Kingston, 23 February 2015 – The transition to a green economy in the Caribbean region took an important step forward today in Kingston, Jamaica, as representatives from over 10 countries from around the region gathered for the second Caribbean Green Economy Conference (CGEC), hosted by Government of Jamaica and the United Nations Environment Programme with the support of European Union.
During the two day conference (23-24 February), Ministers and high level representatives from civil society, academia and the private sector explored the theme of implementing Small Island Developing States (SIDS) Accelerated Modalities of Action (SAMOA) in the Caribbean through green economy.
Some of the issues tackled include the impact of fiscal and macroeconomic policies, investment opportunities and new initiatives that Caribbean countries have undertaken to advance the transition to a green economy in the region. The conference also identifed key priorities and capacity needs for implementing the SAMOA Pathway and achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through green economy.
“The Government of Montserrat is currently pursuing a green energy agenda which seeks to explore and exploit the geothermal resources of the island as a first priority. We expect to reduce the reliance on the use of fossil fuel generators to produce electricity within the next three years”, said Montserrat’s Minister of Agriculture, Trade, Land, Housing and the Environment, Hon. Claude E. S. Hogan.
“Montserrat is also searching for an investor in solar energy to supplement its peak energy requirements and to provide a consistent and stable energy market. The island could be soon viewed as a green country pilot project in the Caribbean”, the Minister added.
The conference, organized under the auspices of a collaborative initiative of UNEP and the University of the West Indies, also explored the options and opportunities for establishing a green economy network as a live platform for sharing national experiences and further strengthening intra-Caribbean and intra-SIDS cooperation in the area. This network is expected to connect a vibrant community of policy makers, practitioners and academics who are focused on achieving poverty reduction and sustainable development through green economy policies.
“Much of the interest in green economy in the Caribbean stems from a realization that economic performance depends in large measure on wise stewardship of the environment and the ability to create prosperity within local ecological boundaries”, said Steven Stone, Chief, Economics and Trade Branch (ETB), Green Economy Initiative, UNEP. “For example, many Caribbean countries clearly see the need to reduce dependence on fossil fuels and develop greater self-reliance on renewable energies that reduce the fiscal burden and improve local environmental and living conditions. By better harnessing local endowments of natural resources, there is great opportunity to shift investments and the overall economy to a more sustainable footing, relying for example on alternative energy sources and enhancing energy efficiency to create jobs, reduce exposure to petroleum price volatility, and decrease environmental liabilities and risks.”
Caribbean countries have already made significant progress on green economy. Jamaica, for instance, is expected to become one of the leading countries in terms of percentage of electricity generated from wind, while Barbados is a world leader in the area of solar water heating, in terms of number of installations per capita.
A special highlight was the presentation of the Green Economy Training Manual produced by the University of the West Indies, to form the basis of a course in the field of green economy. Graduate students and policymakers alike will have an important tool for improving their capacity on sustainable growth models for the future.
From left: Minister Claude Hogan, Montserrat; Minister Denis Lowe, Barbados; Minister Robert Pickersgill, Jamaica; Minister Clifton Clayton Fitzroy Burgin, Saint Vincent and Grenadines; a representative from the University of the West Indies; Asad Naqvi, ETB UNEP; Arun Kashyan, UN Resident Coordinator UNDP Jamaica.
From left: Asad Naqvi, ETB UNEP; Minister Robert Pickersgill, Jamaica, and Minister Clifton Clayton Fitzroy Burgin, Saint Vincent and Grenadines.
High Level Opening Session