Caribbean leaders launch ambitious plan to create the world’s first “climate-smart zone”

World leaders at the One Planet Summit in Paris

December 12, 2017, PARIS – Recent hurricanes have left unprecedented devastation across the Caribbean and it is a traumatic time for all those who live in the region. Whole communities and towns have been decimated, and the global community needs to act quickly and give generously to relieve suffering and help to rebuild.

Alongside the on-going emergency response, Caribbean leaders today announced the launch of a new public-private coalition to create the world’s first “climate-smart zone”.

The Caribbean Climate-Smart Coalition aims to find a way to break through the systemic obstacles that stop finance flowing to climate-smart investments.

With the right domestic and international reforms, the world can step up – and help unleash the means to catalyze an ambitious US$8-billion investment plan to bring greater energy and infrastructure resilience to 3.2 million Caribbean households.

This would help Caribbean islands to eliminate their costly dependency on fossil fuels so that they can meet close to 100% percent of their energy needs from renewable sources, and to embed resilience into communities and livelihoods to realise the bold ambitions of all Caribbean people.

The announcement came at the One Planet Summit hosted by French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris to review progress made on the Paris Agreement adopted by global governments two years ago today.

Caribbean leaders have brought together a Coalition of global organisations such as the Inter-American Development Bank, the World Bank and the Caribbean Development Bank, as well as businesses and supporters from the Caribbean and the international community.

The Coalition aims to reinvigorate the islands that have been impacted by recent hurricanes Irma and Maria, and help build more resilient infrastructure and communities across the region as the likelihood of future extreme weather events increases. Coalition members will help to establish partnerships that can make investment deals happen. They will also bring their collective abilities together to break down the technological and financial barriers which represent the last obstacles to Caribbean people grasping the transformational opportunities that are in reach.

Specifically, the Coalition’s work will focus on catalyzing four initial critical priorities: Scale renewable energy as rapidly as possible to help free Caribbean countries from the high cost of imported fossil fuels and the high vulnerability of centralised distribution systems. Build low-carbon and resilient infrastructure including nature-based approaches, to better withstand future extreme weather events.

Create innovative financing models such as a debt-for-resilience swap initiative in exchange for demonstrated progress on policy reforms and investments to strengthen resilience and promote climate-smart growth pathways. Build platforms to help facilitate the large public and private investments required. Strengthen the capacity of Caribbean countries and key regional institutions to plan for long-term resilience and climate smart growth strategies.

Prime Minister Keith Mitchell of Grenada, Chair of CARICOM, said: “Caribbean leaders have come together as a powerful collective to build a better future for the people of the Caribbean. We welcome the financial commitments from our partners – around US$1.3 billion for recovery efforts and US$2.8 billion toward the vision shared by all members of the Coalition and others. This is a great first step. Now we need to turn this possibility into a set of realities that benefit all our people. We all need to work together to change the rules of the game to accelerate climate-smart financial flows for the Caribbean and other small island developing states. Together we can build thriving economies fuelled by clean energy, nature-based resilient design and innovation. The time for action is now.”

Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit of Dominica, said: “Despite the immense human suffering and economic damage caused by the recent hurricanes, the people of the Caribbean do not want to be just passive victims of climate change. Rather, they want to be active participants in designing and implementing solutions, and for their Caribbean region to serve as a beacon of hope for island nations all over the world.”

Supported by funding and resources from the Inter-American Development Bank Group, the World Bank Group and the Caribbean Development Bank, a Caribbean Climate-Smart Accelerator with an estimated budget of $6 -10m for a three-year period is being established to catalyse billions of further public and private resources.

Luis Alberto Moreno, Inter-American Development Bank Group President, said: “The IDB Group reaffirms its continued and historical commitment to the Caribbean and will work with leaders of the region to improve lives by creating climate-smart and vibrant economies, where people are safe, productive, and happy. We hope that through this Climate Smart Coalition, in addition to offering new affordable financing, we will use our wide physical presence on the ground to work closely with the people of the region to design their Caribbean of the future, today.”

Jim Yong Kim, World Bank Group President, said: “The Caribbean is in the ‘eye of the storm’ and we need coordinated international support to rebuild and better plan for the future. At the World Bank Group, we welcome the Caribbean Climate-Smart Coalition and plan to support it so countries get back on their feet and are better able to deal with the growing frequency and intensity of storms and hurricanes.”

Warren Smith, President of the Caribbean Development Bank, said: “The destruction our Region experienced during the 2017 Atlantic Hurricane Season emphasises that we cannot afford to take a business-as-usual approach in tackling climate change. CDB, therefore, welcomes the establishment of the Caribbean Climate-Smart Coalition. The Bank shares the vision of the Coalition and we look forward to supporting and investing in solutions to accelerate progress towards achieving this goal.

