Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator the Hon. Kamina Johnson Smith, has welcomed the launch of the Caribbean Climate-Smart Accelerator Programme.
She said the initiative reflects the region’s determination to make the Caribbean the first climate smart zone, in pursuant of the first of 12 international commitments emanating from the One Planet Summit held in Paris in December 2017.
Senator Johnson Smith was speaking at the official launch of the accelerator at The University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona campus, on August 9.
The Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Minister noted that as citizens of small-island developing states, and inhabitants of the second most disaster-affected region in the world “our dependence on key economic and climate sensitive sectors, such as tourism, agriculture and fisheries, brings our vulnerability into sharp focus.”
“It is for this reason that building resilience must be of the highest priority for the Caribbean community. The accelerator is therefore a most timely venture and will respond to the innovative approaches which CARICOM Heads called for at their meeting in Montego Bay just last month,” she said.
She argued that the region’s experience with natural disasters, reflected in gross domestic product (GDP) loss, infrastructural damage, and the impact on lives and livelihoods “dictate loudly why we must build and build back better and stronger.”
Senator Johnson Smith said that the accelerator programme should benefit from the results of last year’s Caribbean Action 2030: Regional Conference on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which was held at the Mona campus of The UWI.
“We created an important regional space to collectively monitor and evaluate the implementation of the SDGs and I’m confident that the results of that conference will directly complement the initiative being launched today,” Senator Johnson Smith said.
So far, some 26 countries and more than 40 partners have joined the accelerator, which seeks to transform the region’s economy by fast-tracking sound public and private investment opportunities that support climate solutions for resilience, social development and broad-based growth for the Caribbean.
The climate-smart zone will not only protect the region but create jobs and a new economy in climate-smart infrastructure.
Core partners include the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the World Bank, CARICOM, and the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS).
Over the next five years, the accelerator will create the right environment for private and public funds to flow into investments in clean energy, building resilience and climate-smart cities and healthy oceans.