Those were some of the key takeaways from the first full day of discussions of the Caribbean Sustainable Energy Forum (CSEF) VI now underway at the Belize Ocean Club in Placencia. The Forum is being held under the theme ‘Clean Energy, Good Governance & Regulations.
CSEF formally opened on Sunday evening and discussions began in earnest on Monday morning. Former Prime Minister of Aruba, Mr. Michiel Eman, set the tone with his emphasis on the pursuit of clean energy as part of an obligation to protect the “resources we have been blessed with”, as well as a journey that had profound meaning for the quality of life of citizens of the Caribbean.
Sharing information and opportunities, Mr. Eman said, gave the journey a “deeper” meaning to society. It would engender a sense of commitment and shared responsibilities
He pointed out that the future was based on renewables and that the Region had to find new financial opportunities towards fruition.
He called on Forum participants to think not only of lowering energy prices, but about how those savings could benefit society and create the environment for prosperity for everyone.
His was a view that the Hon. Ian ‘Patches’ Liburd, Minister of Public Infrastructure, Post, Urban Development and Transport of St. Kitts and Nevis, shared. He was a member of the High Level Ministerial Panel that led discussions under the theme ‘Establishing the Recipe and Identifying the Ingredients for Regional Security and Climate Resilience’.
Traditionally, he told the scores of delegates, the focus of marketing the Caribbean was on sun, sand and sea. Now, emphasis needed to be placed on sunshine, and other “blessings of nature” such as wind and volcanoes.
The Minister urged Forum participants to see energy security as important to continuing the development and economic growth of the Caribbean. It was important, he said, that everyone, irrespective of their status, had access to affordable energy.
The achievement of energy security, and climate resilience, he said, meant that the Region had to “move away from the tired arguments” of scale and size of economies and submit to bankability of projects. “Only then can we establish the recipe for regional security and climate resilience,” he said.
Member of the high level panel, Ms. Nicole Olivierre, Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Energy and Energy Industries of Trinidad and Tobago, drove home the point that the Region had to take full control of its renewable sources of energy. She called for the “sharing and pooling” of resources to growing the renewable energy capacity of the Region and stressed that the Region had to take full control of its own energy supplies. Countries had to find a way to finance the exploitation of their own energy sources, she added.
Panel discussions and presentations during the day tackled subjects such as geopolitics, climate change and energy governance; the role of CCREEE in envisioning the acceleration of a clean energy marketing development in CARICOM; reducing the implementation deficit; island-appropriate clean energy development, making the Caribbean climate-smart and the clean energy transition in CARICOM.
On Tuesday, Belize will share its experiences with energy transition. Focus during the day will also continue to be placed on energy governance as well as regulation.
Two concurrent technical workshops will be held on Wednesday. They will address Utility Business models and Innovation in rate-making and Implementation of Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) in the Energy and Transport Sectors.
The CSEF VI is being co-hosted by the CARICOM Secretariat and the Government of Belize, in partnership with the Caribbean Electric Utility Services Corporation (CARILEC) and the Organisation of Caribbean Utility Regulators (OOCUR).
Key sponsorship and technical support for the staging of the CSEF VI will be provided by the TAPSEC, which is being implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit GmbH (GIZ); the Caribbean Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (CCREEE); the Organisation of American States (OAS); the Public Utilities Commission (PUC); Belize Electricity Limited; and the CARICOM Development Fund (CDF).