An impressive coalition made up of 26 Caribbean nations, more than 40 private sector giants, 8-time Olympic gold medal winner Usain Bolt, and global music superstar Sean Paul are combining to launch the $1 billion Caribbean Climate-Smart Accelerator intended to make the region the world’s first climate-smart zone.
Announced late last week by what can only be called a cavalcade of stars and parade of nations, the Caribbean Climate-Smart Accelerator was launched with pomp and ceremony and attended by the Prime Minister of Jamaica Andrew Holness, President of the InterAmerican Development Bank Luis Alberto Moreno, Virgin Group Founder Sir Richard Branson, World Bank Vice President for Latin America and the Caribbean, Jorge Familiar, and 8-time Olympic Gold Medal Winner Usain Bolt.
The Caribbean Climate-Smart Accelerator bills itself as bringing together “an unprecedented group of leaders to implement transformative climate action” throughout the Caribbean, stemming from a high-level commitment made at French President Macron’s One Planet Summit (which we covered at the time). The Accelerator intends to work to make the Caribbean the world’s first climate-smart zone which will include the implementation of solutions for resilience, renewable energy, development of sustainable cities, oceans, and transportation. Beyond simply protecting the Caribbean region, the climate-smart zone will aim to create jobs and a new economy.
“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,” explained Prime Minister of Jamaica, Andrew Holness. “The Caribbean Accelerator will also encourage job creation, social inclusion, and economic growth. These benefits will only come when Governments, the international community, and the private sector work together to overcome barriers and generate the investment that will benefit us all. That is why I am excited by the potential of the Accelerator to join the Caribbean with global partners who share our vision to see investment grow in the years ahead.”
One of the initial projects to be launched was the InterAmerican Development Bank’s (IDB) $1 billion commitment to climate-smart investments, fulfilling its $1 billion commitment it made at the Paris One Planet summit. This funding will build on an additional $200 million to support innovative solutions which will focus on low-carbon emissions, sustainable infrastructure, and energy efficiency projects. The IDB also announced that it would commit a further $3 million in start-up funding to the Accelerator to help get the initiative underway.
“The IDB Group reaffirms its continued and historical 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,” said Luis Alberto Moreno, the President of the Inter-American Development Bank. “We hope that through this Climate Smart Coalition, 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.”
The World Bank Group announced a three-year commitment of $1 million annually in in-kind services for the Accelerator, on top of its existing support for the region which adds up to almost $2 billion in projects aimed at strengthening resilience and financial protection against disasters.
“We are committed to a stronger, more resilient, and climate-smart Caribbean,” added Jorge Familiar, World Bank Vice President for Latin America and the Caribbean. “Working together, bringing in international partners and increasing private sector participation will be key to maximize financing for development and create opportunities for all.”
The Government of Grenada announced the beginning of a $300 million project to create the world’s first “climate-smart city” with initial support from the Green Climate Fund.
In an attempt to expand the reach of the Accelerator and the need for action across the Caribbean, both Usain Bolt and Grammy award-winning musician Sean Paul were introduced as Ambassadors of the Accelerator. On top of his ambassadorial role, Usain Bolt also announced an annual $50,000 climate-smart “Speed Award” which will identify the best initiatives across countries, companies, communities, and individuals working towards a climate-smart zone.
Countries which have already signed up to the Accelerator include: Grenada, St. Lucia, Dominica, Jamaica, Montserrat, Turks and Caicos, St. Kitts & Nevis, Antigua & Barbuda, US Virgin Islands, Anguilla, British Virgin Islands, Belize, Barbados, Bahamas, Guyana, Suriname, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Aruba, Curacao, Bonaire, St Vincent & The Grenadines, Panama, Haiti, Mexico, and Honduras.
In addition to the involvement of Caribbean nations and developmental banks, the Accelerator will also involve the cooperation and support of more than 40 public and private sector organizations, including names such as Bill Gates of Microsoft, the Clinton Foundation, Airbnb, Tesla, Richard Branson’s The Virgin Group, and PwC.
“Our goal is ambitious and bold: we are creating the world’s first climate-smart zone,” said Sir Richard Branson. “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.”