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Collaboration is key for regional climate action, says speakers at CDB seminar

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados – Collaboration across sectors and between countries, is an absolute imperative if the Caribbean is to face down the coming climate reality, said speakers during the seminar ‘Climate Action in a Post-COVID-19 Environment’, hosted by the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) as part of its ongoing 51st Annual Meeting of its Board of Governors. The seminar was hosted by Dr Colin Young, executive director of the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre.

“I encourage everyone … to think about climate change as a collective challenge that requires a collaborative and coordinated response,” exhorted vice-president, operations of CDB, Isaac Solomon in his opening of the seminar.

“Our region includes many different countries with distinct cultures, institutions and peoples. Yet the challenges we face from climate change are quite similar. We can learn a great deal from one another, support one another, and mount a response to this challenge that benefits all Caribbean countries,” he added during the discussion which was streamed live on CDB’s Facebook and YouTube pages on Thursday, June 24.

In his remarks, Grenada’s minister for climate resilience and the environment, senator Simon Stiell, called for a “whole of society approach.”

“It is not something that governments can do on their own nor is it something that governments can leave the private sector to do themselves,” he stated as the seminar’s discussion turned towards the role of the private sector in climate action.

Dominica’s minister of public works and the digital economy, senator Cassanni Laville, underscored this approach, pointing to his recent past in the private sector and how they responded to the ravages of hurricane Maria in 2017.

“One of the things that resonates is the collaboration, the discussion with the private sector and to ensure that they are completely sensitised on the risks, the challenges and the opportunities. When I think back on the event of hurricane Maria and the government’s attempts to rebuild, I remember we actually added to a fleet of vehicles to assist the government with assessment for various purposes – insurance, building back. Back then in my capacity as [part of the] private sector we [knew we] needed to join the fight because we understood clearly [that] we needed the country to find its way to achieve our restoration and rebuilding efforts,” he recollected.

To help bolster and achieve this private sector buy-in, director of operations at the European Investment Bank (EIB), Maria Shaw-Barragan emphasised the need for collaboration of another kind – regional collaboration. She pointed out that this was especially relevant for the Caribbean, stating:

“In the Caribbean region, the question of scale is particularly difficult because there are a number of small island states and the population per country is not that high. Here, what I would recommend is a regional approach is what is going to be needed and in that sense that is why the Caribbean Development Bank is very valuable because it has this regional approach and diversification when looking at projects.”

During the seminar, minister Stiell highlighted one such project in the Eastern Caribbean where Grenada, Dominica and Antigua are piloting an incentive scheme to encourage private sector participation in carbon emission reduction.

Ambassador Fiona Clouder, the United Kingdom’s Regional ambassador for Latin America and the Caribbean for COP26, also highlighted how critical regional and international collaboration was for Caribbean states in search of development financing to support their climate resilience efforts. She highlighted that finance mobilisation is one of the objectives which the UK government has for COP26, the United Nation’s climate change conference, which UK will host in partnership with Italy later this year in Glasgow.

“Finance is absolutely critical. That is about ensuring that both the donor countries, [keep] their commitment to the 100 billion dollars that was previously promised but it’s also about mobilising all the financial institutions and the private sector. And that’s where the Caribbean Development Bank and the other multilateral development banks have such a valuable role to play. In all of this international collaboration is absolutely paramount – we have to do this together, we cannot do it alone,” stated ambassador Clouder.

Their comments came against the background of the coming climate change challenges for the Caribbean, which were outlined at the start of the seminar in a presentation by Professor Michael Taylor, co-director of the Climate Studies Group Mona of the University of the West Indies.

“The climate science of the Caribbean is suggesting that we have a new multi-hazard climate era that is here,” stated Professor Taylor as he detailed the changes that are underway and will continue to impact the region.



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