• {EDITOR’S NOTE Once again like the Central Bank’s 40th Anniversary, the majority of the speech will be presented, but if you want the REAL story? Please follow all of the captions to get a more accurate picture of what really happened…}

I am pleased to have the opportunity to address you this morning on the occasion of the United Nations “Achieving Energy for All SIDS Conference”. I will also avail myself of this occasion to highlight some important issues in relation to the Informal Ministerial SIDS Rio + 20 Preparatory Meeting which will be held on Wednesday. These two meetings take me back to the first Global Conference on the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States held in Barbados from April 26 to May 6, 1994.

I am delighted to see representatives from states of the Alliance of Small Island States gathered together once again in Barbados, to discuss matters related to sustainable development, focused this time on renewable energy.

See where the video cameras are? BACK of the room... Where are the Main speeches and Panel Discussions? FRONT of the room! Everyone wondered why I rushed to leave after the PM spouted sound & fury, uh, gave his apparently energy conscious address...

Our 1994 conference issued the framework document entitled: The Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States – commonly called the Barbados Programme of Action. In reviewing the status of execution of the policies outlined in that Programme, we note that a fair amount of work remains undone, especially regarding the integration of sustainability principles into mainstream economic policies.

We must however take into account the realities of the world economy in the intervening period, particularly in recent years, exacerbated by the global financial and economic crisis of 2008/2009, and the high levels of, and volatility in, international oil prices over the last three years. These factors, along with the consequential and inevitable rise in food prices, seriously weakened the three pillars of sustainable development – the society, the economy and the environment.

It was very sweet when Aja had pupils bringing candles for a mini-vigil for his appeal to be less power-wasteful... Except his microphone cut out repeatedly and the candles had a purpose when the room slipped into darkness for what seemed like 20 seconds - at Hilton Barbados, supposedly the elite place for Seminars? No wonder the UN had their own sound system on standby!

Climate change impacts, particularly in SIDS, compounded the above and strengthened the calls from the international community for more concerted and concrete action. At the same time, advances in technologies for harnessing renewable energy, and the capacity to increase energy intensities, have made it possible for us to believe that there can be a future for the world beyond the use of fossil fuels.

We in the SIDS have taken careful note of these developments! A paradigm shift clearly needs to be made to put the Small Island Developing States on a more sustainable path. We cannot, however, ignore several important vulnerabilities and constraints relating to SIDS that need to be taken into consideration, namely that we are, in the main :

• open vulnerable economies with limited resource endowments;
• limited in size and depending heavily on international trade;
• particularly vulnerable to natural as well as environmental disasters , with a limited capacity to respond to and recover from such disasters;
• vulnerable to external economic shocks, with limited output and exports, and ever increasing import bills;
• those most impacted by the adverse effects of global climate change and sea level rise, which could make some islands uninhabitable though islands contribute least to the causes of these phenomena;
• highly dependent on imported oil products for power generation, with the resulting electricity tariffs that are among the highest in the world.

At the regional level we realise that high oil prices have severely affected Caribbean competitiveness, with a negative fiscal and macro-economic impact on our fragile economies. For example, Barbados spent US$393,538 million last year on oil imports, or 6% of Gross Domestic Product, which has impacted negatively on direct production costs and the overall competitiveness of the Barbadian economy.

I say, look who's sporting an eyepatch... It's Georgie Hutson, the Minister of Seafood, and you all wondered why I thought he may be pirating strategies for LIAT over REDjet? Choopse! The proof of the pudding, man!

Energy underpins global development and cuts across all sectors of the global economy, helps provide for our basic needs, and powers the technologies that we depend upon to build our future. There is more than enough energy – both conventional and alternative – for each man, woman and child in the world, but one fifth of the world’s population is without access to electricity.

If we ignore the needs of this segment of society we entrench their poverty, yet if we provide them with energy on an unsustainable basis we will further negatively impact the environment. Unless we change our policies to put the international energy sector on a more sustainable path, by the year 2030, 20% of the world’s population will still be without electricity. Collective action and an integrated and multi-faceted approach to harnessing the world’s energy supplies in a sustainable way, are required for the benefit of all who inhabit the planet.

