Prime Minister Andrew Holness (second left) with (from left) Jorge Familiar, the World Bank’s vice-president for Latin America and the Caribbean; Usain Bolt, Olympian and an ambassador of the Caribbean Climate-Smart Accelerator Programme; and Sir Richard Branson, founder, Virgin Group. Occasion was the launch of the Caribbean Climate-Smart Accelerator programme at The University of the West Indies, Mona, on August 9. A senior World Bank official has encouraged the Caribbean to work together to be both environmentally and fiscally resilient.
In fact, Jorge Familiar, vice-president of the World Bank for Latin America and the Caribbean, is also suggesting that in addition to being climate smart, the region should try to manage resources and save during the good times in order to better confront the bad times.
Familiar was addressing the launch of the Caribbean Climate-Smart Accelerator programme at The University of the West Indies, Mona, on August 9.
The programme — launched by Familiar; Jamaica’s Prime Minister Andrew Holness; Sir Richard Branson, founder, Virgin Airlines; and Luis Alberto Moreno, president of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) — brings together more than 26 countries dedicated to promoting climate-smart action and making the Caribbean the world’s first climate-smart zone.
The World Bank Group has given a three-year commitment of services in kind valued at US$1 million for the accelerator programme and is supporting Caribbean countries with an almost US$2-billion portfolio focused on strengthening resilience and financial protection against disasters, including US$1 billion in concessional financing from the International Development Association.
Noting that “the Caribbean is rich from both the natural and cultural point of view”, Familiar said “in this regard, few regions can compete with the Caribbean”.
Referencing Hurricane Maria last year — regarded as the worst natural disaster on record to affect Dominica and Puerto Rico, and the deadliest Atlantic hurricane since 2005 — Familiar said that “we can expect more, and the Caribbean has no choice but to work together to minimise the effects of future shocks.
“There is a lot we can do to become more resilient — build better, ensure strong health services, preserve water resources, taking care to unleash the full potential of the Blue Economy. We must also take advantage of natural resources like gas in a way that we preserve these assets for the long run,” Familiar said.
He also recommended that Caribbean nations “take greater advantage of traditional lines of credit, trade arrangements, and insurance programmes” to bolster their economies.
In addition to the more than 26 countries involved, the accelerator programme includes over 40 private and public sector partners including the World Bank and the IDB.
Olympian Usain Bolt and recording artiste Sean Paul are ambassadors of the programme and will be promoting the call for climate-smart action in the region and globally.