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REMARKS BY AMBASSADOR IRWIN LAROCQUE, ASSISTANT SECRETARY-GENERAL, TRADE AND ECONOMIC INTEGRATION, CARICOM SECRETARIAT, AT THE LAUNCH AND OPERATIONAL PLANNING MEETING FOR CRECS, C-SERMS, SETA INITIATIVES, AT THE GRAND BARBADOS HOTEL, BARBADOS, 24 JANUARY 2011

It is indeed my pleasure to make some remarks on this important occasion. Let me first convey greetings from the acting Secretary-General, Ambassador Lolita Applewhaite.

I wish also to welcome everyone to this Launch and Operational Planning Meeting for Sustainable Energy Initiatives, and to specially recognize the Honorable Ministers, who have taken time from their busy schedule to be with us.

As you are aware, we are here to launch and advance the implementation of three important Sustainable Energy Initiatives aimed at assisting Member States and Associate Members of CARICOM in their drive towards greater use of renewable energy and improved energy efficiency. These are the:

Caribbean Renewable Capacity Support (CRECS) Project funded by the European Union;

The development of a Caribbean Sustainable Road Map and Strategy (C-SERMS) funded by the Inter-American Development Bank; and

The OECS Sustainable Energy Technical Assistance (SETA) Project funded by the Caribbean Development Bank.

The objective of pursuing increased use of renewable energy and energy efficiency remains a priority for the Caribbean Community because of the importance of energy in economic development and competitiveness, and the fact that as a Region, our small economies remain highly vulnerable to increases in oil prices on the world market. In fact, there have been some worrying signs over the past months as the recent upward trend in oil prices are beginning once again to negatively impact global food prices.

Therefore, while we understand that petroleum will continue to have a dominant role well into the future, we must make all the necessary efforts to diversify our energy supplies, especially for the electricity sector, as well as limit the rate of growth in energy consumption through energy efficiency. I think it’s fair to say that Member States are increasingly recognizing the need to make the transition towards greater utilization of renewable energy and increased energy efficiency. Perhaps this owes much to the importunate Climate Change agenda, but we must not overlook the role played by the Caribbean Renewable Energy Development Programme (CREDP). Despite its many challenges, and some may say shortcomings, CREDP has significantly raised awareness in the Region about the role of renewable energy. In fact, the Caribbean Renewable Energy Capacity Support (CRECS) Project being launched today was conceived under CREDP to build on the foundation laid by that Project which was funded by the Global Environmental Facility (GEF) and implemented by the UNDP with the CARICOM Secretariat as executing Agency.

I would like to recognize the important role of the UNDP in the regional energy sector. The CREDP/GTZ Component which is in its second Phase until 2012 is also making a significant contribution to Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy development. I also recognize the robust and sustained contribution of the Federal Government of the Republic of Germany through the GTZ towards sustainable energy development in the Region.

The CARICOM Secretariat is committed to playing its role in making the transition towards greater utilization of renewable energy by assisting Member States with policy coordination, resource mobilization and capacity building. In this regard, the Energy Unit which was established in 2008 within the Directorate of Trade and Economic Integration has been making some steady progress. In addition to the projects being launched today, the CARICOM Secretariat received in December 2010 a commitment from the Government of the Federal Republic of Germany to make 4.5 Million Euros available for the “Support of Institutional Structures for the Promotion of Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency in the Caribbean” which inter alia will support the development of the Caribbean Sustainable Energy Road Map and Strategy and assist Member States in improving their institutional and policy environment to support Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency. Details of that project will be elaborated in the near future.

With all of these various projects, I cannot over- emphasize the need for coordination among the various actors in the area of sustainable energy development given the capacity constraints in Member States. It is important that we make optimal use of human and financial resources in the implementation of energy initiatives with the aim of achieving the greatest benefits. To this end, I believe it is critical that all parties who are involved in the implementation of projects and initiatives collaborate and share information to minimize duplication of efforts. The approach taken today in bringing together stakeholders in relation to these three Initiatives must be seen as part of that collaborative approach toward effective implementation.

Early in 2011, we will be seeking to advance the finalization of the CARICOM Regional Energy Policy. This is a matter which has been outstanding since 2007. You will recall that the Conference of Heads of Government had commissioned a Task Force on Energy to develop a Regional Energy Policy. When the Task Force submitted its report in 2007, our Heads of Government mandated that some further work be done to provide clarity on the issue of energy pricing in CARICOM which would inform the finalization of the Energy Policy. An Energy Pricing Study was completed recently and the draft report has been circulated to Member States for comment. I wish to thank the IDB for the support provided in funding this Study. Despite the many challenges (and indeed there are many) in pursuing a Regional Energy Policy, and notwithstanding the time that elapsed, I do believe that given the critical importance of energy, there needs to be a Community energy policy. We intend to submit the draft policy to a Meeting of CARICOM Energy Ministers before we resubmit it for the consideration of the Conference of Heads in July. We are indeed encouraged by the progress being made at the national level by many Member States in seeking to establish their own energy policies which place priority on sustainable energy development.

In closing, let me point out that Barbados over the years has demonstrated leadership, and continues to do so, in advancing renewable energy development through sustained supportive policy measures. It is therefore quite appropriate for the launch of these sustainable energy initiatives to take place here in Barbados. We do appreciate that the Honorable Minister is here with us today to address the Meeting. Also I must thank Mr. Ronald Bascombe, the Permanent Secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister responsible for Immigration, Telecommunications and Energy, for the support in coordinating this meeting.

I also wish to recognize the continued support of our Development Partners without whom we would not be able to make progress. We thank the European Union for the support provided for the Caribbean Renewable Energy Capacity Support (CRECS) Project, the IDB for the support towards the initial development of the Caribbean Sustainable Energy Roadmap and Strategy (C-SERMS) and the CDB for the support being provided for the Sustainable Energy Technical Assistance Project (SETA) for the OECS countries.

Finally, I wish to thank all you for participating and do wish you successful and fruitful deliberations.

CONTACT: piu@caricom.org



Category/ies:Regional Speeches.
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