The eighth Caribbean Sustainable Energy Forum (CSEF to be held in Jamaica next month will prioritise sustainable energy’s pivotal role in powering transportation in the region.
Powering Transport is the theme of the forum, which is hosted by the CARICOM Secretariat and the Caribbean Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (CCREEE), with financial support from the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), the Jamaica Electric Vehicle Association, and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). Approximately 200 energy experts, policymakers and representatives of the private sector are expected to attend this flagship CARICOM Energy Month 2023 event at the AC Hotel Marriott in Kingston, Jamaica, November 7–9.
Priority areas for discussion during the three-day event include electrifying the Caribbean, electrifying the transport sector, decarbonising difficult-to-electrify segments of the transport sector and integrating electric vehicles into power distribution networks.
Several energy ministers from across the region are expected to convene in Jamaica for the discussions. Among them will be the Hon. Melford Nicholas, Minister of Information Communications Technologies and Utilities and Energy, Antigua and Barbuda; Hon. Rodwell Ferguson, Minister of Youth, Sports and Transport, Belize; Hon. Dr Vince Henderson, Minister for Foreign Affairs, International Business, Trade and Energy, Dominica; Hon. Kerryne James, Minister for Climate Resilience, the Environment and Renewable Energy, Grenada; Hon. Stephenson King, Senior Minister for Energy and Transport, St Lucia; Hon. Konris Maynard, Minister of Public Infrastructure and Utilities, Transport, Information, Communication and Technology and Posts, St Kitts and Nevis; and Hon. Senator Benarva Browne, Minister of Urban Development, Energy, Seaports, Grenadines Affairs and Local Government, St Vincent and the Grenadines.
Other high-level speakers at CSEF 8 will include Prof. Arthorous Zervos, President of the Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century (REN21), noted for his expertise in policy, science, research, and technology across the renewable energy sector; Ms. Therese Turner-Jones, Director of Projects, CDB; Mr. Anton Edmunds, General Manager, Country Department Caribbean Group and Country Representative in Jamaica, IDB; and other representatives of the CARICOM Secretariat, the CCREEE and the United Nations Development Programme.
Host and speaker Dr. James Fletcher, Chair of the CCREEE Executive Board and former Minister of Energy and Climate Change, St Lucia, said he welcomed the participation and enthusiasm of all the countries and senior-level persons in the energy sector participating in CSEF 8. “The participation in this year’s CSEF and the wider CARICOM Energy Month events demonstrate the fundamental role energy plays in the development and prosperity of our societies. Energy Month in the Caribbean reminds us that the energy sector isn’t just about power; it’s about empowerment. It’s the key to sustainability, economic growth, and a brighter future for our people.”
Forum attendees will also have the opportunity to see renewable energy systems at work in Jamaica first-hand, with site visits planned for the Wigton Windfarm and the JPS Operations Centre on the final day.
Co-host and business session moderator Mr. Joseph Cox, Assistant Secretary-General at the CARICOM Secretariat, stressed that there is widespread political commitment and leadership to transition to green energy across all Member States. He added that as the Caribbean has some of the highest electricity rates globally, “transitioning is not a normative ideal but an imperative. However, because of the costs of the new technology and the reality that all our countries are at different stages of development, the pace of implementation would vary. Therefore, we need to explore more cost-effective solutions to encourage widespread green energy adoption in our quest to cut our greenhouse gas emissions to as close to zero as possible by 2050.”
The upcoming CSEF is the first complete forum in five years. It comes at a crucial time for the region, as there is an urgent need for energy independence, clean and resilient power grids and sustainable energy use in the transport sector. The last CSEF was held in Barbados in 2021 and was a hybrid event due to COVID-19 restrictions.