EU seeks to support green economy in Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean
Far too often in these times of economic crisis one hears that we cannot afford to have a high level of environmental protection. Many even believe that a large part of economic problems are caused by environmental laws and that if only the so-called ‘Green Tape’ was removed our economies could recover and create the jobs and growth we all desire. The European Union disagrees completely with these views. In the EU we believe that if there is to be growth, it will have to be Green Growth; i.e. a need for a transformation of the global economy.
Why do we think this? Because of the following global mega trends: Our planet’s population is expected to rise to more than 9 billion by the middle of this century; an additional 3 billion middle class consumers by 2030; this will put immense strain on many resources. We will need three times more resources -140 billion tons annually- by 2050. The demand for food, feed and fibre is projected to increase by 70%; already today 60 % of the world’s major ecosystems on which these resources depend are degraded or are used unsustainably.
We know that the “business as usual” scenario simply will not work. So we need to change and to rethink the way we produce and consume. The world needs to move from a linear economic model, where we extract, produce, use and throw away, to a circular economy model. In the EU we are taking first steps. The European eco-industry alone has created 1.2 million new jobs since 2000, employing today around 3.4 million people.
In addition to what is happening inside the EU, we also support transformation efforts across the globe. In the Caribbean, a striking example is the Waitukubuli National Trail in Dominica financed with 3.7 million euro by the EU. This trail shows that the natural environment can be a source of revenue, and that through protection and conservation local tourism sector jobs and spin offs for agriculture and hydropower energy can be created and strengthened.
In Barbados the EU has contributed 5.81 million euros towards the Barbados Smart Renewable Energy Programme for the public sector, the objective of which is to promote and implement the use of Renewable Energy (RE) and Energy Efficiency (EE) measures via the Public Sector Smart Energy (PSSE) Program. This project will help to reduce Barbados’ fossil fuel dependency, promote sustainable energy and therefore contribute to the country’s competitiveness. Specific objectives include the installation Renewable Energy systems in government buildings by retrofitting at least 12 government buildings with Energy Efficiency technologies and installing solar Photo Voltaic systems on government buildings. There will also be retrofitting of public/street lights with Energy Efficiency technologies and the implementation of a Renewable Energy pilot project and studies.
In addition to stand alone projects the EU also supports or is looking to support major environmental protection processes. In July 2011 the EU’s Commissioner for Development Andris Piebalgs signed a 7.9 million euro programme with CARICOM to support the region’s Climate Change Agenda.
Our flagship is the global Forest Law Environmental Governance process which seeks to combat illegal logging and secure revenues for local communities and government budgets. In the Caribbean we have taken active part in preparatory meetings of the Caribbean Challenge Initiative, which could prove to be a strong public–private platform for coastal zone management.
The EU is currently engaged in a programming process for the 11the European Development Fund which will run form 2014-2020. Our policy document “Agenda for Change” highlights the need for EU development assistance to be used to safeguard the environment and support a green economy. With our partners we will therefore actively and assiduously look for avenues to do so. We will take inspiration from the Green Economy process already commenced here in Barbados and building on the outcomes of the Rio+20 Summit of 2012.