The Permanent Secretary got Michelle Gyles-McDonnough's name wrong when calling her to the dais, one of many blunders that day... There was only a clear view for Photographers after I removed a dumb shrub the Hilton put by the lectern, a staff member challenged me to move it and so I did - then a UN volunteer says I cannot go so close and take pictures, WTF? As I said earlier, as soon as the PM wrapped up? So did I!

At propitious moments in world history, forces have converged to set the stage and lay the groundwork for the establishment of novel initiatives which would otherwise have not seen the light of day, or which would have taken much longer to take root. Such a time is now, when the call for concerted and collective action is being made against a background of a growing sense of self-preservation, and self-interest, as well as a genuine interest in the preservation of the environment for future generations.

The United Nations General Assembly resolution 65/151 of 2010, which declared 2012 as the “International Year of Sustainable Energy for All” reflected the fact that such an initiative was palpably within our reach. As the only representative of a Small Island Developing State on the Secretary General of the United Nations High Level Panel on Global Sustainability, I thought it significant that the Panel endorsed the Sustainable Energy for All Initiative and that the final report reflected this as a priority consideration.

Another hiccough in the whole denouement of the morning's fiasco was that diplomatic passes were not in alphabetical order, so if you expected quick entry if your surname was Brunhilde or Archer? Forget it! It was worse for the journalists, we filled out Accreditation forms for no reason, since ours were printed LAST, wait, we go back of the room they do our name-badges after all others - is our collective name Rosa Parks? In the end they had tags with the generic phrase "MEDIA" well now, that's a secure method for ensuring no intruders infiltrate the forum, eh?

We know that although many SIDS are energy deficient in conventional energy, limitless potential for renewable energy and energy efficiency resides in our countries. The fundamental issue thus is how do we, as small island developing states with inherent structural problems and limited resources, convert this renewable energy potential into a tangible product that is accessible, affordable and adaptable?

Permit me to share with you the experiences of the Government of Barbados in this area.

Our Government is actively promoting sustainable energy practices both on the supply side, mainly using renewable energy sources, and on the demand side, encouraging energy efficiency and energy conservation, in an effort to reduce the country’s dependence on fossil fuels, enhancing security and stability in energy supply, improving the economy’s competitiveness and achieving greater environmental sustainability.

With over 40,000 solar water heaters installed on domestic and commercial buildings in Barbados – the fifth highest penetration of solar water heaters in the world at over 45% – we are using the country’s success in this industry as a platform for renewable energy development. The use of solar water heaters saves consumers over US$12.95 million in energy costs annually. The results in this area have shown clearly that a combination of local entrepreneurial spirit, consumer advocacy, and Government support through the medium of fiscal incentives can lead to a change in the energy use paradigm.

We are now engaged in the reform of the energy sector, which seeks to assist in the promotion of strong and sustained economic growth. To facilitate this process, the Government has undertaken the following renewable energy and energy efficiency activities:

• Completion of a Sustainable Energy Framework with the assistance of the Inter American Development Bank
• Procurement of US$115 million from the Inter-American Development Bank, through two Policy Based Loans, to help modernise the energy sector with the requisite mix of policy, regulatory measures and legislation;
• Development and introduction of appropriate policies, and new legislation to facilitate the sale of electricity to the grid by independent power producers.
• Development of a phase-out plan for all lighting that does not use energy efficiently, and a plan to strengthen the capacity and institutions of the energy sector.
• Establishment of an Energy Smart Fund with the assistance of a S$10 million loan from the Inter-American Development Bank – the Energy Smart Fund being a package of financial instruments and technical assistance to address the main market failures that prevent the country from adopting renewable energy and energy efficiency.
• Negotiations with the Inter-American Development Bank for the establishment of another fund – the Public Sector Smart Energy Fund – to execute various renewable energy and energy efficiency projects in the public sector.
• application of a Global Environmental Facility (GEF) grant towards the installation of 3000 power meters, 15,000 compact fluorescent lamps and 28 photo-voltaic systems in selected households and other places.

