The Seventh Caribbean Sustainable Energy Forum (CSEF) – hosted by the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat and the Caribbean Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (CCREEE) - kicked off yesterday, seeking to address the most pressing sustainable energy challenges and opportunities facing the region.
The Forum falls within the annual observance of CARICOM Energy Month, which this year is under the theme, From Dependence to Resilience: Fuelling our Recovery with Sustainable Energy. The hybrid Forum is being held after it was deferred last year in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and comes on the heels of the just-concluded United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 26).
Hosted live at the Hilton Barbados Resort and streamed globally, the Forum boasted the presence and participation of key regional actors within the energy sector. The keynote address was provided by Barbados’ Honourable Minister of Energy, Small Business and Entrepreneurship, Kerrie Symmonds who remarked that sustainable development – whether alternative or renewable energy - must be at the forefront of transforming our regional economies. The honourable minister further highlighted the challenges the region faces, sharing:
“…our geographical predisposition of being exposed to sudden and disastrous exogenous shocks…places us all on the front line in the fight against climate change. Equally significant is the fact that we’re also vulnerable to the wavering international financial commitments to the mitigation and adaptation strategies which the world must adopt.” Minister Symmonds also highlighted Barbados’ commitment to all regional cooperation intended to wean the region away from an unhealthy dependence on fossil fuels, through support for regional organisations, including the hosting of the Caribbean Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (CCREEE).
Further recognising the role regional integration plays in advancing the sustainable energy agenda and building resilience, newly appointed Deputy Secretary General (DSG) of CARICOM Dr Armstrong Alexis noted that CSEF’s actualisation is a lesson in resilience. “Disruptions serve as reminders of the challenges CARICOM countries continue to face which often stymy progress and expose us to external shocks”, he said. DSG Alexis added that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought the region’s vulnerability into sharp focus.
Ambassador of the European Union to Barbados, the OECS and CARICOM, Her Excellency Malgorzata Wasilewska, echoed sentiments from the Honourable Prime Minister of Barbados, Mia Mottley that “it is enough talking; we need action now.” Noting additionally that sustainable energy is a key element of the energy transition, Ambassador Wasilewska remarked: “I wish that your discussions at this Forum become actions as soon as possible; we [EU] will do everything in our power to accompany you on that front.”
In her accompanying remarks, Canada’s High Commissioner to Barbados and the OECS, Her Excellency Lilian Chatterjee expressed her pleasure at being able to partner on this event and to assist CARICOM Member States with the transition to energy independence. She stated, “we recognise that Caribbean SIDS are highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and other external economic shocks, including fuel price variability. Reducing reliance on fossil fuels in the islands is therefore not just about reducing carbon emissions but also, about economic resilience.”
Other notable live and virtual guests included Dr Gary Jackson, Executive Director of the CCREEE and Dr Devon Gardner, Head of the Energy Unit, CARICOM Secretariat. The three-day Forum continues through November 24 with sessions focused on building an enabling environment, enabling implementation, and assessing the energy profiles of CARICOM Member States. CARICOM Energy Month events and activities continue throughout the remaining days of November.
To register for CSEF or CARICOM Energy Month events please visit: https://cem2021caricom.org/
To access the complete media kit (recording of the launch, photos, extended agenda), please follow the hyperlink.