Former US President Bill Clinton was a special guest at the conference

Over US$2-billion were pledged for Caribbean countries affected by Hurricanes Maria and Irma at a CARICOM-UN High-level Pledging Conference, which took place at the UN Headquarters in New York this week.

According to a UN report, there were over US$1.3 billion in pledges and over $1 billion in loans and debt relief.

Support was derived from nearly 400 high-level representatives from governments, multilateral and civil society organizations and the private sector that attended the event to help countries build back better as the first climate resilient countries in the world.

According to latest estimates, recovery cost surpasses US$5-billion in the wake of the two devastating hurricanes.

CARICOM Secretary-General, Irwin LaRocque said the task of rebuilding is beyond the affected countries.

“The magnitude of reconstruction will require significant levels of financing which we are unable to generate on our own. Countries are highly indebted, with limited access to financing due to their middle-income status,” he said. “The task is beyond us.”

In Dominica, Hurricane Maria decimated decades of development gains, impacting over 200 percent of the island state’s GDP. Poverty levels risk rising above 60 percent. Nearly 60 percent of damages relate to housing and transportation infrastructure, with recovery costs estimated at around US$1.3 billion.

“We have the goal of rebuilding Dominica as the world’s first climate-resilient country,” Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit, who attended the conference, said. “It’s an existential matter for us; it’s the only way forward.”

In Barbuda, damages surpass US$130 million with recovery needs of over $220 million, according to the latest post-Irma assessment.

Responding to the urgent needs, over US$1.35 billion were pledged by established partners and new ones.

Estimated amounts in US$:
$702-million from The Netherlands;
$352-million from the European Union;
$140-million from the World Bank;
$78-million from Canada;
$30-million from China;
$27-million from Mexico;
$12-million from Italy;
$4.3-million from the United States;
$4-million from Japan;
$1-million from Kuwait;
$2-million from India;
$1-million from Venezuela;
$1.2-million from Belgium;
$1-million from Chile;
$500,000 from Denmark;
$300,000 from Colombia;
$250,000 from Haiti;
US$ 250,000 from New Zealand;
$200,000 from Brazil;
$150,000 from Kazakhstan;
$100,000 from Romania;
$100,000 from Portugal;
$20,000 from Serbia