UN official calls for insurance scheme to hedge against catastrophes in small islands
23 April 2008
BANGKOK, 23 APRIL 2008 – The UN envoy for the world’s most vulnerable countries has called for an insurance scheme to aid island developing states in the Pacific, Indian and Atlantic oceans in times of natural catastrophe.
Addressing a meeting of Pacific Island Developing States, the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States, Mr. Cheick Sidi Diarra, said the insurance scheme would provide participating governments with immediate access to liquidity in case of a natural catastrophe.
Such a scheme was established by the World Bank for the Caribbean islands in June 2007. The Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility is the world’s first ever multi-country catastrophe insurance pool.
Mr. Diarra, who is also the UN Special Adviser on Africa, said that as one of the most vulnerable groups of countries, Small Island Developing States (SIDS) require special attention and support of the international community.
“Besides the challenges posed to the sustainable development of SIDS by their small size and geographic remoteness, environmental risks and vulnerability to natural disasters hamper their long term development,” he said. He commended the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific for the special role it is playing in these countries to assist to overcome their economic, social and environmental vulnerabilities.
The UN envoy called for an international consensus on the demand by small islands that are also Least Developed Countries (LDCs) that graduating from the list of LDCs should take into full account the threat posed by extreme environmental challenges to the economic and social gains they would have made.
“This is a compelling concern that deserves the attention of the international community. My Office is ready to facilitate the necessary debate on the matter with a view to reaching a consensus,” he said, adding that the question was even more urgent in the context of the growing appreciation of the dangers posed by climate change.
Last year, Cape Verde graduated from the list of LDCs, becoming only the second country to do so since the category was established. Samoa has been considered for graduation in 2010, and the Maldives should be graduating in 2011.
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