Achim Steiner, Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme, said: “The next hurricane season is only six months away so achieving climate-smart and resilient development for the Caribbean is critical. Affected individuals are the focus of the $5 billion recovery process, but this effort will only be successful if it involves the private sector, civil society and governments at all levels working together for a more resilient Caribbean. Last month, close to $2.5 billion was pledged at a conference co-organized by CARICOM and UNDP for recovery and resilience in the Caribbean, and it is our objective to facilitate joint efforts with the work of the Caribbean Climate-Smart Coalition.”

Allen Chastanet, Prime Minister of St. Lucia, said: “Ultimately, we will only win the battle on climate change when investments in climate action and broader resilience become the economically sensible decision to make every time. It’s not just about protecting against negative impacts – climate action needs to be about enhancing competitiveness, creating jobs, improving our economies. Otherwise, our people cannot make the sacrifices needed. I’m pleased by the level of support from our Coalition partners and others. But I’m excited about the possibility for the Caribbean to incubate new powerful ideas, and accelerate their implementation.”

Sir Richard Branson, Founder Virgin Group, said: “Much of the Caribbean has been going through immense human suffering and economic damage caused by the recent hurricanes. But I never had any doubts about the spirit and the resilience of Caribbean people. They have come together and decided to turn the Caribbean into a spark of hope for the world. The work of the Caribbean Climate-Smart Coalition will help to break down the remaining barriers between vision and reality, and will see the region not only recover from the catastrophic impacts of Irma and Maria. It will set a shining example of resilient reconstruction and clean energy transition.”

THE RISE Fund said: “The RISE Fund is committed to investing in businesses that create positive and measurable social or environmental impact alongside competitive financial returns. We’re excited about the Coalition’s work to help rebuild the power infrastructure in the Caribbean to provide more cost effective, resilient, and cleaner power. We look forward to working with the Coalition to identify investment opportunities that will drive positive commercial outcomes while helping to rebuild and strengthen local communities across the Caribbean.”

Mary Robinson, Chair of the Mary Robinson Foundation – Climate Justice, said: “Climate justice is all of our responsibility. We must stand alongside all the people of the Small Island Nations who will be most impacted by climate change. The recent hurricanes in the Caribbean have been devastating to watch, with people still homeless, without electricity and without livelihoods. We need to provide support in the form of immediate relief, and we also need to start working with them to build a resilient future where the people of the Caribbean can thrive. I’m thrilled to see the “Caribbean Climate Smart Coalition” being announced in Paris. It is wonderful to see Caribbean Leaders coming together with partners from all over the world to ensure that the Caribbean can serve as a beacon of hope for other Island Nations.”

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11 Comments

  1. Real truth
    December 13, 2017

    Why do I feel these talks are a waste of time ? Some simple solutions folks…..For inter island energy needs there are offshore barges nearly a mile Long that are hurricane resilient, which run on deep water ammonia gas turbines, that produce unlimited energy, fresh water, ice etc..Each Caribbean island could plug into them…two, bring manufacturing/modern Agriculture to the Islands, so that they are food sovereign, etc. Three, weed out all Caribbean corruption! I must be dreaming!!!

  2. Francisco Etienne-Dods Telemaque
    December 13, 2017

    Simply because it makes good reading, does mean it make sense! The caption reads “Caribbean Leaders Ambitious  Plans To Create Worlds First Climate-Smart-Zone! Whereas that  may ring an loud bell, it is nothing more than sweet sounding music, in the ears of of those playing the music. One wonders how are they going to accomplish that.

    If this world first of whatsoever it will be is in the Caribbean, I suggest the patient is on its way to the hospital in the ambulance, only that the paramedics are unaware that the patient is already dead; and will be pronounced DOA  at the hospital.

    If we stop using fossil fuel in the Caribbean, that will not help as long as it is used in China, the worlds greatest polluter!

    One cannot get rid of climate change unless one gets rid of the source of the problem. The source of the problem  international is the use of fossil fuel; which for more than more than three (317) hundred seventeen years been used; discharging CO2 in the atmosphere…

    • Francisco Etienne-Dods Telemaque
      December 13, 2017

      Con:

      The source of the problem  international is the use of fossil fuel; which for more than more than three (317) hundred seventeen years been used; discharging CO2 in the atmosphere. Global warming is caused by too much CO2 (carbon dioxide) in the atmosphere, that acts as a cover, “covering” trapping heat; hence warming the planet.

      The heat is accompanied by heavy rain down pour, floods and other extreme weather events occurring more frequently. These people: politicians are simply blowing off hut air, even Bronson, if he ground his aircraft until an alternative source of fuel is found; that will help in a slight reduction of CO2 over the planet. 

