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 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 catalyse an ambitious USD$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 catalysing 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.
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.
According to the Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit of Dominica, one of the hardest hit islands during the ravenous 2017 hurricane season, 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.
Indeed, these small island deveoping states can become more climate reslient when the right funding is made easily accessible to buffer the effects of climate change and are coming and will continue to come.
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.”
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.