Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis.
By Leandra Rolle
NEARLY 300 local and international delegates, including representatives of governments, multilateral agencies and financial institutions will convene at Baha Mar Convention Centre today for the widely anticipated Hurricane Dorian Pledging Conference.
The conference will mobilise recovery financing while the country’s reconstruction and recovery efforts are expected to get a boost at the event which is organised by the government in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis heads the list of attending dignitaries who will be joined by other representatives of government. Others in attendance will be Luis Felipe López-Calva, United Nations assistant secretary general and UNDP’s regional director for the Latin American and Caribbean region; and Denise E Antonio, UNDP resident representative for The Bahamas, Jamaica, Belize, Bermuda, Cayman Islands and Turks and Caicos Islands. There will also be representation from the diplomatic corps and international organisations.
Last night, Katherine Forbes-Smith, managing director of the Bahamas Disaster Reconstruction Authority, could not put a monetary value on the pledges the country will receive.
“When it comes to money, there’s no limit,” Ms Smith told The Tribune. “We’re not trying to limit ourselves in what we can get from our donors and the other thing that’s very important too, this pledging conference is not just about the money itself, what’s important is also the technical support that people are pledging. As you are aware, the Bahamas has never been in this situation, so the money is wonderful, support is also wonderful, that’s very important.”
A number of high-level commitments consistent with the government’s stated priorities are expected, a government press release noted. Representation has been confirmed from several governments, financial institutions such as the Caribbean Development Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB), several United Nations agencies, funds and programmes, charitable organisations and philanthropic individuals
In addition to a segment devoted to pledging statements, the conference will also feature presentations on a specially tailored fund that will be used to manage finances for the reconstruction effort, as well as a panel discussion on recovery and resilience, and building back better, the press release noted.
There will also be a presentation on government’s recovery priorities and several high-level sector projects, geared towards rebuilding a stronger, more resilient Bahamas.
Minister of Foreign Affairs and North Abaco MP Darren Henfield said the conference will hopefully inspire resilience, while creating paths for people to continue to assist with storm recovery.
“We are really pleased for the assistance, aid and solidarity we’ve gotten from the international community through organisations like the UN Development Programme and other NGOs that are here in the Bahamas,” Mr Henfield said last night. “No country could recover from the catastrophic event that we saw on September 1 in Dorian. . .we expect this pledging conference will inspire resilience, it will give people an avenue to continue to help the Bahamas to recover and we look forward to great participation from the international community and the companies that are here.”
Hurricane Dorian, a Category Five storm hit the islands of Abaco and Grand Bahama in September leaving widespread devastation estimated at $3.4 billion, according to assessments conducted by the Inter-American Development Bank and the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean.
The pledge conference aims to galvanise support from the private sector, philanthropic individuals, other governments and donors who have expressed interest in assisting with the recovery.