The recently concluded EU-Caribbean Sustainable Energy Conference which was held in Barbados from 10-11 October resulted in the signing of a Joint Declaration on Sustainable Energy between the European Union, the European Investment Bank and CARIFORUM on reinforced co-operation in the field of sustainable energy.
In addition, five renewable energy support programmes for the region totalling 54 million euros were also signed at the conference.
These agreements are evidence of the European Union’s commitment to supporting Caribbean countries in meeting their obligations stipulated in the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
The conference focused primarily on CARICOM/CARIFORUM and EU relations. EU countries Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs) and the French Overseas Regions (ORs) were also invited to the conference. The inclusion of all groupings in the region was to emphasise that energy supply vulnerability and fossil fuel dependence are problems not only of the CARIFORUM countries, but of the entire Caribbean.
During the margins of the conference, the European Investment Bank (EIB) signed an agreement with respect to its largest loan in the Caribbean for an energy loss reduction project in the Dominican Republic. The EIB also announced a decision to strengthen engagement across the Eastern Caribbean, by assigning a dedicated investment officer to be stationed in Barbados, Floris Vermeulen.
It was also announced that the European Union (EU) will contribute 11 million euro to support the institutional capacity-building and technical activities of the Caribbean Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (CCREEE), which works under the technical and financial support of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), SIDS DOCK and the Austrian Development Agency. The Centre aims to leverage investment towards renewable energy in the region by fostering partnerships between the EU, Caribbean countries, development partners, and the private sector.
In addressing the conference LI Yong, Director General of UNIDO, expressed his appreciation to the EU for the support, and said: “We believe the Centre will play a critical role in encouraging domestic entrepreneurs and start-ups to take advantage of the growing sustainable energy markets in the Caribbean region. The energy manufacturing and service sector is considered to be a future growth sector, which will offer great business and employment opportunities particularly for small- and medium-sized enterprises and young people.”
Sustainable energy companies from around the world also attended this event as speakers and participants, but also exhibited products in a parallel Business Opportunities Forum.