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Central Bank Governor outlines five-part strategy for sustainable economic expansion

By Emmanuel Joseph

Central Bank Governor Dr Kevin Greenidge has proposed a five-pronged economic model for sustainable inclusive growth that he wants to see implemented by Barbados and other Caribbean countries.

He identified the Blue Economy, a digital Caribbean, green energy transition, an agri-revolution and intensifying regional integration as the pillars on which his model is anchored.

Greenidge outlined his vision while delivering the third Distinguished Owen S. Arthur Memorial Lecture organised by the Sir Shridath Ramphal Centre for International Trade, Law, Policy and Services (SCR) and the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), on Thursday night, on the topic, A New Dawn – Charting the Course for Sustainable and Inclusive Economic Growth in the Caribbean.

He noted that the Blue Economy emphasises sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods, and job creation while preserving the integrity, resilience, and biodiversity of marine ecosystems.

“Strategic implementation of the Blue Economy in the Caribbean entails developing comprehensive policies and regulatory frameworks that endorse sustainable practices, foster regional collaboration, and encourage international partnerships,” the senior economist told the audience in the Walcott Warner Theatre at the Errol Barrow Centre for Creative Imagination, Cave Hill Campus, The University of the West Indies.

“Cooperation among Caribbean nations is necessary to manage shared marine resources effectively, mitigate common threats, and maximise economic opportunities.”

Saying that the digital space offers boundless opportunities, Greenidge recommended that the region become digitally fluent. He said the establishment of tech hubs, bolstering digital infrastructure, and promoting e-commerce can redefine the region’s economic narrative.

“I am talking about digital education and training where we incorporate foundational digital skills into educational curricula, and where we partner with global tech giants or universities to establish tech institutes or coding boot camps. This can provide young people with skills in areas like AI [artificial intelligence], data analytics, or app development,” he proposed.

“I am talking about digital health initiatives like telemedicine which, in my opinion, is especially relevant for the scattered geography of the Caribbean as telemedicine can ensure everyone has access to quality healthcare advice, irrespective of their location or station. We should also be seeking to digitise health records, thereby streamlining medical services and ensuring timely care.”

Turning to the green energy transition plank, the central bank governor referred to that as an urgent need and a global imperative.

“And for regions like the Caribbean, it is not just a pathway to sustainable development but a crucial strategy for survival and resilience. Our unique geography, abundant natural resources, and collective spirit offer us unparalleled opportunities to lead in this domain. Solar farms, wind turbines, and innovative solutions like wave energy can power our growth sustainably,” he stated.

Greenidge said the Caribbean’s transition to green energy can be achieved through a comprehensive approach involving harnessing the potential of solar power – solar farms and promoting the installation of solar panels on residential and commercial buildings; wind energy – wind farms and offshore wind turbines; ocean energy; and implementing policy reforms and regulations such as incentivising green energy adoption and introducing energy efficiency standards.

His economic growth model also embraces building capacity and public awareness through education and training programmes as well as public awareness campaigns; securing investment and financing, including by issuing green bonds; and collaborating with international agencies and other governments.

The central bank governor also suggested modernising the electrical grid to make it compatible with diverse renewable energy sources and ensure efficient distribution; investing in battery storage technologies; and enhancing regional cooperation in sharing resources, knowledge, and innovations while harmonising policies to create a unified, efficient, and competitive energy market. 

His agri-revolution pillar acknowledges untapped potential in the region’s fertile lands.

Greenidge therefore believes that organic farming, farm-to-table movements, and agro-tourism can rejuvenate the agricultural sector.

“In this blueprint of a model of economic sustainability, the synergy of modern technology and ingrained traditional practices can forge a revolutionary path to sustainable and efficient farming. Precision agriculture, enabled by advancements in artificial intelligence, is at the forefront, transforming expansive fields into meticulously monitored ecosystems,” the economist asserted.

He concluded that even though the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) has made progress during its 50 years of existence, collaboration among member states needs to be strengthened.

“One avenue to further intensify our integration lies in policy harmonisation. Aligning our regulatory frameworks, taxation policies, and business laws can dismantle residual barriers, fostering an environment where trade and investments flourish unencumbered,” Greenidge suggested.

“Imagine a Caribbean where goods, people, and services move seamlessly, unbridled by logistical constraints. Enhancing our air, sea, and digital connectivity can catalyse this vision.”

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