WASHINGTON, June 23, 2011 — The World Bank Board of Directors approved today a total of US$47.12 million to help the Caribbean states of Grenada and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines to improve the safety of their buildings from the impacts of climate change and increase their public institutions’ capacity to assess natural risks.
The Regional Disaster Vulnerability Reduction Projects will reduce the economic losses due to weak infrastructure, and the risk of loss of life by retrofitting or rebuilding vulnerable structures. Buildings, bridges and urban drainage, for example, are prone to a high-risk of structural failure due to hurricanes, earthquakes and floods.
In order to improve decision-making for reducing climate change vulnerability, the program will support the creation of a regional backbone technology infrastructure that will allow countries and regional technical entities to collaborate on risk evaluations.
"This project fits in well with the overall development policy framework of the Government and will provide a structure for analyzing and integrating natural hazard risks. In addition, it will allow national policy makers to better plan physical development and implement climate adaptation measures," said Laura Anthony-Browne, Director of Planning for the Government of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.
The impact of climate change is already being felt in the Caribbean. The small island economies are highly vulnerable to natural hazards because of their size, geography, and location. Climate shocks are severely affecting development prospects. In the Eastern Caribbean, natural disasters account, on average, for almost 20 percent of the variation of real GDP growth every year.
Rehabilitating vulnerable infrastructure is part of a sub-regional program to benefit the entire Eastern Caribbean through a partnership between the countries, the World Bank, and the Climate Investment Funds (CIF). A significant portion of the funds come from the CIF’s Pilot Program for Climate Resilience (PPCR) that is geared toward vulnerable countries and small island developing states. The PPCR was set up in 2008 as a collaborative effort among five multilateral development banks to help bridge the gap in financing and learning for climate change action.
News of the funding approval comes as CIF stakeholders from more than 45 countries are convening in Cape Town, South Africa, this week to assess progress on investments like this and explore ways to scale-up the CIFs’ and banks’ impact on climate change readiness.
“Reducing the region’s vulnerability to natural events will increase these countries’ competitiveness and stimulate economic growth. Hurricanes, flooding, and sea level surge cause major economic damage and result in substantial public expenditures and debt. It most definitely costs less to prevent than to reconstruct,” said Françoise Clottes, World Bank Director for the Caribbean.
Grenada will receive a total of US$26.2 million, including a US$10 million zero-interest credit from the World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA) repayable in 35 years with a 10-year grace period; an US$8 million grant from the Caribbean Regional Pilot Program for Climate Resilience (PPCR); and an US$8.2 million zero-interest PPCR loan repayable in 40 years with a 10-year grace period.
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines will receive a total of US$20.92 million, including a US$10.92 million zero-interest credit from IDA repayable in 35 years with a 10-year grace period; a US$7 million grant from PPCR; and a US$3 million zero-interest loan from PPCR repayable in 40 years with a 10-year grace period.
The PPCR aims to pilot and demonstrate ways in which climate risk and resilience may be integrated into core development planning and implementation. This regional project is the first PPCR investment to be approved under the Caribbean program and its innovation in bringing climate adaptation and disaster risk management has lessons for future PPCR investments.