Minister of Energy, Small Business and Entrepreneurship, Kerrie Symmonds, is calling for the implementation of a national resilience plan to shore up critical sectors from climatic impacts.
He made this appeal recently while participating in the Island Resilience Action Challenge Mid-Year Summit’s virtual ministerial roundtable.
The Energy Minister told the online audience that the national resilience plan should be strategic and cut across sectors such as education, housing and telecommunications.
He also expressed the view that a number of factors must be considered and priority areas identified on a country-by-country basis, before the plan is drafted.
Mr. Symmonds pointed out that such a plan should be executed at the national level first and then at the regional level, once all the varied climatic and other vulnerabilities were identified.
He added that the financing to “future proof” economies must be sourced and the mitigation measures studied and streamlined to adapt to the unique vulnerabilities of regional countries.
“I have said it repeatedly…it is not a one-size cap fits all. We are all at various stages of development, and quite frankly, we have some different types of vulnerabilities even as it relates to climate change and that is just a geographical reality. Perhaps, what I think we need to do at a regional level is talk about ‘outside’ within the context of outside our sovereign state and looking at that first layer of that outside circle, as being CARICOM,” he stressed.
The Minister used the opportunity to inform the panel about Barbados’ efforts at making the island more resilient across sectors.
He pointed to the island’s developmental thrust at a competitive level by reaching out to investors to secure investment in key areas like coastal zone management.
Additionally, Mr. Symmonds alluded to changes in the school curriculum and investment in telecommunications, to move all utilities underground to prevent fallen lines during a natural disaster.
In housing, the Energy Minister said Government is moving towards the installation of photovoltaic systems on the roofs of houses as part of its green energy thrust.
He also listed managing storm water runoff; the adoption of water harvesting technologies; and a public health system that can manage some of the consequences of climate threats, as some of the areas high on the agenda.
“Energy, in my judgement respectfully, has to be the cross-cutting theme at the centre of this conversation. Perhaps it is the most indispensable of all the issues but we have to go a little bit further in terms of being as holistic as possible in order to capture the wide variety of ingredients that constitutes this question of resilience,” Mr. Symmonds underlined.
The Energy Minister recommended that international development partners and philanthropists be engaged to help the region determine the best options for financing, designing and executing national resilience plans.
Also participating in today’s panel were Bermuda’s Deputy Premier and Minister of Home Affairs, Walter Roban; Minister with responsibility for Climate Resilience and the Environment, Ministry of Tourism and Civil Aviation in Grenada, Simon Stiell; and Deputy Premier, Minister for Finance and Economic Development and Minister for Employment and Border Control, Cayman Islands, Christopher Saunders.