       Climate change began with the advent of the industrial age which is a period in history that encompasses the changes in economic development which began somewhere the 1760’s in England, and later adapted by the rest of the European nations mainly by the replacing of hand tools with power driven machines, such as the power…

    • Francisco Etienne-Dods Telemaque
      December 13, 2017

      Finally: 

      Climate change began with the advent of the industrial age which is a period in history that encompasses the changes in economic development which began somewhere the 1760’s in England, and later adapted by the rest of the European nations mainly by the replacing of hand tools with power driven machines, such as the power loom, and the steam engine.

      Sweet sounding words are meaningless: What can Roosevelt Skerrit and Dominica contribute to climate change other than his useless babbling? The only way feasible  to combat climate chance is for the world to immediately cease using fossil fuels; and that will never happen: unless the world change to an alternative fuel soon, we will continue to suffer the same fate we suffered from Erika, and Maria indefinitely!

  3. I Must admit
    December 13, 2017

    I have absolutely zero confidence in these Caribbean leaders. These so called Caribbean leaders of today have no backbones whatever and no doubt the worse set of leaders the Caribbean has ever produced, starting with our own Roosevelt Skerrit. There only concern is to remain in power so they could aquire personal wealth. Take a good look at where our cricket is today and tell me if these bunch of leaders can make Caribbean first in anything. They are clouds without rain; smoke with no fire and men without the male testicles. To me it looks as if there objective now is to compete with the corrupt Skerrit to see which one is able to replace him as the richest pm in the Caribbean. But you guys have to fight real hard because that corrupt leader of our is filthy rich!

  4. jungle
    December 13, 2017

    What a depressing scene this is – all these men, dressed in their $5,000 suits, most having used private jets to get there, talking about science of which they have little understanding. And the simple two-step solution is staring everybody in the face: 1) Everyone strive for less; 2) Eliminate carbon-based fuel NOW!

  5. Ibo France
    December 13, 2017

    Good point Mr. Rossnof! One of the major setbacks to the Caribbean Region making giant steps forward, is the prohibitively high cost of electricity. This consumes huge portions of government, businesses and the ordinary man’s finances. Geothermal energy would not only be cheaper but cleaner. This should be pursued relentlessly until it is fully realized. Mr. Skerrit and his band of sycophants seem incapable of getting this done. It is therefore incumbent on him to step aside and allow more competent hands to take control of the country’s affairs. Whenever you have overstayed your time in government, you run out of steam and ideas, and become lethargic.

  6. Ibo France
    December 13, 2017

    I personally wish that the Caribbean Region can stand as a luminous beacon for all that is good and proper, and for the rest of the world to emulate. Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear this would happen for the foreseeable future. The leaders are steadfastly preoccupied only with retaining power to feather their own nests, and those of their close and distant relatives, plus their most fanatical supporters. Collectively, the Government, the Opposition, the Private Sector, Civil Society, Religious Organizations, Youth Groups can combine their efforts, ideas, intelligence to bring about well needed systemic changes to effect good governance but those presently in power are too narcissistic to permit this to prevail. We need leaders who are selfless, imaginative, industrious and truthful to govern these countries if we are to make a “C” change in our future endeavors.

    • Shaka Zulu
      December 13, 2017

      I concur. They say all the right things but we have a history and record that shows otherwise. Our institutions are weak to non existent and politics interference in the constitutional mandate for them to operate corrupted our system. As, a result the more time change the more we stagnate. The thirst to be the youngest, longest, serving leader, all self serving accomplishments trumps the need for making decisions that advance our people. People feel dependant and money diverted to buy favors and votes to maintain grasp on power. Give me a man that stays five years in power and leaves a progressive mark than one who spends 30 years with a country in poverty. Because od this i know the focus of these leaders is about the revenue they can get for thier personal goals. We already have brains, resources and skills to be climate resilience after all the animals survive dor centuries and they have not spent a dollar.

  7. Shaka Zulu
    December 13, 2017

    Allen Chastanet, Prime Minister of St. Lucia, said: “Ultimately, we will only win the battle on climate change when investments in climate action and broader resilience become the economically sensible decision to make every time. It’s not just about protecting against negative impacts – climate action needs to be about enhancing competitiveness, creating jobs, improving our economies. Otherwise, our people cannot make the sacrifices needed.
    Smart man!!!! Economic advances in the lives of Caribbean people must be part of that equation and not leaders enriching themselves and thier friends..

  8. Paul Rossnof
    December 13, 2017

    Wow, great plans I just wonder how this will all pan out. I’m afraid it will end up like the climate agreement. The US eventually will pull out, China is newer serious about climate issues anyway and Europe is blowing hot and cold about the entire issue. As far as Dominica is concerned all I will say, the present government is all about talk and in reality can not organise anything. Just one example in connection with this particular topic: the geothermal plant. A huge amount of money wasted and Skerrit doesn’t even want to talk about it anymore. I wonder whether he briefed the delegates in a Paris about that fiasco that was orchestrated by him.

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