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Eastern Caribbean Central Bank Highlights Sustainable Finance as it Marks 40th Anniversary

Dec – 19, 2023 – Observing its 40th anniversary under the theme “ECCB@40: A Year of Reflection, Celebration and Implementation,” the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) recently held a three-day Global Conference in collaboration with Central Banking Publications. The forum, which attracted 120-plus central bankers, including 15 governors and deputy governors from all seven continents, addressed crucial topics such as greening the financial system, reserves management, fintech, and central bank digital currencies (CBDCs).

ECCB Governor Timothy N.J. Antoine, and Deputy Governor Dr. Valda F. Henry, as well as Christopher Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief of Central Banking Publications, delivered opening remarks at the Global Conference whose theme was “Fit for the Times: Building Resilience and Embracing Innovation.”

Governor Antoine stressed the necessity of international support for creating green finance markets, acknowledging the region’s vulnerability of having a seven times higher frequency of natural disasters than the global average, resulting in an annual 2.5 percent loss in gross domestic product (GDP).

“We simply cannot ignore climate risk because it touches and concerns financial stability,” the Governor of the ECCB said, pointing to Hurricanes Ivan (Grenada, 2004) and Maria (Commonwealth of Dominica, 2017) which wiped out 200 percent and 226 percent of GDP, respectively. “While we agree with the necessity for disclosures and effective stress testing by licensees and regulators, these efforts are necessary but not sufficient. To meet this moment, significant climate capital is required for adaptation and loss and damage. In this regard, we call on our international partners to support the efforts of Emerging Market and Developing Economies (EMDEs) and Small Island Developing States (SIDS) to create green finance markets,” Governor Antoine said.

The Governor of the ECCB also underscored the importance of financial inclusion and digital innovation. Noting that the results of ECCB’s inaugural financial inclusion survey found only about 3 in 5 adults (64.9 percent) in the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU) hold a commercial bank account, the Governor added that “digital innovation is essential for financial inclusion; the payment system must work for all except illicit actors.”

Commenting on digital currencies and artificial intelligence, the Governor said: “The ECCB is also modernizing its payments system, recognizing the significance of strong oversight policies to support financial inclusion and resilience. Consequently, the ECCB intends to move ahead with its digital currency (DCash) and will in the next few months conclude the pilot and launch DCash 2.0 which is commercial deployment,” he said. Governor Antoine added that, in respect to artificial intelligence, “we [at the ECCB] regard it as a tool that we shall put to work to advance our mandates. That said, we are ready to collaborate on appropriate governance arrangements for this powerful emerging technology.”

Tobias Adrian, Financial Counsellor and Director of the Monetary and Capital Markets Department of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), discussed climate finance, with a particular focus on emerging markets and developing economies, in his keynote address on the opening day of the Global Conference, and Alexandre Tombini, Chief Representative for the Americas at the Bank for International Settlements (BIS), discussed the role and implications of CBDCs in his keynote address the following day.

ECCB, an SBFN member since 2021, serves as the monetary authority for eight island economies, namely, Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Commonwealth of Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, Saint Christopher (St Kitts) and Nevis, Saint Lucia and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.

In conjunction with the ECCB@40 Global Conference, the 5th Annual Conference with the ECCU’s Licensed Financial Institutions (LFIs) was held, as well as the 2023 ECCU Bank of the Year Awards to recognize commercial banks in the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union for their performance in the areas of Support to Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises; Technological Innovation; Customer Service; Financial Education and Empowerment; and Corporate Social Responsibility.

Click here to visit the ECCB’s YouTube page to watch excerpts of the Global Conference.