Vice President Harris Announces New Initiatives to Strengthen U.S-Caribbean Partnership

(White House)-Vice President Kamala Harris and Prime Minister Philip Davis of The Commonwealth of The Bahamas will host the U.S-Caribbean Leaders Meeting in Nassau, The Bahamas on June 8, 2023. This meeting will build on the Vice President’s previous meetings with Caribbean leaders in April 2022, at the June 2022 Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles, and in September 2022. The Vice President’s trip delivers on the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to advance cooperation with the Caribbean.

In pursuit of shared prosperity and security, and in recognition of the close ties between our nations, the Vice President is announcing the following new activities that address: (1) security and firearms trafficking; (2) the need for an enhanced diplomatic presence in the eastern Caribbean; (3) the crisis in Haiti; and (4) the U.S.–Caribbean Partnership to Address the Climate Crisis 2030 (PACC 2030). Today’s announcements include more than $100 million in new assistance for the region.

Security and Firearms Trafficking;

Department of Justice Firearms Coordinator: The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to disrupting firearms trafficking in the Caribbean by interdicting illicit shipments of firearms and ammunition, and by holding offenders accountable and bringing them to justice. To bolster these efforts, the Department of Justice (DOJ) will name a Coordinator for Caribbean Firearms Prosecutions who will be an experienced DOJ prosecutor. The creation of this position will elevate this critical issue and help implement the provisions of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, which included new federal criminal provisions on firearms trafficking and straw purchases.

Crime Gun Intelligence Unit: The Department of Stateis supporting the recently established regional Crime Gun Intelligence Unit (CGIU) in Trinidad and Tobago, which facilitates collaboration and cooperation among regional and international law enforcement agencies including the Caribbean Community Implementation Agency for Crime and Security; U.S. agencies including the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Customs and Border Protection, the Bureau of Industry and Security); and INTERPOL. The CGIU will address critical firearms investigation training needs in the Caribbean and help our Caribbean partner nations solve gun-related crime cases, deterring gun crimes in the region and bringing criminals to justice. The CGIU will provide training on real-time collection, management, and analysis of crime gun intelligence and encourage information sharing with international law enforcement partners. 

Haiti Transnational Criminal Investigative Unit (TCIU): The Department of State will support HSI collaboration with the Haitian National Police (HNP) to develop a TCIU, to facilitate investigations and prosecution of transnational crimes, including those with a U.S. nexus. The TCIU will focus on crimes including firearms and ammunition smuggling, human trafficking, and transnational gang activity.

Regional Forensics Accreditation: The Department of State, through the continuation of a regional forensics accreditation project, will help bring Caribbean forensic capabilities up to international standards with a goal of achieving International Organization for Standardization accreditation. The United States will help establish a regional forensics Center of Excellence in St. Lucia in addition to continued support to forensic laboratories in The Bahamas and the Dominican Republic. The project will support the collection of timely, reliable, and admissible forensic evidence to support criminal investigations and prosecutions, increase efficiency, and help lower case backlogs.

Caribbean Law Enforcement Capacity Building: The Department of State will continue to increase the capacity of Caribbean law enforcement partners by strengthening organizational and administrative structures of national police forces, improving internal affairs and criminal investigation capabilities, and upgrading police education and training. These efforts will better equip law enforcement partners to respond to crime perpetrated using illegal firearms and will support increased community involvement in public safety planning.  

U.S.-UK Eastern Caribbean Criminal Justice Advisor Program: The Department of State, alongside the United Kingdom, will leverage the presence of a senior criminal justice advisor in the Caribbean to mentor local prosecutors and judges, improve the criminal justice experience of victims and witnesses, and enhance public legal education. This program will build more efficient criminal justice systems to achieve more effective prosecutions of firearms-related crimes throughout the Eastern Caribbean. 

Enhanced Diplomatic Presence

New Diplomatic Presence in Eastern Caribbean: The Biden-Harris Administration has begun the process to establish two new embassies and an additional diplomatic support presence in the eastern Caribbean. This effort, pursued in consultation with the United States Congress and the countries of the region, recognizes that deepening our relationship with Caribbean nations requires regular exchange between our governments at all levels, and is in response to long-standing requests from our Caribbean partners. An expanded diplomatic footprint in the Caribbean will help strengthen people-to-people ties between our nations.

