Why incrementalism is more than fallacious – it’s fatal

It was clear at the World Travel Market in London in early November that the number of individuals, institutions and companies actively engaged in an aspect of transforming tourism is expanding. While being undertaken mostly by small-scale enterprises, more individuals within the larger corporates associated with mainstream tourism are also playing their part. Every initiative to reduce tourism’s footprint; improve the livelihoods of guests and residents; tackle injustice; alleviate poverty, conserve wildlife, clean up damage etc. is critical and to be applauded. So I am looking forward to [Travindy Editor] Jeremy Smith’s forthcoming book Transforming Travel that highlights numerous examples of transformation happening around the globe.

But the nature of the “wicked problem” that tourism’s current dependency on volume growth causes, means that these individual efforts on so many diverse fronts still lack the power to alter our current trajectory. They may slow down the passage of the Tourism Titanic but not prevent its ultimate collision with the iceberg. Susanne Becken rightfully and courageously addressed this problem head on in her presentation to the WTM (see her article Carbon and Tourism Where Next? referring to it as the fallacy of incrementalism. I support her 100% and am willing to go one step further and suggest that it’s not just fallacious but fatal for these reasons:

1. Incrementalism is not working. Despite all the earnest efforts of individuals around the world, we’re being undermined by the prevailing commitment/addiction to volume growth and a refusal of those with power and authority to question this strategy or re-define more helpful ways of defining growth and success. Interestingly, all the signs suggest that 2017 will be a bumper year for tourism with growth rates exceeding already ambitious forecasts.

2. We’re also undermining ourselves because we haven’t broken free from so many of the assumptions and beliefs that drive the old model – a focus on parts not wholes, on things not processes, on problems not potential, on scarcity that drives competition not abundance that comes from cooperation; a reluctance to share and collaborate; the need to control and over systematize, standardize and quantify; a reliance on rational, financial arguments and incentives; a failure to appeal to hearts and minds; the promotion of and dependence on experts that disempower communities; use of language and jargon that reflects the old paradigm and excludes; plus a belief we can use sustainability for competitive advantage. In short, we have ignored Einstein’s injunction and are using the same way of thinking that developed the problem to correct it. For another perspective on this, read David Holzmer

3. It breeds a false sense of progress and actually sustains “business as usual”. In fact I would venture to suggest that those parties who resist change (and they tend right now to be the most powerful in the system) use these incremental achievements of others to distract; as cover/camouflage to actually sustain business as usual.

4. These incremental efforts, while essential, do not address the root cause of our dependence on volume growth. The real cause of our predicament is “a way of seeing and being” on this planet that is no longer accurate (science has turned virtually all assumptions about how the world works on their head); no longer produces the outcomes intended (i.e., greater welfare/well-being) for the many; and leaves far more value and net benefit unrealized than it produces. Ironically it fails the hallmark of a successful industrial system – it’s inefficient and under-performs! Tourism may be growing in size but the net value generated per trip is, given the proliferation of cheap flights and cruises, not necessarily going up at the same rate. (Note: global data on net income desperately needed!!).

It’s long been recognized outside of tourism that the narrative (a.k.a. story, worldview, paradigm, consciousness) has to change first or we’ll continue to dig the hole we’re in deeper. (George Monbiot is one of the most recent proponents of this view (see: How do we get out of this mess? ) but many other luminaries have been saying this for half a century or more.

But who wants to take the time to figure out a new narrative? The old story dominates every nook and cranny of our consciousness urging us to “be practical” which means “do something dammit, ” get results, be measureable, analyse more, get more data, produce tangible results this quarter etc. so we have another conference, call for papers, publish another declaration, create another symposium or summit. There’s no time in our busy, overly competitive lives, now run by machines and systems; to stop, breathe, let alone think, reflect and question. The latter activities were actually designed-out of our way of working decades ago. (Image below source from Danone a company that’s working on narratives)

The word “transformation” has become popular this year but do we understand what that, once powerful word, actually implies? It’s change on a scale most of us are unfamiliar with despite our living in a period when every aspect of life and living is changing at an unprecedented rate and scale all around us. Richard Barrett of The Values Centre, a pioneer in the study of coporate culture and values observes.

  • Change is doing things differently. Transformation is a new way of being,
  • You can change without transforming but you can’t transform without change and
  • Organisations don’t change, people do!

