Kingston | Jamaica
Over the last few months, the Caribbean has made its ambition of becoming the world’s first ‘climate-smart zone’ very clear. At an intimate launch this programme was officially launched with the help of Sir Richard Branson, Prime Minister of Jamaica, The Most Honourable Andrew Holness, President of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), Luis Alberto Moreno and World Bank Vice President for Latin America and the Caribbean, Jorge Familiar.
The programme sees an unprecedented coalition of 26 countries and in excess of 40 public and private sector partners work together to implement sustainable climate solutions for renewable energy, resilience, development of sustainable cities, oceans and transportation. The new climate-smart zone will not only protect the Caribbean and its surrounds but will create a new economy in climate-smart infrastructure and by doing so create a multitude of permanent jobs with an enormous amount of support from Sir Richard Branson. Speaking at the launch, Prime Minister of Jamaica, Andrew Holness said:
“Being climate-smart means putting the people of the Caribbean at the centre of all we do – to protect them from the challenges of climate change. The Caribbean Accelerator will also encourage job creation, social inclusion and economic growth. These benefits will only come when Governments, the international community and the private sector work together to overcome barriers and generate the investment that will benefit us all. That is why I am excited by the potential of the Accelerator to join the Caribbean with global partners who share our vision to see investment grow in the years ahead.”
Another well-known face, adding his support and influence to this programme, who was in attendance was the 8 Times Olympic Gold Medal Winner Usain Bolt. The programme was first announced in Paris in December 2018 and has since then grown from the cooperation of 11 Caribbean countries to 26. At the launch of the event Sir Richard Branson stated during his speech:
“Our goal is ambitious and bold: we are creating the world’s first climate-smart zone. We have a vision of a Caribbean which is greener, stronger and more resilient than ever before – built on innovation, powered by clean, sustainable energy and accelerated by public and private investment.”
The Caribbean Accelerator has a vision which builds from the strategies of regional governments and agencies, including CARICOM and OECS. Although it has only just launched, it has already started to lay the foundations for success with initial Caribbean Climate-Smart projects including:
- IDB’s US$1billion commitment to climate-smart investments: The Inter-American Development Bank announced that it will partner with the Accelerator to program and implement the additional $1 billion in funds that it pledged for climate smart-investments across the Caribbean region at the Paris One Planet summit. This additional funding will build on an existing portfolio of over $200 million to support innovative solutions focusing on low carbon emissions, sustainable infrastructure and energy efficiency projects in the wake of natural disasters, drawing from low-cost blended finance and contingent credit facilities.
- The IDB also announced that they will provide $3 million as start-up funds to the Accelerator to help get this important initiative successfully up and running, with the first $1.5 million available this year.
- Grenada Climate Smart City: The Government of Grenada announced the start of the implementation of a $300m project to create the world’s first “climate-smart city” with initial support from the Green Climate Fund (GCF) to help catalyse the project. Closely following a recent GCF investment into Grenada for a $48.7m climate-smart water project.
- Ocean Resiliency: An anonymous entrepreneur is investing $2m 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.
- The World Bank Group: The World Bank announced a three-year commitment of $1 million annually in in-kind services for the Accelerator and is supporting Caribbean countries with an almost US$2 billion portfolio focused on strengthening resilience and financial protection against disasters – including US$1 billion in concessional financing from the International Development Association (IDA).
- Airbnb: In partnership with the Accelerator, Airbnb is helping to weave a community of hosts who are ready to respond and build a more resilient Caribbean. The company is doing this by allowing hosts to open their homes to disaster survivors and relief workers free of charge. Hosts waive their fees and Airbnb waives theirs. To date, over 11,000 people in need have been housed through the Open Homes program and it’s now expanded to the Caribbean.
- Zero Mass Water, a member of Breakthrough Energy Coalition, are solving the drinking water problems for the pediatric wards of 2 major hospitals in Jamaica, through the installation of 20 of their Source Hydropanls, which will make clean, filtered drinking water out of the air for the next fifteen years.
- Accelerator Speed Award: Usain Bolt announced an annual climate-smart “Speed Award”. Identifying the best initiatives across countries, companies, communities and individuals. The first winners will be announced in June 2019.
- Sean Paul, a Grammy award-winning Jamaican Musician, was announced as an official Ambassador of the Accelerator, with a focus on Oceans.
- The TIDES Foundation announced a generous grant of $200,000 to the Accelerator.
Luis Alberto Moreno, the President of the Inter-American Development Bank, stated:
“The IDB Group reaffirms its continued and historical commitment to the Caribbean and will work with leaders of the region to improve lives by creating climate-smart and vibrant economies, where people are safe, productive, and happy. We hope that through this Climate Smart Coalition, in addition to offering new affordable financing, we will use the IDB’s extensive regional experience and presence on the ground to work closely with the people of the region to design their Caribbean of the future, today.”
Images: Adrian Creary