Securing debt relief in the Caribbean can open avenues for financing the region’s future.
Fifteen civil society organisations (CSOs) from fourteen CARIFORUM countries have pledged their commitment to support education and awareness on this important issue during a meeting of the Caribbean (Civil Society) Consultative Working Group (CCWG) which convened recently in Grenada. Established by the Caribbean Policy Development Centre (CPDC), the CCWG was created as a mechanism to enhance the policy engagement between Caribbean Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and their respective governments.
Through their discussions, the group came to a consensus that debt relief could allow for the freeing up of fiscal space for addressing key development and human rights concerns in the region and ease the burdens accrued by debt obligations onto the population. Furthermore, members emphasized the importance of transparency on debt-related decision-making, including all relevant information on new loans taken by governments, and the intended impacts on communities.
At the same time, good governance principles and participatory decision-making by citizens must be enshrined in state processes to ensure resources allocated for the people redound to their benefit, the group asserted. This becomes particularly important in times of austerity, compounded by the realities of climate change. As a result, the CCWG explored the idea of climate finance, and the idea of reparations to deal with the threats of the climate crisis. In order to sustain this movement, the CCWG has underscored the need for capacity building in areas of understanding the regional debt landscape and how our government’s debt commitments impact everyone’s daily lives. Furthermore, financial management is a major hurdle for CSOs, particularly for those interested in climate change, as their inability to pass these checks from funders can impact meaningful engagement. The challenge lies in the fact that most NGOs are very small and do not meet the minimum qualifying criteria to be able to access the resources available.