We have introduced a separate income tax allowance for the installation of renewable energy and energy efficient systems by individuals and registered small businesses. The Government has also decided to lead by example through a comprehensive energy efficiency programme in the public sector, as we have established that there is potential for 25% to 30% savings on the public sector electricity bill. We expect also that before the end of the year, 19 government-owned buildings will be outfitted with photo-voltaic solar systems with the capacity for the sale of the excess electricity to the grid.

Encouragingly, the findings of the Sustainable Energy Framework suggest that Barbados can substantially improve its energy mix in the next twenty years, when renewable energy generation would account for 29 percent of electricity consumption and the remaining 71 percent would come from conventional fossil fuel-based resources. By 2029 we expect that total electricity costs would have been cut by US$283.5 million and CO2 emissions would have been reduced by 4.5 million tons.

We also envisage an overall 22 percent reduction in projected electricity consumption based on the use of energy efficiency measures.

Given the importance of the tourism sector, a partnership with the Caribbean Hotel Energy Efficiency Action Programme (CHENACT), has been established to promote energy efficiency in the regional hotel sector, with the participation of a number of regional and international organisations. In Barbados alone the audit of sixty five hotels has shown the potential for energy savings for the hotel sector of up to 32,600 MegaWatt hours per year.

At 36% of total hotel sector electricity consumption, this equates to 9% of total electricity consumption in Barbados. The next phase of this programme will assist the hotels in preparing full proposals to secure investment funds to execute their projects.

All of these initiatives will be pursued within the context of a National Sustainable Energy Policy which will be finalised by the end of July this year. This comprehensive programme will create an institutional, policy and operational framework that will provide the appropriate incentives to generate substantial energy savings. It is projected that Barbados will be able to reduce the cumulative costs of oil imports over a twenty year period from US$2.648 billion to US$1.978 billion.

During the snapping of Delegates, a voice suspiciously sounding like a Barbadian Senator was attempting to hurry up the photography, if it was indeed a member of the Upper Chamber - they should perhaps use their energy to explain instead why it will take Barbados 20 years before we get cheaper electric bills and why Petrol remains high even when global prices slump?

Based on the above Barbados can therefore commit, in the context of the Draft Barbados Declaration, to the incorporation by the year 2030 of 29 per cent of renewable energy in the energy mix, and the reduction of electricity consumption through energy efficiency measures by 22 per cent. For us, however, merely setting goals is not enough. We feel that specific commitments must be made, accompanied by visible efforts to meet these commitments, if we are to reach the goal of sustainable energy for all.

For us too it is vitally important that during the Rio +20 Meeting support be obtained for the targets and commitments of the Sustainable Energy For All Initiative, thereby contributing to the deliberations on the potential establishment of Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) and related global monitoring mechanisms.

We recognise that the international community, the private sector and civil society have important roles to play in a collective and collegial effort towards the utilisation of the vast renewable energy resources in SIDS. For this reason I heartily commend the creation of the SIDS DOCK not-for-profit international organization to facilitate the development of a sustainable energy sector, and to provide the foundation for low carbon economic growth and adaptation to climate change.

Barbados is pleased to advise that it will sign the Memorandum of Understanding prior to the commencement of tomorrow’s meeting of the SIDS/DOCK National Coordinators. The existence of SIDS-DOCK Ltd. can only strengthen the SIDS voice in the international arena, becoming a model for cooperation in capacity-building in the sustainable energy sectors of SIDS, and at the same time providing a platform to continue the lobby for resources for developing countries.

The Government of Barbados will also be joining the International Renewable Energy Agency shortly, to participate in the good work that this organisation is doing in the field of renewable energy.

As we approach the Rio +20 Conference attention is focused on the Green Economy concept, one of considerable importance to SIDS and certainly a complement to the Barbados Programme of Action and the follow-up Mauritius Implementation Strategy. SIDS must ensure that we are included in the debate.

In the case of Barbados, all of the national activities described above are to be seen within the overall context of Barbados’ intention to create a Green Economy. This approach offers the unique integrative and multi-faceted approach to sustainable development of which I spoke earlier, seen within the context of our definition of the green economy which is as follows:

“An integrated production, distribution, consumption and waste assimilation system that, at its core, reflects the fragility of our small island eco-systems”.

