The government of Italy has been supporting regional efforts to manage and adapt to the effects of climate change for almost 14 years and what an invaluable partner it has been. To understand the value of this partnership, it’s important to skip back even further, to 2002. Sixteen years ago, climate change wasn’t a buzz phrase on everybody’s lips like it is now, but the governments of the Caribbean Community were already educating themselves on this phenomenon and preparing to take action. They recognized the need for an institution dedicated to coordinating regional response to climate change as well as the efforts of individual Member States to manage and adapt to its projected impacts, so the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) came into existence in February 2002. It’s birth wasn’t without complications. The first and biggest issue was money: where and how would these governments find the funds to finance and operate the Centre amidst the persistent economic challenges squeezing their countries? The answer is ‘nowhere’, as the CCCCC remained a shell, inoperable for two years.
In January 2004, the CCCCC issued a call to the international community for start-up support and the government of Italy responded. They sent a mission to Belmopan, Belize that April to have initial discussions with the interim Director of the CCCCC. As the year wound down, on December 15th, the Director General of the Italian Ministry of the Environment, Land and Sea (IMELS) signed an agreement with the Interim Director of the CCCCC at the UNFCCC Conference of the Parties held in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The agreement saw IMELS gifting the CCCCC a grant of US$840,000, which was to its organizational development and operations through 2006.
The first major order of business was to lay the groundwork for the development of the Centre’s fiduciary and procurement capacity. With this covered, the Centre was ready to act as an implementing entity for other donors such as the European Union (EU), United Kingdom (UK), Australia (AUSAID), World Bank (WB) the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), and finally, the Green Climate Fund (GCF).
The partnership between IMELS and the CCCCC is still going strong. In fact, it has only evolved and strengthened over the past 14 years. For example, in November 2015, IMELS and the CCCCC signed a new Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Co-operation for the Development of Renewable Energy Sources and Mitigation and Adaptation to Climate Change in the Caribbean Region. IMELS provided the Centre with the resources needed to support CARICOM Member Countries in developing bankable projects for funding under available financial mechanisms. These include the Green Climate Fund and the Adaptation Fund, as well as bilateral arrangements.
Last November, the MOU was upgraded with an addendum which sees IMELS further strengthening the capacity of the Centre’s Programme Development and Management Unit (PDMU) with three supplementary project development staff members. The Centre is now better able to provide the appropriate assistance to its Member States. There is also more to come in 2018 as IMELS and the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has once again tapped the Centre to aid in the development and implementation of a €30-million concessional loan facility to fund CARICOM Member Countries in their Climate Change adaptation and mitigation programmes.
The partnership between the Caribbean and the government of Italy remains strong and is one of the enduring foundations for the operationalization of the CCCCC.