Transformation is the opposite of the incrementalism that Susanne Becken warned us about. To qualify as transformational, change has to face and overcome root causes of a failing system or be exposed as mere tinkering i.e., yet another “makeover”. Transformation is nothing less than systems change. But here’s the rub – transformation has to start within the hearts, minds and consciousness of people like you and me or it won’t happen at all.

Transformational change doesn’t cut the engines of the Titanic to slow it down, it steers the vessel in a very different direction.

So what will it take to turn this great vessel of tourism around?

1. Push the door of our mental prison – it’s locked in the inside

Thinking small won’t serve us. Going it alone won’t either – especially if we are motivated to “get one over” on others.

Never has there been a time in history when so many of us were being asked to move out of our comfort zones; out of our shells, our cubicles, our departments, our silos, our specialties, our functions, companies, agencies and institutions, even our spheres of influence and join hands, hearts and minds as human beings and ask: What’s really happening? What on earth am I doing here? Is this all there is? What do I long for – if not for me but for my children or my friend’s children? What gift of my being can I share and develop?

This first step – recognizing that we don’t have to settle for mediocrity; that we can learn to dream big again and, each of us matter and have a role to play and a responsibility to play it – can be taken alone. It is primarily an inner journey as we re-examine our personal values, beliefs and assumptions. But after that, the journey requires and is enriched by companions.

2. Acknowledge that we’re all in this together and no hero is coming to save us.

We’re each different and unique and that’s a huge positive, but only if we start listening, sharing, co-creating, contributing and, most importantly, learning together. Because in this brave new, utterly joined up connected world of ours, each of us do matter. Hogging power and authority at the centre is as fatal as incrementalism. True innovation, creativity happens at the edges between order and chaos. It emerges from dialogue, interaction, relationship, flux, and conflict and depends on diversity, honesty, transparency and a willingness to fail as often as to succeed

Leadership and power are currents that flow through a group to be shared and expressed in varying amounts by each participant according to circumstance. What matters is that we learn to “see” and care for the whole (i.e., life, humanity on this planet) and our role as contributing to its flourishing.

3. Commit to seeing “clearly”

We’re being asked to open our eyes, to wake up and see who we are as individuals and members of a species that now holds the balance of life in its hands. It’s less about saving the planet than saving ourselves and the other life forms that have become dependent on our capacity to act in their interests as well as our own.

Virtually every challenge you can think of, in general and in tourism specifically, stems from the success of a system we humans designed – albeit incrementally over a 300 year period. It’s called the industrial production-consumption system refined more recently by a particular form of economics that seems rigged to benefit fewer and fewer each year that passes. (George Monbiot, by the way, referred to just one layer of a multi-layered narrative that digs deep into what it means to be human). The impact of that system on the rest of the life and inanimate matter on this planet has only become apparent in the last 60 years ago. What appeared to be efficient and effective is now delivering outcomes and side effects that are sufficiently harmful that they will break the system itself. A system re-design is called for. But unless we understand what assumptions, beliefs and values underpinned the old decaying system we won’t be able to change or correct them when designing a better one.

Hence the need for a massive re-framing of our thinking (changing the paradigm or story) and that has to be taken throughout society and throughout the community of people who work in the tourism and hospitality as part of it. Most importantly, this process involves inner and outer transformation – a willingness to better understand what goes on in our own, individual hearts and minds as well as what we say and do in our families, communities and workplaces.

4. Be willing to consider re-defining success and purpose.

In order to create and sustain the vast global system of product and consumption that has now infiltrated every corner of the planet (even bushmen of the Kalahari now know they need money to survive) humanity has been entranced – put under a spell. A spell that says to survive and thrive money/cash is essential; making and spending it our role, function and purpose; and the acquisition of it the primary sign of success. As the sun passes over our revolving planet from the hours of 6:0am-9:0am, the global population wakes up and performs virtually the same preparatory rituals for a day of work or play that increasingly involve, for many, the need to completely numb ourselves for “the “commute; ” and leave large parts of our “selves” at home.

Be it at the individual, corporate or community level, we’ve been lead to believe that our purpose is to contribute to generating more wealth in the form of income, profit or GDP. This wasn’t always the case – ask any indigenous person and you’ll see how recently the spell has enchanted us all.

Even a few hundred years ago, the purpose of an economy was to create welfare for the many and income, profit and GDP were seen as the means to do so. But since, we have switched means for ends despite the fact that the capacity of these means to produce greater well-being, greater health and happiness is now diminishing.