That integrated system is intended to provide :
“the basis for natural resource protection policy intervention, business and investment choice, human development programming, and for the facilitation of export market development strategies”.

In its journey towards a Green Economy, with close inter-relationships required between the three pillars of sustainable development – the society, the economy and the environment , Barbados has completed a macro-economic assessment and policy analysis through a Green Economy Scoping Study, in association with the University of the West Indies (Cave Hill Campus) and the United Nations Environment Programme, whom we thank for their valued support. The sectors covered were buildings/housing, fisheries, agriculture and tourism , with cross-cutting issues such as energy and waste management also included. Our Social Partnership – Government, the private sector and the trade unions – were consulted and are fully involved in the process.

I can also tell you that, at the wider Caribbean level, plans are being developed for a coordinated approach to renewable energy based on our abundant endowment of renewable energy resources. A Caribbean Community Energy Policy has been drafted which has at its core the embracing of renewable energy, energy efficiency and energy conservation. The Caribbean Community is also developing a Caribbean Sustainable Energy Road Map and Strategy (C-SERMS) which will establish a strategic approach to the matter. Achievable targets will be set for renewable energy, bio-energy and energy efficiency based on available resources within CARICOM member states.

Barbados considers that it is crucial that the Rio +20 Conference recognise the structural vulnerabilities of SIDS, offer a model to assist us in realising our sustainable development aspirations, and create the institutional platform that would enable us to participate in innovative partnerships both regionally and internationally in this process. We must press the international community to honour commitments related to SIDS, including those contained in the Barbados Programme of Action and the Mauritius Implementation Strategy, so that we can ensure a coherent, coordinated and collaborative approach to the sustainable development of SIDS. It is also essential that SIDS obtain the requisite resources to make renewable energy resources accessible and affordable.

I have been advised that, in the proposed outcome document, while what the Pacific Small Island Developing States (SIDS) have termed “the blue economy” – relating to the conservation and sustainable management and to a greater share of benefits of marine and ocean for developing countries – is not reflected in the text under negotiation, the relevant section of the draft outcome document will address the fundamental concerns of SIDS on this matter.

The draft Barbados Declaration that you will consider tomorrow supports the proposal to convene the 3rd Global Conference on SIDS in 2014, on the 20th anniversary of the 1st Global SIDS Conference in Barbados. We trust that at Rio our development partners will support the convening of this important Conference, which represents one of the highest priorities for SIDS.

The Rio +20 Conference provides the international community with an unprecedented opportunity to bring all these matters before the international community , in an effort to truly embrace the sustainable development agenda. An honest assessment of the international community’s track record on sustainable development leads to the conclusion that while the concept is part of the international lexicon, it remains too amorphous to be properly implemented.

Sustainable development is still seen fundamentally as an environmental issue while development, as economic growth, continues to be the dominant paradigm, and thus it has not been able to find the political entry points to make real progress. The concept of sustainable development must therefore be incorporated into the mainstream national and international economic policy debates.

The Rio +20 Conference provides a golden opportunity for SIDS speak as one, to convey the urgency of fully embracing sustainable development and uniting around a common agenda for ensuring its realization. We must use these meetings in Barbados to prepare ourselves for what will be a battle to articulate, promote and defend our interests, to the benefit of our people, and indeed of the planet. The time for talking is over. The time for concrete and concerted action is upon us.

I invite delegates attending the meetings here to spend a little of their time enjoying the pleasures of Barbados, a SIDS well on its way to being a Green Economy!

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2 Responses

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  1. Whenever I see you have an article about the Prime Minister, you are forever carping on the man, he do you something?

    Is there any way you can cure yourself from the disease? Bless you!

  2. It is Freundel who needs curing – probably at a Sleep Disorder centre! 😉 In truth, if either party says or does anything worthwhile then I will point it out, but this is few & far between… I also feel Pride prevents them from acting on & acknowledging when the average voter gives a good idea how to carry this country forward… If it sounds feasible, use it! If it works, thank the body in public! Is that so difficult?


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