Haiti

Assistance for the Haitian People: The United States,through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), is providing an additional $53.7 million for the people of Haiti in response to the country’s humanitarian crisis. This new funding will provide vulnerable Haitians with urgently needed support, including vital food assistance and other humanitarian assistance, as 4.9 million people face acute food insecurity. In addition, these funds will support care for survivors of gender-based violence and will provide access to safe drinking water and health care.  USAID also intends to provide an additional $10.5 million in development assistance to enhance resilience and productivity in Haiti’s agriculture and livestock sector.

Support for Extension of HOPE/HELP Trade Preferences Program: The Administration strongly supports the extension of the HOPE/HELP trade preferences program for Haiti. At this critical time, it is important that producers and investors in Haiti, those they do business with, and the workers upon whom they rely have certainty about the uninterrupted continuation of the HOPE/HELP program.

U.S.–Caribbean Partnership to Address the Climate Crisis 2030 (PACC 2030)

In June 2022, the Vice President and Caribbean leaders launched PACC 2030, the U.S. Government’s flagship partnership with our Caribbean partners to advance climate adaptation, build resilience and expand clean energy access across the region.

To advance PACC 2030, today the Vice President is announcing the following new initiatives:

Caribbean Climate Investment Program (CCIP): With an initial $20 million investment, subject to the availability of funds, USAID will provide financial, technical assistance, and business development services through CCIP to enterprises deploying technologies in renewable energy, energy efficiency, and climate adaptation by mobilizing private finance and private sector-led actions. CCIP recently announced a funding opportunity, which is offering matching grants of up to $1 million to catalyze climate-related businesses in the Caribbean.

Disaster Risk Reduction and Resilience: USAID will provide nearly $15 million to support disaster risk reduction, emergency response capacity strengthening, and resilience building across the Caribbean. This funding will build operational capacity in disaster response and preparedness, including emergency logistics for regional and national government entities and community-based first responders.

Operationalize Climate Resilience Initiative: Working with Congress, and in response to partner demand, the Department of Defense is moving forward with a $5 million Operationalize Climate Resilience Initiative that will help partners in the Western Hemisphere, including in the Caribbean, address the challenges at the nexus of climate change and national security. This program will provide training in how to plan against, prepare for, and respond to climate contingencies and will fund additional bilateral and multilateral research on climate security in the Western Hemisphere.

Sharing Climate Expertise: The Department of State is partnering with the Department of Commerce – to launch a clean energy investment and procurement training series for Caribbean energy regulators known as Power Hours.  It is also a partnership with the Caribbean Electric Utility Services Corporation to launch a Resilient Energy Regulation Workshop Series. The trainings will build technical and institutional capacity among Caribbean electric utilities and regulators to prepare for a cleaner power system and more electric vehicles.

USAID will provide $1.5 million to the Caribbean Community Climate Change Center to increase the flow of international climate funding and help strengthen key data tools for decision-making to support the region’s response to climate change.

Caribbean Islands Higher Education Resilience Consortium: USAID will provide $1 million to partner with the Caribbean Islands Higher Education Resilience Consortium and Northeastern University to help Caribbean Island States better mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change, including the risks associated with extreme weather events.

Storm Risk Surge Mapping: The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), with funding from USAID, will develop storm surge risk maps to improve understanding of storm surge flooding vulnerability from landfalling tropical cyclones, providing critical information to help save lives and minimize impacts to property in The Bahamas.

The following actions are intended to increase access to development financing for the Caribbean, a key pillar of PACC 2030:

World Bank Evolution: The United States strongly supports efforts underway at the multilateral development banks to evolve their business models to better address global challenges such as climate change, pandemics, fragility, and conflict, which are integral to achieving poverty reduction and sustainable, inclusive, and resilient development. For example, the United States supported a $100 million International Bank for Reconstruction and Development loan to Barbados in January 2023 to support Bridgetown’s low carbon economic development and resilience to climate change. Most recently, the Vice President called for World Bank shareholders to decide on a plan by September to mobilize new concessional financing to incentivize action on global challenges across all borrower countries, enhance support to crisis response in International Development Association recipient countries, and develop an action plan to raise the level of ambition in mobilizing private investment. 

Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) Group: The United States led IDB Group shareholders to mandate a set of priority reforms that will enable the IDB Group to be more relevant and effective vis-à-vis Caribbean nations, including by expanding private sector operations in the Caribbean and advocating for a robust Partnering for Caribbean Development Framework that responds to the unique needs of the region, including small markets, small firms, and high transport costs. The United States also committed to pushing for doubling the capital base of IDB Invest—the IDB Group’s private-sector lending window—to increase investments in a low-carbon, climate-resilient and inclusive future, especially in the energy, transport and agricultural sectors.
Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment (PGII): The United States seeks to scale PGII investments, including in the Caribbean, to better respond to the global demand for high quality infrastructure financing. Through PGII, the Administration and G7’s flagship infrastructure initiative, the United States is collaborating with partners to develop transformative ecosystems of infrastructure investment that support inclusive growth, benefit partners’ economic security, and diversify our global supply chains. The United States aims to mobilize $200 billion globally by 2027 towards PGII—delivering energy, physical, digital, health, and climate-resilient infrastructure.

Climate Resilient Debt Clauses: The United States continues to encourage all creditors—including the private sector and multilateral development banks—to offer climate resilient debt clauses in their lending.  The United States is preparing to do so in our own bilateral lending where feasible.

International Monetary Fund (IMF) Resilience and Sustainability Trust: The Administration is committed to working closely with Congress to lend up to $21 billion through the IMF, including to the Resilience and Sustainability Trust, which has already benefitted Caribbean countries. The IMF Board has already approved programs under the IMF’s Resilience and Sustainability Trust for Barbados and Jamaica.  These programs, $183 million for Barbados and $764 million for Jamaica, will help both nations build resilience to climate-related shocks.

IMF Poverty Reduction and Growth Trust: The United States is encouraging the IMF to identify all available options by the IMF/World Bank Annual Meetings to put the Poverty Reduction and Growth Trust on a sustainable footing in the near term with a view to raise the level of concessional finance available from the IMF in a manner that ensures this access is sustainable.

Since the Vice President launched PACC 2030 in June 2022, there has been a whole-of-government effort to implement the objectives, and we have made significant progress.  Highlights of progress thus far include:

Improving access to development financing:

Barbados Blue-Green Investment Corporation: The U.S. Government, through USAID, is providing technical and financial support to help Barbados set up the Blue-Green Investment Corporation, a regional financing vehicle to finance projects that will help with climate change mitigation and adaptation, including climate resilient housing, renewable energy, clean transportation, and water conservation.

Guyana: The Export-Import Bank of the United States (EXIM) and the Government of Guyana signed a Memorandum of Understanding in July 2022 to explore options for utilizing EXIM financing, which include direct loans, loan guarantees, and insurance products totaling up to $2 billion for energy, water treatment, sanitation, among other sectors.

Facilitating clean energy project development and investment

Antigua and Barbuda Renewable Energy: The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) is leading the Department of State’s Global Climate Action Partnership supporting Antigua and Barbuda with clean energy and energy resilience initiatives.  These projects provide backup power for critical facilities. NREL is also supporting capacity building and workforce development in Antigua and Barbuda for the installation and maintenance of clean and resilient energy technologies such as solar and battery energy storage systems, hurricane resistant wind turbines, electric vehicle charging stations, and energy efficiency improvements in buildings.

Dominica and Saint Kitts and Nevis Geothermal Development: The Department of State’s Power Sector Program technical assistance is facilitating the development of commercial geothermal power projects in both countries.

Barbados, Jamaica and Suriname: The Department of State’s Power Sector Program technical assistance is promoting electric vehicle deployment and capacity building on power systems management and clean energy integration.

Dominican Republic Energy Storage Regulatory Roadmap: The U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) technical assistance for the Dominican Republic’s Superintendent of Electricity is supporting the development of battery storage regulations. The technical assistance assesses gaps in existing regulations and will create a regulatory roadmap for the deployment of energy storage technologies throughout the power system.

Dominican Republic Energy Cybersecurity and Jamaica Rooftop Solar: In December 2022, USAID’s Energy Sector Reform initiated the first in a series of energy cybersecurity training workshops in the Dominican Republic with the intent to replicate these across the region. USAID also launched an assessment of the potential for rooftop solar energy expansion in Jamaica in January 2023.

