Roofs to Reefs plan of Barbados

Barbados is an island nation located in the Atlantic Ocean and belongs to the Caribbean group of countries. As a tropical country that is located in a zone witnessing frequent storms, Barbados is no stranger to natural disasters, just like many other vulnerable countries across the world.

The current Prime Minister of Barbados and the first female leader of the country, Mia Mottley has been vocal about green climate measures and her speech at the United Nations climate conference held in November epitomized her as a champion of climate change reforms.

An applaudable initiative in this regard is the ‘Roofs to Reefs’ initiative which is an all-together approach that sees the entire country’s climate needs under a single scope. For example, the ‘Roofs to Reefs’ programme of Barbados is designed to enhance the ability of the low- and middle-income families to effectively overcome the climate extremities. It also takes into account the policies for the sustainable development and interventions required to develop a greener economy. To achieve this, Barbados intends to make the adaptation and mitigation policies attractive to the private players. Speaking at a webinar, the Minister for Economic Affairs, Masha Caddle said that the targeted resilient projects will have good returns for the private investors. She also said that Barbados intends to rank and rate the projects in terms of its climate adaptability and rate of returns. She also added that Barbados will soon release the “growth and resilience bonds” for better private investments in adaptation projects.

The entire government approach intends to make sure that the individual homes in Barbados are also integrated into the broad policy measures. Like ocean restoration and reef-friendly measures, or Barbados’ commitment to reducing ependency on fossil fuels, disaster mitigation approaches, or shifting to electric vehicles; the ‘Reefs to Roofs’ will form the overarching framework for the government policies.

The initiative by Barbados is small but it has greater implications especially on the determinants that shape policies in larger countries across the globe. Island countries are acutely aware of the disasters that climate change is already bringing to humanity’s doorstep. The mitigation measures and adaptation projects are not cheap. Managing development aspirations of the populations while also trying to get a larger share of the ethical private investments is a tough task, especially for the developing countries that face regular climate extremes. Highlighting this point, Caddle pointed to Dominica that lost over twice its GDP worth to Hurricane Maria in just a day.

In this regard, the initiatives of the United Nations like Green funds, solar alliance, Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI), etc. are important. CDRI is a dedicated grouping of the UN, national governments, civil groups, multilateral banks and private sector to address the infrastructure demands for climate-friendly and disaster mitigation risks.

One of the programmes to aid the Reef to Roof programme is the ‘Infrastructure for Resilient Island States’ (IRIS) which was recently launched at COP26 in partnership with CDRI and Small Island Developing States (SIDS) representatives. At the launch of IRIS, the PM of India, Narendra Modi said, “through IRIS, it will be easy for SIDS to mobilize technology, finance and necessary information faster. Promotion of quality infrastructure in Small Island States will benefit both lives and livelihoods there.”

Interlinking of policies across the developing countries to enable shared learning and a combined approach to the market is important since the issue of climate change threat is a collective one. Developing countries lack finance mechanisms but the scope of their growth combined with the large depth of the opportunities must be leveraged. But doing that will require policy coherence especially to present problems in finance availability at the global stage and coordinating a joint response at the United Nations.

Photo Credit : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mia_Mottley#/media/File:2019_Mia_Mottley_(cropped).jpg