More than 40 businesses and 26 Caribbean countries have joined together in support of a $1bn project to create the world’s first ‘climate smart zone’ and help fast track low carbon development across the region.
Covering an area of one million square miles and more than 40 million people, the Caribbean Climate-Smart Accelerator comes backed by $1bn from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), which originally made the funding pledge at French President Emmanuel Macron’s One Planet Summit last year.
The programme, which announced a raft of new corporate members last week, will encompass a host of projects and initiatives covering climate resilience, renewable energy, urban development, jobs and transportation all designed to protect the region against the impacts of climate change while boosting jobs and low carbon infrastructure.
The IDB’s $1bn funding comes in addition to an existing portfolio of over $200m to support solutions focused on cutting emissions, developing sustainable infrastructure, and delivering energy efficiency projects in the wake of natural disasters, drawing from “low-cost blended finance and contingent credit facilities”, the project organisers said.
The “ground-breaking” project has won the backing of British billionaire Sir Richard Branson and multiple Olympic gold medallist Usain Bolt, who helped officially launch the Accelerator in Jamaica last Thursday alongside the country’s Prime Minister Andrew Holness.
Holness said the Accelerator would help encourage job creation, social inclusion, and economic growth in the region.
“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,” he said. “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.”
The IDB will also provide $3bn as start-up funds to the Accelerator to help get it up and running, with the first $1.5bn available this year.
Other projects supported by the Accelerator include the creation of the world’s first ‘climate-smart city’ in Grenada backed by $300m from the UN’s Green Climate Fund, as well as a $48.7m climate smart water project in the country.
In addition, the World Bank Group has announced a three-year commitment of $1m annually of “in-kind services” for the Accelerator, as well as supporting the Caribbean countries with a near $2bn portfolio focused on boosting resilience and financial protection against disasters.
An “anonymous entrepreneur” is also investing $2m to support the Belize government’s ocean protection efforts as well as businesses developing solutions which benefit the ocean.
Another project will also see 20 hydropanels installed at two major hospitals in Jamaica by Zero Mass Water to produce clean, filtered drinking water for the next 15 years, it was announced.
Sir Richard Branson said the goal was to be “ambitious and bold” in support of low carbon development. “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,” he said.
Credit: Business Green