Prime Minister Freundel Stuart listens as Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Christiana Figueres,??makes a point during the courtesy call. (A. Miller/BGIS)

The Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Christiana Figueres, received an update on the pace of Barbados’ greening initiatives and has pledged to lend her expertise in its acceleration.

She gave this commitment today, during separate courtesy calls on Prime Minister Freundel Stuart and Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office with responsibility for Energy, Telecommunications and Invest Barbados, Senator Darcy Boyce.

During the meeting, the Prime Minister acknowledged that government was not elected on a platform that was based on greening initiatives but, since 2008, sustainable development became part of government’s national focus.??

"We did not get elected on a sustainable development agenda but, we got deeply involved in sustainable development issues after being elected by virtue of the fact, that I was asked to serve on the Secretary General’s Sustainable Development Panel … and this has given me the opportunity to sensitise the national population on the importance of these issues to coastal states like Barbados about the hazards of sea level rise," Mr. Stuart added.

He also mentioned the island’s commitment at the United Nations meeting in 2008, to create the most advanced green economy "in this part of the hemisphere" and disclosed that the Ministry of the Environment and drainage was working hard in this regard.

"We linked up with the United Nations Environment Programme and the University of the West Indies, to compile a Green Economy Scoping Study to look at the issues.?? On the basis of that study, we are proceeding to put certain policy initiatives in place.?? So, this [sustainable development] was not a forefrontal issue last time around, but it has to be a forefrontal issue this time around," Mr. Stuart emphasised.

In turn, Ms. Figueres proffered the view that the island needed to move more aggressively towards clean technology for powering energy and to curtail its importation of oil.

"There is a huge opportunity to move more aggressively into different kinds of technology and not continue to import oil which is not a good use of the island’s good dollars," she underlined.

The Prime Minister agreed and added: "I have ministerial responsibility for energy and you would be interested to know that we are shifting emphasis to the use of renewable sources of energy.?? We have a very close relationship with the Inter-American Development Bank in the pursuit of that agenda…"

Meanwhile, Senator Boyce gave the UNFCCC Executive Secretary an update on energy efficiency initiatives and mentioned a programme to retrofit government buildings as among the efforts to be initiated.

"Government is looking to retrofit a number of offices with solar panels and we have challenged various agencies to see how we can use solar as a baseload…," he added.

Senator Boyce noted that adopting various green initiatives would give the country a competitive edge and pointed out that "A green economy would give us a competitive edge in a number of areas such as international business and tourism".


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