More than 30 Civil Society Organizations from The Bahamas, Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica, Trinidad Tobago, Haiti and Suriname met on May 20 – 21, in Paramaribo, for the IV Caribbean Civil Society Meeting hosted by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).
For the first time in the history of these fora, Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) that are not members of the IDB-sponsored Civil Society Consultative Groups (CONSOCs) were invited to participate -together with CONSOCs’ members- in an open and fruitful dialogue with Government representatives and IDB Management and staff.
Thanks to a new, highly participatory methodology, Civil Society representatives were able to agree on concrete follow-up actions to support the regional development agenda in the topics discussed, which included the Participation of Civil Society in Public Policy Decisions, the relevance of Energy for the future of the Caribbean, and the challenges posed by the vast numbers of Youth at Risk in the Region.
The panel on energy succeeded in creating awareness among Civil Society participants of the need to tackle oil dependence from all angles, starting with dissemination and education, the implementation of energy efficiency measures, and the carry out of constructive advocacy actions in their own communities.
The high cost of energy is the most important challenge for growth in the Caribbean, with particular weight in islands states. 6 out of 13 countries in the Region generate 100% of their electricity with fuel oil. Jamaica, Barbados and Guyana imports of oil products amount to 12% or more of their gross national income.
Caribbean Governments alone cannot change the energy matrix and lessen the current oil dependence. Efforts from all stakeholders are needed; thus, Civil Society has an important role to play.
The IDB Civil Society Team looks forward to facilitating the follow-up actions identified by the Caribbean CSOs in Paramaribo in regards to energy and the other topics addressed.