By Rodger Hutchinson
The commitment came out of a meeting held at the September 7 conclusion of the two-day renewable energy summit in Malta, organised by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).
State Minister for Science, Technology, Energy and Mining (STEM) Julian Robinson, who was Jamaica’s representative at the summit, called the early morning meeting of member states in attendance, to examine how CARICOM, as a regional bloc of countries, can interact with entities like IRENA to source assistance, grants, and other financial instruments “to facilitate joined-up projects rather than compete head on for instruments from the same global financial pie”.
Invariably, he pointed out, many of the smaller countries lose out to the larger and better resourced ones when trying to source financial assistance.
Robinson said that, arising from the meeting, the eight CARICOM countries represented have agreed in principle to work together to complete a renewable energy assessment within the region so that “we know where we are and what support we can lend to each other as well as areas where we can seek collective support.”
He said the members also pledged to “examine the possibilities of harmonising regulations and legislative framework for renewables, which will allow all investors to invest within the region in complement, not competition”. They have also agreed to carry out work with regulators on renewable energy initiatives.
The group also resolved to increase the CARICOM presence in IRENA. Only twocountries, Antigua &Barbuda, and Grenada, are currently members.
The eight CARICOM countries represented at the Malta summit were Jamaica, Antigua & Barbuda, Belize, Barbados, Grenada, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname and Dominica.
Also in attendance was United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Chief of the Caribbean Strategic Monitoring and Support Unit of the Regional Bureau of Latin America and the Caribbean, Ambassador Crispin Gregoire.
Gregoire gave his commitment to working with the region through the UNDP country offices to ensure adequate support in the push for greater renewable energy use.
One of the objectives of the two-day Malta summit was to encourage small developing states, such as Jamaica, to increase their use of renewable energy sources in the overall mix of energy consumption.