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.