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Panos Caribbean is reproducing here an article first published by Caribbean News Service.

NASSAU, The Bahamas, Jan 23 2017 – An official of the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) has reiterated a statement made by its president in 2014, which points to the need to move away from imported fossil fuels.

“Unless we can reduce our dependence on imported fossil fuels, and unless we can substantially reduce energy costs, we will not succeed in improving our competitiveness and reducing our vulnerability to external shocks,” Head of Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency at the CDB, Tessa Williams-Robertson said.

Speaking here at the opening of the fifth Caribbean Sustainable Energy Forum (CSEF), Mrs. Williams-Robertson said the meeting plays an important role in facilitating dialogue on sustainable energy development; creating a space for sharing good practices, ideas and lessons learned; and in driving decision-making, policy and action across the Caribbean.

Since 2015, the CDB has been making renewable energy and energy efficiency a consideration across investments in all sectors and Mrs Williams Robertson said there were immediate results associated with this thrust.

“Project planners in the education, agriculture and water sectors, were persuaded to include specific components to address the installation of solar PV where appropriate and/or subjected to energy audits to determine Energy Efficiency Measures,” she said.

“The Basic Needs Trust Fund, our flagship poverty-reduction programme, was a frontrunner in this process. Through small but critical interventions, BNTF powered schools in Guyana’s hinterland by incorporating solar PV with battery storage. Thanks to the installation of solar water pumps, villages – including those in rural areas of Guyana and Belize – now have better access to a reliable, potable supply of water.”

The CDB official noted that when the bank prioritised energy security in its strategic plan, it was aware that concessional financial would be critical to transforming the energy sector and it has been working diligently to mobilise such funding.

“Today we are pleased to report that we have had some successes in this area, raising grant resources and technical support from the Government of Canada; the European Investment Bank Climate Action Line of Credit; the European Union Caribbean Investment Facility, the Government of Germany, the Inter-American Development Bank-financed Sustainable Energy Facility, and the United Kingdom Department for International Development,” Mrs Williams-Robertson announced.