Caribbean leaders launch plan for world’s first ‘climate-smart zone’

Keith Mitchell

Caribbean leaders yesterday announced the launch of a new public-private coalition to create the world’s first “climate-smart zone”, according to a release from the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB).

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

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, the release said.

Caribbean leaders brought together a Coalition of global organisations such as the Inter-American Development Bank, the World Bank and the CDB, as well as businesses and supporters from the region and the international community. The Coalition aims to reinvigorate the islands that have been badly hit by recent hurricanes Irma and Maria, and help build more resilient infrastructure and communities across the region.

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.

* Build low-carbon and resilient infrastructure including nature-based approaches, to better cope with 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.

* Bolster 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.”

The release said that 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 set up to catalyse billions of further public and private resources.  

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