The simple most effective way to start to turn the Tourism Titanic in the direction of safety will be to re-define our shared assumption that more visitors will bring more benefits and focus instead on increasing the net benefit. That will require a far deeper understanding of the nature and scope of costs incurred to support each visitor and a commitment to grow the benefits their visit generates in real, net terms. Many of these costs and benefits are difficult if not impossible to quantify but the party best able to identify them is the host community. In most cases they will be paying to mitigate the costs and, as importantly, only host communities can really identify what they perceive as a benefit.

Only when we’re ready to admit that our incremental steps are insufficient and that we need to recognize and internalize the four truths listed above, can we begin to re-design a system that works for all. That’s why, the focus of our work is on community education and empowerment and pushing that mental prison door wide open!!!.

This article was first published on Linkedin. Follow Anna Pollock on Linkedin to read all her articles.

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Gender (in)equality in tourism conferences – women underrepresented as keynote speakers

There is now a substantial body of research on gender issues in the tourism and hospitality industries, with reports examining gender in relation to employment, and representation of women in senior industry roles. But what about tourism as a research community: how are the genders split, and do women have equality with men in prominent positions in academic bodies and at research conferences? In a paper recently published online in the Journal of Policy Research in Tourism, Leisure and Events, Walters (2017) examines 53 academic conferences in the subject areas of tourism, hospitality, leisure and events. She finds that while women are well represented as conference chairs, there is unequal representation in prestigious roles of keynote and invited speakers.

Data were collected between mid October 2016 and mid April 2017 from the websites of relevant conferences to be held in the 2017 calendar year. Gender was analysed for five conference leadership categories including conference chairs or convenors, keynote speakers and expert panel participants, and organising, scientific or honorary committees. Gender balance in these leadership roles were compared with the composition of the TriNet community of tourism researchers as a proxy for the gender balance of leisure and tourism researchers overall, which shows an almost 50:50 split between men and women.

in one conference which highlighted ‘Equality, gender and diversity issues’ as a conference theme only one of the six Organising Committee members and less than one-third of Scientific Committee members were women

Among Chairs or similar roles, no gender gap was observed. Of the 79 individuals identified, women comprised 42% of Conference Chairs, Convenors and Presidents of Organising Committees and men accounted for 58%. This gender distribution shows no significant difference from the TriNet community. However, the study finds gender inequality in two types of roles – Keynote Speakers and membership on Honorary Committees – where there is statistically significant under-representation of women. It also identifies areas of tension between some host association values/aims and conference aims/themes and actual gender representation in conference leadership roles, finding a gap between rhetoric and action. For example, in one conference which highlighted ‘Equality, gender and diversity issues’ as a conference theme only one of the six Organising Committee members and less than one-third of Scientific Committee members were women.

The paper discusses the implications of gender inequality on both women academics and knowledge production in these fields, and suggests avenues for future research. These include an examination of whether gender equality at our academic conferences ‘matters’ to attendees, and investigating perceptions and impacts of under-representation of women on graduate students and emerging scholars.

The current (Volume 18, Issue 4) issue of Anatolia focuses on gender (in)equality in tourism academia; it goes ‘beyond the numbers’ and the varied contributions show a gendered landscape that extends from the curriculum through to how ‘top researchers’ in tourism are celebrated. Pritchard and Morgan (2017) provide compelling evidence of gendering in academic performance indicators in tourism – such indicators ‘make and mark its leaders and shape its knowledge canon’. The paper presents interventions to accelerate academic gender equity. Basurto Barcia and Ricaurte Quijano (2016) found in Ecuador an underrepresentation of women in teaching (53%) in relation to the percentage of female tourism students (75%).

This article was first published by David Simpson on Cabi.


Walters T (2017). Gender equality in academic tourism, hospitality, leisure and events conferences. Journal of Policy Research in Tourism, Leisure and Events. https://doi.org/10.1080/19407963.2018.1403165

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MICE industry can do more to promote sustainable travel says EarthCheck

The Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre

The meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (MICE) sector has a bigger role to play in measuring and promoting sustainable travel according to Stewart Moore of EarthCheck.

The MICE sector represents big business, delivering major economic benefits that are a key contributor to the growth in tourism and leisure development worldwide. And the benefits from MICE extend far beyond the actual hosting of the event, with trade opportunities being generated in both host and visitor countries: tourism represents 5% of global GDP and contributes to more than 8% of total employment.

“The sheer size and reach of the tourism and travel sector now gives it a substantial voice, but it is important to recognise that you can’t manage what you can’t measure,” EarthCheck CEO and founder, Stewart Moore said.

