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KINGSTON – The Caribbean has launched the world’s first ever “Caribbean Climate-Smart Accelerator” as the region continues its efforts to become the world’s first climate-smart zone.
The launch was held at the Mona campus of the University of the West Indies (UWI) and was attended by Prime Minister Andrew Holness, President of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) Luis Alberto Moreno, Virgin Group Founder Sir Richard Branson and World Bank Vice President for Latin America and the Caribbean Jorge Familiar.
So far, 26 Caribbean countries and more than 40 private and public sector partners have joined the accelerator, which will transform the region’s economy by fast-tracking sound public and private investment opportunities that support climate solutions for resilience, social development and broad-based growth for the Caribbean.
The climate-smart zone will not only protect the region but create jobs and a new economy in climate-smart infrastructure.
Core partners include the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the World Bank, CARICOM, and the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS).
Over the next five years, the accelerator will create the right environment for private and public funds to flow into investments in clean energy, building resilience and climate-smart cities and healthy oceans.
“This climate-smart zone will not only protect the region but create jobs and a new economy in climate-smart infrastructure. Although it has only just launching, it has already started to lay the foundations for success with initial Caribbean Climate-Smart projects,” the World Bank said.
Prime Minister Holness told the launch that he is excited by the project’s potential in combatting climate change and accelerating national and regional development.
He noted that the Caribbean is already making progress with the expanding use of renewable energy.
He said that low-carbon technologies are creating good jobs and building profitable businesses across the region, adding that Jamaica is already on a path to 30 per cent of its electricity generation being from renewable energy.
Holness called on the partners to “make impactful innovation” a priority, noting that the success of the initiative will be measured by “how it improves people’s lives, makes them feel safer, provides better jobs, improves social services and increases economic growth to build a sustainable and successful future”.
Sir Richard noted that the Caribbean Climate-Smart Accelerator Programme is based on a vision to make the region “greener, stronger and more resilient than ever before; built on innovation, powered by clean, sustainable energy and accelerated by public and private investment.
“The accelerator was formed to break down barriers [and] to . . . show the world what climate-smart development can do now and should look like, not just as a defence against hurricanes and other natural disasters but to help make the Caribbean an even better place to live and visit, while combatting poverty, creating great jobs and delivering broad-based economic growth,” he added.
Moreno said that over the next three years, the IDB will invest three million US dollars into the accelerator programme, starting this year with US$1.5 million, which will be used as start-up funds.
The IDB will also partner with the accelerator programme to implement the one billion US dollars in funds that it pledged for climate-smart investments across the Caribbean region at the Paris One Planet summit on December 12, 2017.
This additional funding will build on an existing portfolio of over US$200 million for work across the Caribbean region, either directly or through the Barbados-based Caribbean Development Bank (CDB).
It will support innovative solutions focusing on low-carbon energy, low-carbon public transportation, sustainable infrastructure, coastal management, and energy-efficiency projects.
In addition, the Grenada government announced the start of the implementation of a US$300 million project to create the world’s first “climate-smart city,” with initial support from the Green Climate Fund (GCF) to help catalyse the project, the World Bank said.
It also said an anonymous entrepreneur is investing US$2 million to support the Belize government’s ocean protection efforts, ocean advocacy across the Caribbean, and entrepreneurs deploying business solutions to benefit the ocean like Algas Organics, “which is turning the sargassum nightmare into a business opportunity, creating fertilizer to support a thriving agricultural sector in the Caribbean.” (CMC)