Dr Arun Kashyap : Caribbean Green Economy Conference 2015

Feb 23, 2015

GREETINGS

Dr Arun Kashyap

UN Resident Coordinator/UNDP Resident Representative, Jamaica

Caribbean Green Economy Conference 2015

Jamaica Pegasus Hotel, Kingston

23-24 February 2015 at 9:00am

 


Acknowledgements:

·         Honourable Minister Robert Pickersgill, Minister of Water, Land, Environment and Climate change

·         Chairman. Lt. Colonel Oral Khan

·         Mr. Asad Navqi, Economics and Trade Branch, UNEP

·         Mr. Wayne Hunt/Principal/Vice Principal, University of the West Indies

·         Ladies and Gentlemen from the Media

·         Distinguished Presenters and Participants

 

A very good Morning to all of you.

On behalf of the United Nations in Jamaica, I wish to welcome you to Jamaica and thank you for joining us at this Green Economy Conference that is being hosted by the Government of Jamaica together with the United Nations Environment Programme and, in partnership with the University of the West Indies. We are grateful for the funding received from the European Commission and its support to the Caribbean Green Economy Initiative.

 

This is indeed a timely conference.  As you know, by declaring last year (2014) as the International Year of Small Island Developing States, it was the first time that the General Assembly designated an international year for a group of countries. It reveals a growing understanding worldwide of the urgent need to collectively address the special demands of Small Island Developing States. 

 

Recognizing the gravitas of UN’s declaration, the Government of Jamaica partnered ECLAC in hosting the Regional Launch of International Year of SIDS as it prepared for the 3rd International Conference on Small Island Developing States in Samoa later that year. UNDP provided the necessary financial support.  

 

The UN Country Team Jamaica partnered with the Government of Jamaica in organizing the Caribbean Regional Preparatory Meeting for the Samoa Conference.  With support from UNDP, the Government led the National Consultations; and Jamaica was the first country to complete them and submit a synthesis outcome report of the consultations based on cross-sectoral, multi-disciplinary, and broad-based stakeholder engagement.

 

The areas requiring greatest attention underscored by the national consultation included (i) the adverse impacts of climate change, (ii) natural and environment disasters; (iii) sustainable energy systems; (iv) management of wastes; coastal, marine and biodiversity resources; (v) fresh water and land resources and (vi) the need to strengthen human, institutional and systemic capacities.  While the outcome document of 3rd International Conference on Small Island Developing States - SAMOA (SIDS Accelerated Modalities of Action) Pathways reaffirmed the need to reduce inequalities, the special vulnerabilities and challenges of SIDS in relation to Climate Change, it endorsed green economy as a significant tool to reduce poverty and achieve equitable and sustainable development. SAMOA Pathways underscored the need to work in an integrated manner by linking economic development and social development with the need to uphold environmental integrity through synergistic partnerships. It confirmed the importance of freedom, peace & security, right to development and the right to an adequate standard of living for all.

 

You may remember that the call to transition to Green Economy is not new; it has been promoted since 1989 and with a marginal success. Since the past century, we have witnessed the world falling into a pattern of unsustainable economic growth led by accelerated consumption of fossil fuels, deforestation, and depletion of the planet’s natural resources, and blatant disregard of negative externalities that helped fast-track climate change. We have wilfully failed to make a business case for a viable green economy that also advances life-sustaining ecosystems and an equitable society.  

 

At this time, we need this transition more than ever. Poverty eradication is threatened by rapidly increasing inequality and extreme income disparities. Seven out of ten people live in countries with fast growing inequalities. Oxfam’s recent publication cites the latest national Demographic and Health Survey that confirms the traps of disadvantages which push the marginalized communities to the bottom and keep them there.

