Designing an innovative financial system to attract sustainable investment for Small Island Developing States

01 June 2023

The Commonwealth Secretariat and Cambridge University's Centre for Resilience and Sustainable Development (CRSD) partnered for a collaborative workshop this week on designing an innovative financial system to attract sustainable investment for Small Island Developing States (SIDS).

On May 30, 2023, the workshop marked the third phase of the 'Their Future, Our Action' collaboration, aiming to empower SIDS governments to secure sustainable finance and foster resilient economies.

Developing access to finance for SIDS

With the participation of 40 experts from global and local institutions, the workshop focused on addressing the research question: How can we develop additional financial architecture to fulfill the principles of the Common Pool Asset Structuring Strategy (COMPASS) and enhance SIDS' access to finance?

The Commonwealth Secretariat has a long history of amplifying the voices of Small States. The Secretariat’s commitment to the needs of small and vulnerable states is evident through our work supporting sovereign debt management, climate finance access, and collaboration among finance ministers and central bank governors.

Common Poll Asset Structuring Strategy (COMPASS) model

The Their Future, Our Action project, a two-year collaboration between the Commonwealth Secretariat and CRSD, seeks to transform SIDS' capacity to attract sustainable finance. The workshop aimed to generate new knowledge, evidence, and skills for developing investable projects and establishing additional financial architecture that enhances SIDS' attractiveness to investors.

The workshop introduced the Common Pool Asset Structuring Strategy (COMPASS) model, which aims to enable SIDS to collaborate and collectively secure long-term funding for large-scale projects across multiple jurisdictions. COMPASS leverages common needs, economies of scale, and SIDS' valuable assets in nature and youth to drive investment opportunities. The model empowers SIDS to maintain control over project scope, scale, and investment decisions while collectively seeking funding from various sources.

The Cambridge Policy Boot Camp (CPBC) workshop initiated Phase 3 of the Their Future, Our Action project, aiming to identify assets and potential governance models for COMPASS and ensure effective operationalization. The workshop fostered fruitful discussions among experts, co-creating evidence for alternative financial institutional governance designs to attract sustainable finance for SIDS.

Using evidence to attract sustainable finance 

In her opening address, Commonwealth Secretary-General Rt Hon Patricia Scotland KC said to participants:

"Your presence here today – your willingness to take part in this work – is invaluable, and you can help to make a decisive contribution. The Commonwealth is a leading multilateral organization which is properly equipped to tackle challenges and navigate change in an action-oriented way - as a fulcrum of best practice, which is deeply connected to the lives of the most vulnerable, whilst able to exercise influence at the highest levels of global decision-making."

Dr. Nazia Mintz Habib FRSA, Founder of CRSD, said:

“The Cambridge Policy Boot Camp (CPBC) is a method that I developed to capture expert inputs in academic research not as a way to review the findings but to design the evidence so it fits the purpose for which the initial research journey started.  Today CPBC again proved to be a very effective way to deliberate with experts to discover, evidence and design purposeful use of the evidence. With these 40 experts, we co-created evidence for alternative financial institutional governance design for attracting sustainable finance for Commonwealth SIDS member states. Objectively based on the evidence, we can attract sustainable finance for SIDS. In addition, learn from this experience to create future-centric policy systems.”

The workshop was attended by finance and SIDS experts from around the world including representatives of investment bank Standard Chartered, the World Bank and IMF, IBM, global law firms DLA Piper and Clifford Chance, a number of impact entrepreneurs from Haiti, Kenya, India and the UK as well as experts from the Commonwealth Secretariat.

Speaking about his participation in the workshop, Dr Supriyo De, RBI Chair Professor at the National Institute of Pubic Finance and Policy said, 

“By following the Cambridge Policy Boot Camp (CPBC) process, along with other experts, we co-created something that was much more concrete than a traditional research workshop would have achieved. We do see that the Commonwealth can play a key role in anchoring and bringing various parties together to progress this concept for improving financial access for SIDS. I do see an important role for the IMF and the World Bank in this, and will endeavour to ensure their future participation take advantage of methods such as the CPBC that is more inclusive.”  

Outcomes from this workshop will be used to develop a working model of financial governance, that will be stress tested and evaluated with Commonwealth stakeholders and the finance sector later in 2023.

The collaborative efforts of the Commonwealth Secretariat, Cambridge University's CRSD, and the dedicated experts aim to help foster resilience and sustainable development for the benefit of future generations in Commonwealth Small Island Developing States.

About the 'Their Future, Our Action' project

Media contact

  • Rena Gashumba  Communications Adviser, Communications Division, Commonwealth Secretariat
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