The following is a speech delivered by ambassador Daniela Tramacere, head of the EU delegation to Barbados, The Eastern Caribbean States, OECS, and CARICOM/CARIFORUM, on Friday 19 June, at the launch of the European Investment Bank and Development Bank of Latin America Financed BWA Water Supply Network Rehabilitation, at Bowmanston Pumping Station, St John, Barbados.
By Daniela Tramacere
This project has been under preparation for several years. We are all aware that Barbados has been facing water shortages, and the reality is that we cannot rely on regular rainfall anymore to keep replenishing the aquifers. In addition, we cannot afford anymore to allow so many losses in the water networks. This lost water increases the overall cost of water for the people of Barbados, and as water has become an increasingly scarce resource, we need to make every effort to preserve it.
This project is particularly special. The European Union has a vision to provide grants and loans together in a financing package so that we can improve the financing conditions that we offer our partner countries. Barbados is a high-income country, but that is of no relevance for the European Union’s eligibility criteria for concessional financing. I am very happy to announce that thanks to a three million Barbados dollar grant, that we have been able to offer concessional financing to the government of Barbados for this critical sector. We are also proud to be able to share our expertise for such a critical sector for the benefit of the people of Barbados.
The European Investment Bank is able to offer such concessional financing for any project that is related to Climate Action. Be that in the Renewable Energy space, or improving resilience to climate change.
I would like to emphasise too that this project complements very closely the work of the European Union in Barbados, and in the region in general. We have put the equivalent of 90 million Barbados dollars into the Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility, to facilitate pay-outs to countries in the event of extreme weather events such as hurricanes, earthquakes, and flooding.
With the recent COVID crisis, we specifically used the equivalent of 22 million Barbados dollars to reduce the premiums that governments need to pay to the Facility. Thus these savings can be made available to boost social programmes in all the countries concerned, including Barbados.
This project is also related to our disaster risk reduction work. After hurricanes Maria and Irma, the European Union has pledged support for reconstruction and disaster risk reduction for an equivalent of $680 million Barbados dollars. We delivered.
Indeed, the European Union supports the countries in the region, and Barbados, in many, many sectors. From trade to human rights, to justice and security, to climate change resilience and private sector development.
Not forgetting, of course, renewable energy and the green energy transformation, which Barbados is pioneering. For instance, we are providing $125 million Barbados dollars of support for green energy for the Eastern Caribbean.
We work with partners such as the World Bank, UNDP, and Caribbean Development Bank, so you may not read about us in the newspapers every day directly. However, please be aware of the extent of our support. In total, the European Union has provided 4.5 billion Barbados dollars to the region in the last five years. All of this is grant money to make life better for the citizens of the region.
Above all, we want to support the integration of the economies of the Caribbean and improve our trade and political links between the Caribbean and the European Union.
Water is the essence of life. Every Barbadian deserves a secure supply of clean water 24 hours a day, 365 days per year. We are proud to support this project with our grants and loans, to offer affordable financing to the people of Barbados, to improve the water supply across the island, and bring water infrastructure up to a modern state across the island, for decades to come.
Finally, it is with sadness in my heart that I need to inform you that in a few weeks I will reach the end of my posting here in beautiful Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean.
I have had four wonderful years here in Barbados, and you have won a place in my heart forever. I will miss you all dearly, but please count on the support of my successor and colleagues to prepare Barbados for the challenges of a changing climate, and to support you through these difficult economic times due to the COVID-19 virus.
We stand in partnership with you.