By Robert A. Emmanuel
Governor of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB), Timothy N.J. Antoine, said that one of his top priorities was the improvement of the bank’s disaster and climate resilience strategies.
At a recent press conference, Governor Antoine told reporters that the Central Bank’s main concern was to resume operations after a hurricane or natural disaster as swiftly as possible.
He stated, “At the Central Bank, we have been looking at ourselves and our disaster and business continuity plans to make sure that we are ready to absorb a hurricane if one comes and be able to resume business in the shortest possible time.
“Don’t forget that we are custodians of the payment system, so if there’s a disaster or there is an imminent hurricane watch or warning, at that point in time, we have to close operations and then we have to resume operations.”
He added that commercial banks in the region should continue their work to improve their disaster risk management strategy.
He noted: “In terms of our licensees or commercial banks, we were very clear that we have to improve disaster business continuity plans in all of our institutions.
“As part of our risk management and our on-site inspection and supervision of our licensees, we have been placing increased attention on the risk management regimes.”
Governor Antoine noted, as an example, the likelihood that servers placed on the ground floor could be more susceptible to water damage from hurricanes.
Governor Antoine also noted some of the changes happening at the Central Bank to improve the bank’s climate resilience.
“In June, you would see us begin to install our solar canopies, which is a part of the grain of the ECCB campus.”
He said that the bank has set a target to become climate neutral by 2022 as part of the advancement of the bank’s moral standing as it relates to combating climate change.
“Why are we doing this? Because we want to have the moral authority and to make the argument globally that we are small, we are the least contributors to climate change but here is what we are doing,” he said, adding that he was disappointed with the lack of action taken by developed countries to reach their targets set in the Paris Climate Accord.
According to the ECCB Strategy Plan 2017 to 2021, “The Eastern Caribbean Currency Union
(ECCU) is experiencing the impact of climate change and global warming, as the frequency and severity of natural disasters, rising sea levels and drought continues to increase.
“The losses from hurricanes, storms and even troughs, estimated at more than 100 percent of GDP in some cases, are huge costs for these small islands.” According to the World Bank, even countries with robust disaster risk management programmes are highly exposed to the economic shocks caused by major disasters.