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Remarks for CIPORE Workshop II

Danielle Evanson, Project Coordinator, UNDP Barbados and the OECS
Kingston, Jamaica
23-24 April 2009

Good morning colleagues. I greet you on behalf of the UNDP Resident Representative and the UNDP Sub-regional Office in Barbados. UNDP Barbados and the OECS is very pleased to be able to partner with CEIS, SRC and CARICOM to bring this information platform to fruition as it is a very significant milestone in the region’s pathway toward a more sustainable energy sector.

As Earth Day was celebrated across the globe yesterday we are reminded of the increasingly urgent problems of climate change and environmental degradation. UNDP considers climate change to be an issue which pervades the entire development agenda; therefore we are taking increasing steps to integrate climate change into all of our thematic areas: energy and environment, disaster risk reduction, poverty reduction and democratic governance.

While the Caribbean does not contribute significantly to global greenhouse gas emissions, we are heavily dependent on the importation of fossil fuels that cause these emissions. And as this latest energy crisis has shown, this dependence can be highly disruptive to national economies and individual livelihoods. Heavy impacts were felt in the transportation, industrial and tourism sectors, food imports and agriculture, electricity costs, levels of poverty and the overall cost of living. Efforts to use more renewable forms of energy and to maximise sustainable use of indigenous resources will be needed to secure the region’s energy future. UNDP views CIPORE as an essential mechanism in this direction.

It is imperative to have access to accurate and current data in order to effectively plan any initiative and assess its impact. Baseline data is necessary to understand the starting point and the gaps to be filled; and continuous data collection reveals the actual changes that are occurring as a result of the initiative. As we know availability and access to data in this region continues to prove difficult, which I have become acutely aware of as I’ve worked in the environmental management arena for the last few years. It may exist, but no one will release it. It may be there but not in a form that’s usable. Datasets may be incomplete or collected only periodically for specific projects. Or there may be none at all. This presents many challenges in terms of designing effective interventions, informed decision making, and being able to monitor the ensuing changes or improvements.

However, UNDP sees CIPORE as a solution for many deficiencies in this data and knowledge management context within the Caribbean. It provides a central and convenient location for easily storing and sharing data; as well as creating opportunities for direct interaction between stakeholders and potential future partners. Such linkages can lead to broader collaboration on projects, improvement of project design, greater access to resource inputs and capacity, and more intimate involvement of beneficiaries. Critically, CIPORE allows stakeholders in the sector to be aware of current and past activities or projects, and lessons learned so that they will be able to plan and build on work already done, instead of blindly replicating the efforts of others.

UNDP Barbados’ work in the specific area of energy is only two years old. Under the “Bioenergy in the Caribbean” project, which has helped to support this process today, we have sought to facilitate South-South cooperation and dialogue throughout the sub-region even as we assist the countries in their progress to provide more sustainable energy services for their people. On our website, I continuously update project activities, so I’ll be putting up information about this workshop and the launch when I return to the office.

We have an ongoing relationship with a regional NGO, the Caribbean Youth Environment Network (CYEN). Presently, as a part of Earth Day activities we are partnering with them to host national fora in five countries on energy, climate change and sustainable development. Participating countries are Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, BVI, St. Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Through linkages provided by the 5Cs, we have and are enabling execution of a number of capacity building exercises across the region. We’ve worked with the Caribbean Electric Utility Services Corporation (CARILEC) to provide training for a number of electrical engineers and technicians on photovoltaic technology. The participants were very receptive and interactive during the two-day workshop. St. Vincent is currently looking into expanding its renewable energy portfolio and since then VINLEC has requested further training in wind energy. CARILEC is continuing to seek support for this, and similar training activities. We may also help support a geothermal workshop in St. Kitts.

UNDP will also be supporting CEIS in the coming months in the training of CXC and CAPE science teachers on energy related issues. We view this as vital in increasing the awareness of energy and environment issues through the formal education system, and laud CEIS’ efforts in this regard.

Recognising the importance and fruitfulness of this partnership, UNDP’s collaboration with CEIS will continue as we are currently negotiating to undertake research in a number of islands across the region into the effectiveness of the interventions in energy relating to renewables, conservation and efficiency over the last decade. The information that we hope to glean will give an indication of how far the region has progressed in reducing its dependence on imported fossil fuels, and where gaps and barriers remain that future interventions may be targeted. Support is welcome from other partners as we try to incorporate as many Caribbean countries as possible.

Incidentally we had also planned to create an online knowledge management platform, which was envisioned to be much like this one. So imagine my excitement when I found out that CIPORE was already underway. But again, this emphasises the need to know what other people are doing, so that whatever you plan to do is complementary or additive, not duplicative.

I look forward to sharing these two days with you learning about this innovative, interactive and important tool, which UNDP views as an integral implement in advancing the progress towards effective planning and management of a more secure regional energy sector. Thank you.

Category/ies:Regional Speeches.
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