 

UNDP’s 2007 Human Development Report described Climate Change as the defining human development issue of our generation.  Recently, the 5th Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (released last year) reported that the climate is changing and the impacts are already being felt. And, further climate change is inevitable in the coming decades.  Commenting on the same Report the New York Times wrote in a front page story [05/14]: “the effects of human-induced climate change are being felt in every corner of the US with water growing scarcer in dry regions, torrential rains increasing in wet regions, heat waves becoming more common and more severe, wildfires growing worse, and forests dying under assault from heat-loving insects.”  The development process has to target human-choice and action to meet the unmet needs of the disadvantaged communities for equitable delivery of basic services.  Such an approach would distance us from outdated policies that un-compromisingly focus on GDP only and, disregard inequality and vulnerability. Such an approach would (i) allow the development systems’ benchmarks to translate human security to individual and societal wellbeing, and (ii) not mistake the existence of weak policies and poor management practices with scarcity of a resource.

 

The governments and businesses recognize the imperative of green economy to achieve sustainable & inclusive development. Given that crisis and opportunity are two sides of the same coin, there is a growing recognition by all actors that affordable, scalable solutions are becoming increasingly available and are able to assist us in leapfrogging to greener, cleaner, and more resilient economies. 

It is with this sense of “change is in the air” that the UN SG Ban ki-Moon invited world leaders, from government, finance, business, and civil society to Climate Summit 2014 to galvanize and catalyze climate action. The meeting underscored the need to strengthen resilience, both climate and financial, as a smart and essential investment. The outputs feature constructive steps forward as we walk together on the road to Paris this year. They comprise a strong commitment to limit global temperature rise to less than 2°C by cutting emissions, and for a meaningful, universal climate agreement in Paris later this year.

 

The leaders strongly supported the Green Climate Fund, and called for the Fund's initial capitalization at an amount no less than $10B. A new coalition of governments, business, finance, multilateral development banks and civil society leaders announced their commitment to mobilize upwards of $200 billion for financing low-carbon and climate-resilient development. The insurance industry committed to double its green investments to $82B by the same date next year. Growing adaptation needs especially for the LDCs and SIDS, which are most at risk and need highest international support was recognized.  And, the Leaders agreed to strengthen and scale up the risk financing mechanisms for Africa & the Caribbean.

 

The Caribbean region must confront its challenges creatively. As MICs with high indebtedness and inequalities, heavy reliance on natural resources and tourism, dependence on fossil fuels for expensive energy services, vulnerabilities to droughts, and natural hazards and disasters, and with growing risks of climate change, the islands have to innovate to strengthen resilience. The choice to move to green economies of the Region is not only attractive, it is a necessity. 

 

The private sector must actively introduce efficiency, reduce emissions, promote green economy and implement adaptation initiatives. Globally, the private sector community appears to have recognized the importance of integrating climate change into its business models as a strategy of corporate survival in a competitive market place. A number of institutional investors and private sector corporations now recognize that climate change can influence their competitiveness and profitability at the sector, company and project levels.   It is not surprising that the beverage industries now have a CEO Water Mandate to ensure water stewardship, and more than 100 leading international insurance companies have called on governments worldwide to harness risk management techniques and insurance expertise to help the developing world adapt to climate change. To remain competitive, it is essential that Jamaican businesses educate themselves on climate change to leverage new business opportunities and join their trading partners through value chains in this global shift. 

 

Jamaica is at the forefront of SIDS in taking proactive efforts to combat climate change.  It is not surprising that the Climate Change Division and the Ministry of Water Land, Environment and CC has been nominated Jamaica’s focal point to the Green Climate Fund.  All these are significant and representative steps for Jamaica as it rises to make its economy Green. In the words of the UN Secretary General, Mr. Ban Ki-moon “Our mission is to build a better world. To leave no one behind. To stand for the poorest and the most vulnerable in the name of global peace and social justice.”  The UN in Jamaica will continue to spare no efforts in translating this message into on-the-ground reality and contribute to the promise of Vision 2030 Jamaica by working with the Government in its efforts to implement SAMOA Pathway and advance sustainable development Goals through Green Economy.

Dr. Arun Kashyap: UN Resident Co-ordinator / UNDP Resident Representative

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