The Energy Unit of the CARICOM Secretariat has launched an initiative to formulate a Region-wide communications strategy for sustainable energy. The purpose of the strategy will be to create and increase awareness of challenges and opportunities in the energy sector; to facilitate behavioural change at all levels; to encourage innovation; and to facilitate the transition to new energy systems.
Over the coming weeks, an Advisory Group facilitated by the CARICOM Secretariat will conduct research and consultations to identify ways in which challenges and opportunities related to energy access, energy security, energy efficiency, environmental protection and adaptation to climate change can best be communicated to all sectors of the Caribbean society.
The Advisory Group brings together representatives of key regional organisations involved in communications in the energy sector. They include the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), the Caribbean Electric Utility Services Corporation (CARILEC), the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC), the CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality (CROSQ), the Organisation of American States (OAS), the OECS Commission and Panos Caribbean.
“The general citizenry within CARICOM understands and appreciates a lot more about energy and energy efficiency than they did 10 years ago, but we need to continue and expand the process”, said Dr. Devon Gardner, Programme Manager, Energy, CARICOM Secretariat. “We need to help people understand what energy conservation means and what are some of the things they can do to take better control of their energy system. We need to find a way to communicate with all sectors of society, all communities, all organisations.”
“This communication strategy will therefore have to tap into social and behaviour change principles, behavioural economics and psychology as part of a communication for development approach”, said Malika Thompson-Cenac of CARILEC. “There is extensive research and practice that shows that such an approach can be a low cost and effective means to reducing emissions and motivating people to be more energy efficient. In the long-term this will be to the benefit of every individual, and every stakeholder, because we are all affected by what happens in energy and to our planet.”
“As we proceed with the development of this strategy”, stated Chetwyn Ryce of CMC, “we need to focus in particular on the youth of the Caribbean as a critical component in the strategic advancement and development of sustainable energy in the Region. We need to utilise more innovative ways – for example, reality shows or youth competitions where renewable energy and energy efficient technologies are incorporated into the lifestyles of ordinary young people – to involve them in the development and advancement of sustainable energy”.
Building on all the awareness activities that it is already conducting, including those centred on the CARICOM Energy Month, the CARICOM Secretariat sees this new initiative as an important step towards the attainment of the Region’s shared vision of affordable, reliable and clean energy.