A coalition of 26 Caribbean nations is joining forces to drive forward low-carbon and climate-smart solutions.
The group of countries, including Jamaica, St Lucia and Barbados, will work to develop sustainable societies which can respond to the growing threats posed by climate change.
The coalition is joined by 40 private sector organisations, including the Clinton Foundation, Tesla and the Virgin Group.
$1 billion has already been pledged to kick start work on the project, called the Caribbean Climate Smart Accelerator.
Speaking at the launch event in Kingston last week, Prime Minister of Jamaica, Andrew Holness said: “Being climate-smart means putting the people of the Caribbean at the centre of all we do – to protect them from the challenges of climate change. The Caribbean Accelerator will also encourage job creation, social inclusion and economic growth.”
Sir Richard Branson, who also spoke at the event, added: “Our goal is ambitious and bold: we are creating the world’s first climate-smart zone. We have a vision of a Caribbean which is greener, stronger and more resilient than ever before – built on innovation, powered by clean, sustainable energy and accelerated by public and private investment.”
The coalition is defining a climate-smart zone as one which reduces emissions and vulnerability to climate change while enhancing ecosystems, energy security and food security.
The Inter-American Development Bank has played an instrumental role in bringing the heads of government and businesses together on the project. Its president, Luis Alberto Moreno said the bank will offer affordable financing to support the venture. The IDB recently announced $500 million to support Barbados, Jamaica, Suriname and The Bahamas in the wake of last year’s natural disasters.
President Moreno added: “The IDB Group reaffirms its commitment to the Caribbean and will work with leaders of the region to improve lives by creating climate-smart and vibrant economies, where people are safe, productive, and happy. Through this Climate-Smart Accelerator, in addition to offering new affordable financing, we will use the IDB’s extensive regional experience and presence on the ground to work closely with the people of the region to design their Caribbean of the future, today.”