(PRESS SEC) – Prime Minister Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris is in New York City, where he is representing St. Kitts and Nevis at the CARICOM-United Nations High-Level Pledging Conference being held between November 20th and 21st, 2017 at the UN Headquarters.
The CARICOM-United Nations High-Level Pledging Conference has been organized with the support of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) under the theme Building a More Climate Resilient Community.
The pledging conference aims to mobilize assistance for hurricane-devastated Caribbean countries from international development partners, allied countries, private sector entities, foundations and the like, so that they can rebuild as the first climate-resilient countries in the world. It also aims to help the wider Caribbean Community (CARICOM) region improve its resilience.
On the sidelines of the conference, Prime Minister Harris recently held a productive meeting with Neven Mimica, the Commissioner in charge of International Cooperation and Development at the European Commission. The European Commission is the principal executive body of the European Union (EU).
Prime Minister Harris and Commissioner Mimica discussed, inter alia, cooperation on post-Hurricanes Irma and Maria recovery and reconstruction efforts, as well as geothermal energy development.
Yesterday in New York, Commissioner Mimica and Dr. Warren Smith, the President of the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), announced the formalization of a grant contribution by the European Union in the amount of €12 million to the Geothermal Risk Mitigation Programme for the Eastern Caribbean.
The project, which launched yesterday, will facilitate the development of “up to 60MW of geothermal energy capacity in up to five countries – Dominica, Grenada, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines,” according to a press release, which added: “The €12 million in grant funding will be used to provide investment grants at the exploration phase, as well as technical assistance to support capacity-building initiatives and studies that explore opportunities for, and the feasibility of, interconnection between islands to facilitate the export of electricity by geothermal energy producers.”
Commissioner Mimica said yesterday, Monday, November 20th, that, “The EU grant contribution of €12 million will serve to jump-start geothermal development through co-financing for higher-risk investments required at the early stage services of exploratory drilling, within a programme, which could leverage additional financing of approximately €400 million.”
The €12 million in funding aims to decrease the countries’ dependency on energy imports, thereby reducing their fuel import bills and electricity costs. Countries in the Caribbean are saddled with some of the world’s highest per capita energy costs. The region’s annual fuel import bill is put around US$9 billion per year.
The EU’s contribution is being allocated from its five-year-old Caribbean Investment Facility (CIF), which supports investments located in the 15 Caribbean countries that have signed up to the ACP-EU Partnership Agreement. This partnership agreement is known as the Cotonou agreement because it was signed in Cotonou, the largest city in the West African country of Benin, on June 23rd, 2000.
Described as the most comprehensive partnership agreement between developing countries and the European Union, the Cotonou agreement provides the framework for the EU’s cooperation with close to 80 countries from Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific (ACP) on key matters such as climate change and food security.
The Cotonou agreement established a comprehensive partnership in the areas of development cooperation, political cooperation, and economic and trade cooperation. It entered into force on April 1st, 2003 and is set to expire on February 29th, 2020.
Since his appointment to the five-year term on November 1st, 2014, Commissioner Mimica has led the design of the European Union’s development policy, working with national governments in recipient countries to ensure that the EU’s development aid is more effective.
Commissioner Mimica’s responsibilities also include launching negotiations on a revised Cotonou agreement with the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States. The agreement envisages the opening of negotiations on the ‘post-Cotonou’ partnership by September 1st, 2018 at the latest. St. Kitts and Nevis will participate in these post-Cotonou discussions with the EU.