PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad – At the closing of the 49th annual meeting of the Caribbean Development Bank’s (CDB) Board of Governors, President Dr Warren Smith highlighted the way forward to fulfil the promise of a sustainable future and prosperity in the region.
The CDB president noted the region was facing new external threats, which arose from the ill-effects of globalisation and are occurring alongside age-old challenges, such as natural hazards. While globalisation has pulled millions of people out of poverty, it has resulted in growing inequality in many developed countries, leading to a rise in populism, increasing protectionism and a potential slowdown in global growth.
Among the key elements to move the region forward into the future, president Smith said: “Digital transformation is indispensable. It will change the way we live, consume and produce. Harnessing digital power is equivalent to securing our future. We must put our youth in the driver’s seat and at the centre through high quality and equal access to education.”
The CDB president also attached high priority to micro, small and medium-sized enterprises and the role of development institutions like CDB, provide the right incentives so that fledgling entities can find their feet, mature and flourish.
“The private sector, particularly the micro, small and medium-sized enterprises, has to be crowded into the development narrative in a way that is sustainable,” Smith said. “This cycle must be repeated until we have a critical size market that demonstrates dynamism and competitiveness.”
CDB president also harnessed the need to safeguard the environment while enabling economic dynamism: The planet has to be protected. Green growth that is inclusive is not an option but a necessity,” Smith said. “Responding to climate change presents immense challenges and opportunities for development, making it essential that climate and development issues be tackled in an integrated way,” he highlighted.
Smith announced that CDB would increase its funding and build partners to make more resources available for climate change projects and initiatives.