboration to mobilize finance and scale investments for the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The COVID-19 Action Platform steered businesses toward the collective action necessary for the immediate response. With the same commitment, we are engaging with national governments through the Country Financing Roadmaps to support them during this crisis. —Terri Toyota, World Economic Forum Executive Committee
The Country Financing Roadmaps initiative will help countries identify new sources of capital that can be deployed to address the impacts of COVID-19 and invest in the immediate response, while also building the foundations for a better recovery. The solution to this crisis lies in a collaborative response that includes both the private and public sectors, with a common shared vision.
The objective of the Country Financing Roadmaps is to unlock capital flows and develop effective, appropriate and national solutions to the crisis, which can be replicated not only across all SIDS, but also in other developing countries.
The world now finds itself in an uncharted territory – one where individual, country-level responses will only result in partial and short-term solutions to the pandemic’s global and complex challenges. This moment demands true solidarity and meaningful partnerships that generate action during and after the crisis – and that build more equitable, inclusive and sustainable economies and societies that are more resilient in the face of pandemics, climate change and other global challenges.
This article originally appeared on Forbes.com.
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