- Minister Paulwell said there must be a greater level of predictability in regional supply to ensure energy security.
- Caribbean countries account for half of the top 10 most expensive energy prices.
- The Minister expressed confidence that by the end of the conference, an agreement will be produced.
Minister of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining, Hon. Phillip Paulwell, has called on regional leaders and governments to act in solidarity to arrive at sustainable solutions, policies and initiatives that will guide energy development.
He said there must be a greater level of predictability in regional supply to ensure energy security.
The Minister was delivering the keynote address at the opening ceremony for the Second Meeting of the Ministers of Energy of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), at the Montego Bay Conference Centre in St. James on October 25.
Mr. Paulwell said that while the region is blessed with abundant natural resources, and enough energy resources to meet the requirements of the entire population, vast disparities exist in access, cost and sustainability.
He pointed to Climatescope 2013, a study conducted by the Inter-American Development Bank’s (IDB) Multilateral Investment Fund and Bloomberg on the cost of energy to end users in Latin America and the Caribbean region, which shows that Caribbean countries account for half of the top 10 most expensive prices.
“As Energy Minister, I can attest to the urgency of reviewing the current state and defining the principles that must guide the future development of the energy sector,” the Minister said.
Mr. Paulwell emphasized that a secure, diversified and affordable energy mix is a development imperative for the countries of the region to achieve the United Nations Millennium Development Goals.”This must be at the heart of our region’s development agenda,” he said.
He also urged the region to address the issue of energy balances, to ensure that growing demand is met.
“The economies of Latin America and the Caribbean are expected to grow collectively by about three per cent annually, and our region’s energy requirements will be commensurate with that growth,” Mr. Paulwell noted.
The Minister expressed confidence that by the end of the conference, an agreement will be produced to reflect the intent of “what will become known as the Montego Bay Declaration on Regional Energy Security and Integration.”
He said the declaration will signify a strengthening of the dialogue, collaboration and unity of the region in tackling the critical issue of energy.
Over 70 delegates representing some 22 states and regional organisations, including the Latin American Energy Organization (OLADE), the Development Bank of Latin America (CAF), and the Bolivarian Alliance of the Peoples of our America (ALBA), CARICOM and PetroCaribe are participating in the two-day conference, which ends today.
In the meantime, State Minister in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Hon. Arnaldo Brown, said that Jamaica’s determination to host this important energy meeting is evidence of the high priority that the government accords the issue, “bearing in mind our common resolve towards achieving energy efficiency and security for the region.”
“We are mindful that there are numerous challenges to overcome, but we must remain committed to realizing a regional energy mix that maximizes the potential of the diverse and unique resources of all 33 member states of the community,” he said.
The State Minister said Jamaica recognizes that CELAC not only projects the identity of Latin America and the Caribbean, but it also encourages dialogue that promotes tangible outcomes.
“This Ministerial meeting therefore, raises the expectation that, given the importance of energy to our region, we will use all efforts to find workable solutions to address our energy needs,” he said.