Dominican Republic Clean Energy Transition and Concessional Finance: Following an invitation by the U.S. Department of the Treasury, the Dominican Republic submitted an investment plan to access $85 million in concessional finance through the Clean Technology Fund’s (CTF) Accelerating Coal Transition program to support its clean energy transition, which the CTF has approved. The United States provided nearly $1 billion to the CTF in 2022 alone to help support countries like the Dominican Republic accelerate their transition to clean energy economies.

Saint Lucia Solar-Plus-Storage Microgrids: USTDA technical assistance for the National Utilities Regulatory Commission (NURC) of Saint Lucia is providing microgrid regulatory framework guidance and assessing the planned deployment of six solar-plus-storage microgrids at critical facilities such as hospitals, schools, communication towers, and water treatment plants.

Saint Lucia Electricity Sector Reform: The Department of State’s Power Sector Program is providing legal technical assistance to enhance competition and attract more clean energy investment, while building NURC’s capacity to develop a licenses regime, key performance indicators, and other topics in a regulatory road map.

Trinidad and Tobago Clean Energy and Grid Resilience Support: The Department of State’s Power Sector Program is providing technical assistance for solar grid integration and regulation, renewable energy financial models and bankability, and capacity building to enhance grid resilience and climate adaptation.

Supporting Clean Energy Procurement: With Department of State Power Sector Program support, the Commercial Law Development Program of the Department of Commerce is reviewing contract templates and delivering capacity building on Power Purchase Agreements to improve bankability of contracts.

Caribbean Energy Trade Mission: The Department of Commerce organized a successful regional business conference in Miami, Florida, in October 2022, which highlighted PACC 2030. Multiple U.S. renewable energy companies attended and joined a trade mission to the Caribbean immediately after the conference.

Enhancing Local Capacity Building

Building Technical and Regulatory Capacity: The Department of State’s Power Sector Program is delivering trainings and capacity building workshops to promote renewable energy regulation and technical capacity on clean energy and electric vehicles grid integration.

Support for Local 2030 Islands Network: The Department of State supports the Local 2030 Islands Network, the world’s first global, island-led network devoted to advancing the Sustainable Development Goals through locally driven, culturally informed solutions.  The Network serves as a peer-to-peer platform of island leaders and experts from across jurisdictions focused on developing innovative solutions in an island context. In the last year, Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, and Trinidad and Tobago have joined the Local 2030 Islands Network, committing to building island resilience to climate change.

Southeast and Caribbean Disaster Resilience Partnership: The Department of State supported the participation of four Caribbean disaster risk reduction practitioners in the 2023 Southeast and Caribbean Disaster Resilience Partnership’s Annual Meeting to foster knowledge exchange among U.S. and international Caribbean resilience and recovery professionals.

Stakeholder Engagement for Natural Hazards Investigations in the Caribbean: In this joint USAID and U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) project, staff are developing a network of scientific experts and administrative officials throughout the Caribbean to identify natural hazards of primary concern, discover innovative hazard mitigation and climate adaptation methods, sharing relevant USGS resources to help build local capacity, and exploring the potential for future collaborations.

Workshop on Climate Services to Support Adaptation and Resilience in the Caribbean: NOAA, with funding from the Department of State, co-hosted a workshop on “Climate Services to Support Adaptation and Resilience in the Caribbean” with the Caribbean Institute for Meteorology and Hydrology (CIMH) in Barbados in April. The workshop addressed themes including challenges and opportunities to enhance Caribbean resilience; multi-hazard early warning information systems; risks, equity, and community-based climate services; and sectoral and cross-sectoral approaches to developing climate services.

Caribbean Regional Climate Outlook Forum: NOAA, with funding from the Department of State and in partnership with CIMH, is providing financial and technical assistance to strengthen the Caribbean Regional Climate Outlook Forum and the use of this important network to reduce climate risks and enhance resilience across the region.

Jamaica: USTDA technical assistance to Jamaica’s Ministry of Science, Energy and Technology will provide recommendations for technological and operations upgrades that will advance the development of a unified national emergency communications infrastructure. The technical assistance will strengthen the country’s ability to adapt to and manage the impacts of climate change.

https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2023/06/08/fact-sheet-vice-president-harris-announces-new-initiatives-to-strengthen-u-s-caribbean-partnership/

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