Mr Moore said he is surprised that MICE operators and tourism groups worldwide, who are doing excellent work in sustainability, seem to be still hesitant to share their stories.

“As an industry we can’t take action on future water, waste and energy initiatives if we don’t understand what we are using now.

“Sustainability initiatives can provide a point of difference for all events and become part of a rewarding experience for business travellers and their guests,” Mr Moore said.

“This includes initiatives which support the delivery of local cuisine and wine, local entertainment and arts and cultural events.”

Tourism and destination marketing and management now go hand in hand with event marketing. Destination support services, activities and attractions remain an important factor when meeting planners choose a venue, because delegates want to go to a destination that offers comfortable and clean hotel accommodation, good food and wine, local entertainment and other facilities that they can use when the conference is over.

“Smart organisations excel at guiding guests through the hotel, resort or centre’s sustainability story, giving them a role to play in conservation and community initiatives and empowering them to recognise that they play an important part of the environmental solution,” Mr Moore said.

“Whilst the industry has generally done a good job in raising awareness of the need for responsible tourism growth and development, every operator should commit to collecting sufficient data to understand their operational footprint, and the data needs to be accurately collected and benchmarked to allow them to understand how they are performing against their peers and their own business plan expectations.”

One way MICE organisers can do this is by using the Hotel Footprinting Tool which shows the average carbon footprint per room, stay or meeting for a particular destination.

Given the size and environmental footprint of business and event tourism it is important that the destination works with the convention centre and event organisers to ensure that events deliver a triple bottom line outcome for the local community – in other words positive social and environmental benefits which can sit beside economic returns.

EarthCheck released ‘EventCheck’ to assist and guide MICE venues with an effective framework for event organisers, clients and suppliers to measure, minimise and eliminate the environmental, social and economic impacts of events.

Through EarthCheck Certification, the world’s leading convention and entertainment centres are now making a strategic commitment to establish sustainability plans that not only reduce their impact on the environment, but also contribute to building more livable and caring communities with deliberate planning and a dedicated focus on destination management.

The Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre (BCEC) achieved EarthCheck Gold Certification in 2017, recognising seven consecutive years compliance of the highest environmental standards for best practice in the key areas of:

  • Energy consumption;
  • Greenhouse gas emissions;
  • Water savings; and
  • Waste sent to landfill.

BCEC was also named The World’s Best Convention Centre by the International Association of Congress Centres. The prestigious award followed BCEC’s success in hosting one of the world’s most significant business events, the G20 Summit.

Mexico’s Centro Citibanamex achieved EarthCheck Gold Certification in 2017 recognising eight consecutive years’ compliance of the highest environmental standards for best practice. Their community work exemplifies their dedication and commitment to corporate social responsibility including a reforestation programme that encourages staff to plant trees, and a food redistribution programme, in partnership with La Tablée des Chefs, to mitigate food waste and food insecurity in the local community. In addition Centro Citibanamex was named “Best Convention Centre in Mexico” from 2006-2012 by Destinos and Convenciones.

Since 1987, EarthCheck has helped businesses, communities and governments to coordinate a more strategic approach to destination management by delivering clean, safe, prosperous and healthy destinations for travellers to visit, live, work and play. Most importantly everything that EarthCheck undertakes is underpinned by evidence based scientific data and performance based metrics. For further information visit earthcheck.org

This article was first published by Green Hotelier. Read the original article here: MICE industry can do more to promote sustainable travel says EarthCheck.

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UN expo to highlight vital role of South-South cooperation in achieving Global Goals

24 November 2017 – A United Nations expo next week in Turkey is set to highlight the critical role of South-South cooperation in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in light of the vast array of knowledge, skills, expertise and resources that is, and can further be, shared among developing countries.

The meeting, which will take place in Antalya from 27 to 30 November, will provide an opportunity to showcase share solutions, initiatives and success stories, as well as explore new avenues for collaboration and partnership.

“It is about sharing with the spirit of solidarity and with the spirit of finding solutions to similar problems,” said Jorge Chediek, the Secretary-General’s Envoy on South-South Cooperation and Director of the UN Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC).

In an interview with UN News ahead of the Global South-South Development Expo 2017 (GSSD), Mr. Chediek added that South-South cooperation can contribute to the achievement of the SDGs through enhancing productive capacity, facilitating trade and investment, and sharing contextually-appropriate technologies.

VIDEO:Jorge Chediek, the Secretary-General’s Envoy on South-South Cooperation, talks to UN News about the upcoming Global Expo that will take place in Antalya, Turkey, from 27 to 30 November.

