(left) Ms. Jolita Butkeviciene, (centre) Prime Minister Dr. Timothy Harris, and (right) Mr. Neven Mimica

The CARICOM-United Nations High-Level Pledging Conference was held in New York City at the United Nations Headquarters this week.

The two-day event, held over November 20 and 21, gave prime minister Dr. Timothy Harris the opportunity to represent St. Kitts and Nevis.

The CARICOM-United Nations High-Level Pledging Conference has been organised with the support of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) under the theme Building a More Climate Resilient Community. 

The pledging conference aims to mobilise assistance for hurricane-devastated Caribbean countries from international development partners and private sector entities. It also aims to help the wider CARICOM region improve its resilience.    

Commissioner Mimica and Dr. Warren Smith, the President of the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), announced the formalisation 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 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.