Blog by Sasha Jattansingh, Commonwealth National Climate Finance Advisor to Antigua and Barbuda and Nadia Spencer-Henry, Debt Manager, Government of Antigua and Barbuda

Small Island Developing States (SIDS) are a special case for sustainable development and climate action because of the acute challenges they face. SIDS tend to share unique structural constraints that are often beyond their control, including small populations, remoteness from markets, high transaction costs and vulnerability to climate change – even if they bear few of them. or no liability.

Their economies are small, undiversified and generally highly dependent on a single sector such as tourism. Often this is combined with a narrow revenue base that limits fiscal space for capital investment, leading to high debt levels. These challenges have become more acute in the face of external shocks like the current COVID-19 pandemic.

The scale of their structural problems means that the existing resources and capacities of SIDS are insufficient to overcome these economic and climatic challenges. Thus, SIDS are particularly dependent on official development assistance (ODA) or international aid to build their resilience and support sustainable development. In addition, access to and availability of adequate and sustainable climate finance is a priority for SIDS to address the impacts of climate change and to meet their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) or national climate commitments. climate change under the Paris Agreement.

In this blog, we explain how Antigua and Barbuda was able to access climate finance as a small island developing state. While the country is no longer eligible for ODA, having recently “graduated” from lower-middle-income country status, climate finance remains essential to help address the inherent vulnerabilities and challenges it continues to face. to be confronted.

Antigua and Barbuda’s approach to accessing climate finance

  1. A strategic approach

Antigua and Barbuda has always been a leader in global climate action. He currently chairs the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) and also holds the SIDS seat on the board of the Green Climate Fund (GCF). The country’s approach to accessing climate finance is multifaceted and based on a comprehensive consideration of national development priorities and its updated and ambitious NDC targets.

The country has developed a comprehensive set of climate projects, programs and actions and determined financing needs and sustainable development co-benefits. This is highlighted in its draft NDC implementation plan and GCF country program. The country has a resource mobilization strategy that integrates different sources of climate finance, including multilateral bodies like the GCF, the Adaptation Fund (AF) and the Global Environment Facility (GEF). The government also accesses resources from bilateral, private sector and philanthropic sources and makes annual allocations from its budget.

As such, Antigua and Barbuda has developed a strong climate finance pipeline that is directly aligned with its updated NDC. Antigua and Barbuda is also accredited with the AF and GCF, which positions the country well to expand access to climate finance.

  1. Take advantage of technical support

Antigua and Barbuda continued to mobilize technical assistance from various partners, which strengthened the necessary institutional, policy and regulatory frameworks and increased capacity to improve access to climate finance. For years, the Commonwealth Secretariat has been a key partner for technical assistance through its Commonwealth Climate Finance Access Center (CCFAH), integrating a Commonwealth Climate Finance National Adviser into the Department of Environment. The Advisor currently supports and leads the development of proposals, including support for accreditation, and provides technical support for the development of strategic policies and programs for increased access to climate finance.

The country has also benefited from the NDC partnership through the Climate Action Enhancement Package (CAEP) project which supported the development of the updated NDC and draft NDC Implementation Plan to map mitigation, adaptation and finance activities climate change, timelines, indicators and estimated costs. The NDC partnership also supported the integration of climate objectives into the country’s national macroeconomic planning and facilitated the appointment of a macroeconomic adviser within the Ministry of Finance.

Additionally, Antigua and Barbuda has used the GCF readiness program to build institutional and technical capacity to access and mobilize climate finance over the years. More recently, the Multi-Year Readiness (MYR) project was launched to develop priority concept notes previously identified in its GCF country program.

  1. Flexible financial systems

Robust and flexible financial mechanisms are also important to enable SIDS to easily access and mobilize climate finance from global to local levels, in order to build climate resilience. Antigua and Barbuda established the Sustainable Island Resources Framework (SIRF) Fund – the country’s national environmental fund – which can program climate finance from international and bilateral sources as well as national sources such as taxes, levies and fees. It is accessible to the public sector, civil society, the private sector and community groups.

The SIRF Fund is unique because it acts as an intermediary to channel international climate finance funds to local and vulnerable communities through grants, loans and equity. One of the projects channeled through the Fund is the regional project Enhanced Direct Access (EDA) GCF-funded project. The EDA project covers three countries – Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada and Dominica, with a focus on women, single mothers and economically vulnerable people.

  1. Debt-for-climate swaps

Antigua and Barbuda is currently researching debt-for-climate swaps as an innovative financing mechanism that allows creditors to cancel or discount national debt and instead direct debt payments towards financing for climate action. The country, with funding from the Open Society Foundations, is undertaking the ‘Financing for Climate Action in the Eastern Caribbean’ (FACE) on behalf of AOSIS, to examine debt-climate considerations for SIDS.

Key findings include the need to manage the expectations of borrowers, creditors and climate financiers regarding debt-for-climate swap instruments. For example, donors typically focus on technical assistance for climate action while creditors are primarily interested in debt repayment. Strong frameworks to ensure that climate finance, borrowers and creditors are on the same page are essential. Debt-for-climate swaps should solve the debt problem and free up resources to fund critical climate change adaptation and mitigation interventions.

In conclusion, Antigua and Barbuda supports innovative financing mechanisms to secure additional financing for climate change adaptation and mitigation. Although the challenge remains great and the financial flows do not reflect the level of need, it is important that SIDS use the available financing channels, increase their capacity to access and advocate with the international community for adequate flows, taking into account the commitments of the Paris Agreement.

Visit the Commonwealth Climate Finance Access Center

Media contact

Josephine Latu-Sanft Senior Communications Officer, Communications Division, Commonwealth Secretariat

+44 20 7747 6476 | E-mail


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