At the same time, he stressed that the SDGs require a global alliance with the engagement of all countries.

“South-South should not be seen as a replacement but as a complement to North-South cooperation. It will be an important one because it can produce and it can generate more relevant experiences and more relevant practices for other developing countries.”

More than 1,100 participants are expected at the Expo, which will feature over 50 exhibits highlighting cost-effective and replicable solutions to the challenges faced by developing countries.

“We have representatives from over 120 countries that will participate in over 35 events and there will be the possibility of establishing lots of partnerships, as a demonstration of the importance South-South cooperation has in the context of the achievement of the Agenda 2030,” said Mr. Chediek.

Travel+SocialGood rebrands as Impact Travel Alliance and announces 2018 plans

Committed to growing its inclusive community and expanding the travel industry’s impact, Travel+SocialGood, a nonprofit working in the global travel industry since 2013, changed its name to Impact Travel Alliance (ITA). The new name better reflects the organization’s long-term vision to affect the choices an average leisure or business traveler makes and the importance travel businesses put on a triple-bottom line.

“Our goal is to reshape the narrative around sustainable tourism, and help average consumers understand that sustainability can be applied to any type of travel,” said Kelley Louise, Impact Travel Alliance’s executive director. “Our new name reflects our commitment to build an inclusive community of professionals dedicated to building a more impactful travel industry.”

The organization’s rebrand was announced on Nov. 17, at the end of its Global Summit, an event presented in partnership with Global Sustainable Tourism Council, Sustainable Travel International, Center for Responsible Travel and Tourism Cares. ITA is working with these partners to make sustainable tourism more accessible to all travelers. The Summit challenged all 150 attendees to think about increasing transparency in the industry.

“Working together with our partners has helped us to shape our vision for the future of ITA,” Louise said. “We believe business and leisure travel can help to solve some of the world’s most pressing issues, and hope that through collaboration, we can continue to push the industry toward a more impactful future.”

In 2018, ITA will begin building a comprehensive platform of vetted travel resources to help professionals gain a holistic understanding of sustainability, and implement it into their business models or own travel experiences. ITA’s goal is to provide a resource of trusted materials to those looking to learn more about sustainable tourism. ITA will first look to its current industry partners, such as Ritz-Carlton, Hostelling International USA, Lokal Travel, Kind Traveler and Myght, Inc., but will be expanding its network rapidly.

“Sustainable travel is up to all of us – travelers and industry providers alike – to integrate into every journey. We’re excited to have a partner like ITA to accelerate the collective efforts of providers like HI USA committed to responsible tourism,” said Hostelling International USA’s Director of Communications And PR Netanya Trimboli.

Impact Travel Alliance is the world’s largest community for impact-focused travel professionals. Through education and advocacy around sustainable tourism, the organization aims to transform the travel industry into a force for good, and to address issues like poverty and inequality through business and leisure travel. ITA is an independent 501(c)3 nonprofit with a highly engaged and active global community with 20 Hubs (local chapters) in cities around the world. ITA is run entirely by volunteers and the passion of more than 200 active Hub leaders and Media Network members. For more information, visit impacttravelalliance.org.

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At UN, over $2 billion pledged to help hurricane-affected Caribbean nations ‘build back better’

22 November 2017 – The international community mobilized over $1.3 billion in pledges and more than $1 billion in loans and debt relief to help Caribbean nations recover from the strong hurricanes that pummelled the region a few months ago, during a meeting at United Nations Headquarters on Tuesday.

“I think we’re extremely happy with the results of the conference,” said Stephen O’Malley, the UN Resident Coordinator and Resident Representative of the UN Development Programme (UNDP) for Barbados and the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States.

The powerful category-5 hurricanes Irma and Maria hit the Caribbean in September causing a number of deaths and widespread devastation in the Caribbean. According to the latest needs estimates, recovery costs are expected to surpass $5 billion.

Barbuda, the smaller of the two-island State of Antigua and Barbuda, and Dominica were among the most severely affected, along with Anguilla, British Virgin Islands, The Bahamas, Turks and Caicos Islands. Haiti and St. Kitts and Nevis also suffered damage, while St. Maarten/St. Martin as well as Cuba, the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico were also impacted.

“It is a very long road to recovery,” Mr. O’Malley said in an interview with UN News, noting that while the roads in the capital, Roseau, are more or less clear and water is back, only three per cent of the country currently has electricity. In addition, agriculture has been badly affected. “It’s still a hard time.”

