Imbert: Caribbean must become energy efficient

Date: 
Thursday, June 6, 2019 - 11:30

The Caribbean must as­pire to be en­er­gy ef­fi­cient as the re­gion is one of the world’s largest un­tapped sources of re­new­able en­er­gy, with po­ten­tial in so­lar, wind, ge­ot­her­mal and ma­rine en­er­gy.

This was the ap­peal from act­ing Prime Min­is­ter Colm Im­bert as he ad­dressed the open­ing of the Caribbean De­vel­op­ment Bank’s (CDB) 49th an­nu­al meet­ing of the Board of Gov­er­nors at the Hy­att Re­gency ho­tel in Port-of-Spain yes­ter­day.

Im­bert said this year’s theme, ti­tled “Trans­for­ma­tion,” was ap­pro­pri­ate giv­en the re­gion’s cur­rent de­vel­op­men­tal con­text.

“We are at a crit­i­cal junc­ture in the de­vel­op­ment of our re­gion, where build­ing and strength­en­ing re­silience to ex­ter­nal and in­ter­nal vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties is of ut­most im­por­tance for putting our de­vel­op­ment on a sus­tained ba­sis,” Im­bert said.

Not­ing that the rate of growth in the Caribbean is not as high as Chi­na or In­dia, Im­bert said the re­gion is do­ing well in terms of glob­al eco­nom­ic threats.

“Whether it’s one per cent or two per cent. I think this is a great achieve­ment of the Caribbean re­gion,” he said.

“We must trans­form our so­ci­eties to points where, as Small Is­land De­vel­op­ing States (SIDS), our growth is ro­bust and in­clu­sive, new means of fi­nanc­ing are reg­u­lar­ly sourced and our states be­come more cli­mate re­silient.”

He al­so urged states to har­ness the vast po­ten­tial of the ocean to boost eco­nom­ic growth, tack­le un­em­ploy­ment and strength­en food se­cu­ri­ty.

In­no­va­tion and us­ing green tech­nol­o­gy, Im­bert said, were al­so crit­i­cal fac­tors in de­vel­op­ment.

“We must al­so have an en­vi­ron­men­tal­ly con­scious pop­u­la­tion. As a peo­ple, we must have a com­mon vi­sion of where we want this trans­for­ma­tion­al process to take us and how we in­tend to ar­rive at that des­ti­na­tion,” Im­bert ad­vised.

Trans­for­ma­tion, the Fi­nance Min­is­ter added, must en­cour­age the use of re­new­ables and en­er­gy ef­fi­cien­cy and en­er­gy con­ser­va­tion to re­duce de­pen­den­cy on fos­sil fu­els.

Plan­ning Min­is­ter Camille Robin­son-Reg­is, who al­so spoke at the event, said the mul­ti-faceted chal­lenges fac­ing SIDs re­quire a “bold, risk-tak­ing, no-non­sense ap­proach.”

“It re­quires the in­no­va­tion and adop­tion of new poli­cies and new ways of fi­nanc­ing and the nur­tur­ing of ex­ist­ing part­ner­ships, even as we seek out new ones,” Robin­son-Reg­is said.

She added that the re­gion should not be de­fined by the chal­lenges it faces but rather the man­ner in which it re­sponds to and over­comes these chal­lenges.

“How do we rise above these emer­gent chal­lenges? In a world where eco­nom­ic and po­lit­i­cal blocks are seem­ing­ly be­ing bro­ken and tar­iff walls are es­ca­lat­ing amongst our ma­jor trad­ing part­ners ... how do we repo­si­tion our­selves as a re­gion so our col­lec­tive voice is heard in the in­ter­na­tion­al mar­ket space?” Robin­son-Reg­is asked.

She said fun­da­men­tal to de­vel­op­ment and change is the need for trans­for­ma­tive in­ter­ven­tions to ad­dress the chal­lenges cur­rent­ly fac­ing the re­gion.

“In­ter­na­tion­al­ly, the threat of hu­man-dri­ven cli­mate change presents de­vel­op­ment chal­lenges,” she not­ed, adding that the dig­i­tal en­vi­ron­ment al­so con­tin­ues to change the way in which peo­ple work, live and op­er­ate.

“More of our tra­di­tion­al jobs are be­com­ing ob­so­lete and the flow of work to which we have grown ac­cus­tomed is be­ing dis­rupt­ed,” Robin­son-Reg­is added.

This is the fifth time that the CDB’s an­nu­al meet­ing is be­ing held in T&T, which is one of its found­ing mem­bers.

Report: Geisha Kowlessar-Alonzo

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