PM Browne leaves parting message at COP28

PM Browne with COP28 delegates
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Prime Minister Gaston Browne used his final day at COP28 in Dubai to whip up support for the Multidimensional Vulnerability Index (MVI), which has commanded his attention for the past year as co-chair of a high level panel seeking its adoption at the level of the United Nations.

The MVI will help to reduce the overwhelming barriers that island nations are forced to overcome in accessing the concessionary financing needed to deal with the various external impacts that can immobilise their fragile economies.

After several months of widespread consultation with experts and stakeholders, Prime Minister Browne and members of the panel presented and launched the MVI at the annual meetings of the IMF and the World Bank in Morocco in October.

The Prime Minister then used his presence at the UN climate summit to speak to supporting partners and key interests about the positive benefits of the MVI for developing nations like Antigua and Barbuda.

At a side event, co-hosted by the government of Antigua and Barbuda, the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, and the United Nations Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries, and Small Island Developing States, Browne expressed confidence that the MVI will earn the support of the UN’s member territories.

“The MVI can show us that while all countries are vulnerable to a degree, some, namely small island states such as mine, struggle disproportionately to recover after exposure,” he explained.

The MVI, Browne stressed, can help direct support to countries that need it most. In pointing out the scientific findings to his audience he outlined the clear advantages of the MVI, noting that “SIDS have long professed to be the most vulnerable country grouping and the numbers do not lie”.

“And if there is safety to be had in numbers, the MVI is about putting clear and robust data behind a previously amorphous concept,” he added.

Leading world economist Dr Jeffrey Sachs pointed to the importance of the MVI as it pertains to access to concessional financing for vulnerable countries, and said he sees the MVI as an essential element in bringing reform to the international financial architecture. 

Meanwhile, Dr Tom Mitchell, Executive Director of the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), who was a panellist at the event, also lent support to the MVI as a tool for achieving debt sustainability for small states like Antigua and Barbuda. 

Prime Minister Browne’s vision for the MVI was a ground-breaking tool built to take into account the very current and future realities of an increasingly challenging world, especially for small island states.

“We have already seen the historic agreement of a loss and damage fund at this COP and not a moment too soon. The MVI can be a possible tool and an evidence-based measure to assist in the administration of the loss and damage fund,” he stated.

“It can further spur the development of insurance and compensation schemes that may be our last hope when the waters rise,” Prime Minister Browne added.

He issued a fresh appeal for everyone to place their full support behind the MVI as an important tool to help island nations face the grave impacts of the climate crisis.

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