Meanwhile, on Barbuda, water was restored yesterday and people are trickling back to the island. The roads have been cleared and people are beginning to repair their homes, and trying to determine whether they can come back and resettle or wait longer until the conditions are right for returning. Schools have not re-opened and medical services are very limited, Mr. O’Malley noted.

Nearly 400 high-level representatives from governments, multilateral and civil society organizations and the private sector gathered in New York, along with the Secretaries-General of the UN and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) to help the affected countries “build back better.”

“They want to be a climate-resilient region,” Mr. O’Malley stated, explaining that this involves practical steps from the way a country’s road network and electricity grid are designed to ensuring that schools and hospitals are built to withstand the impact of climate change.

“It’s your infrastructure. It’s also better planning and preparedness by the governments so that they can respond more quickly,” he pointed out. “They have the capacity to do that […] there’s a variety of different things there to make everybody more climate resilient.”

Addressing the conference yesterday, Secretary-General António Guterres noted that countries in the Caribbean need support now to rebuild, and to take effective climate action.

“We need a new generation of infrastructure that is risk-informed, to underpin resilient economies, communities and livelihoods,” he told the gathering.

Find out more about the UN’s efforts to assist countries impacted by the 2017 Atlantic Hurricane Season here

‘New and better deal’ needed for climate resilience in Caribbean, UN chief tells donor conference

21 November 2017 – Caribbean countries need “a new and better deal” – one that includes access to concessional finance and adequate insurance – if they are to build climate resilience, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said Tuesday at an international conference to mobilize support for the reconstruction of communities devastated by a series of powerful hurricanes.

“During my visits to Dominica and Antigua and Barbuda, I saw a level of devastation that I have never witnessed before in my life,” Mr. Guterres said, noting that in these islands alone, damage is estimated at $1.1 billion, and total economic losses at $400 million.

This year’s Atlantic hurricane season was particularly active, with storms having been more frequent, and stronger. Of the 13 named storms, eight were hurricanes and of those, four were major hurricanes, including Irma and Maria. Across the entire Caribbean region, there was tragic loss of life and widespread devastation.

The pledging conference today at UN Headquarters in New York, was co-organized by the UN and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), which is a regional grouping of 20 countries.

“Let’s not forget that these island States are not only interlinked by geography, but also interlinked by the economy, so when one country suffers, all countries suffer,” Mr. Guterres said.

Secretary-General António Guterres delivers remarks at High-Level Pledging Conference: Building a more Climate-resilient Community. UN Photo/Kim Haughton

He noted that extreme weather is becoming the new normal and sea levels have risen more than 10 inches since 1870. Over the past 30 years, the number of annual climate-related disasters has nearly tripled and economic losses have quintupled.

Countries in the Caribbean need a new generation of infrastructure that is risk-informed, to underpin resilient economies, communities and livelihoods, and to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), adopted in 2015 by 193 UN Member States.

But financing is a key challenge for many Caribbean countries, which have limited access to concessional finance because of their ‘middle income’ classification. They also have high levels of debt, much of it incurred through investment in recovery and resilience.

Caribbean countries are also paying hundreds of millions of dollars a year in remittance fees. Disaster insurance has also proved inadequate to this unprecedented hurricane season. Debt instruments should be sensitive to the ability to pay, and have catastrophe clauses built in.

“In short: we need a new and better deal for the Caribbean, if these countries are to build climate resilience and achieve the SDGs,” Mr. Guterres said, urging international financial institutions and donors to coordinate risk sharing and concessional lending terms.

“Today must be about more than speeches and pledges,” he said. “It is an opportunity to forge a partnership for a better future, and to deepen a vision for recovery that brings together all actors and puts people at its centre, as active development agents.”

Also addressing the conference was UN General Assembly President Miroslav Lajčák, who highlighted three key steps the international community can take.

We should not let the people be punished once by nature and twice by outdated economic policies.General Assembly President Miroslav Lajcák

First is commitment to support the rebuilding effort. Funding and technical assistance are urgently needed to help the affected countries to get back on their feet. Housing, telecommunications, water and sanitation, healthcare services and education facilities are needed.

Second is to rebuild with greater resilience, he said, commending CARICOM’s goal of becoming the first climate-resilient region in the world.

Third, he continued, there is a need to recognize that small island developing States (SIDS) are particularly vulnerable to climate change, natural disasters and external shocks. To compound this, middle income small island developing Stated face inadequate access to grant and concessional funding because of how their development is measured.

“We should not let the people be punished once by nature and twice by outdated economic policies,” he said.