Sometimes it is the actions of a committed, determined and passionate individual that make things happen.With draft legislation sitting for 10 years, Ruth Spencer and her local community groups engaged the public through radio,tv and social media to educate the people and bring awareness of the need for comprehensive legislation. On May 15, 2015, we assembled at the Parliament building to make statements.
Background and Objective
I kept hearing the daily cries of people on the radio talk shows desperate for lower electricity costs. In Antigua we pay .50 cents US per kwh. As I move around the island , people connect with me in the communities, in the shops , and supermarkets, and stop me to ask for help with solar energy systems.
Actions and Implementation
I encountered many problems especially in the building structures, utilized in the local communities to carry out their training activities. Many of the buildings had structural problems. The roofs for many of the buildings could not bear the weight of the panels and this resulted in extra cost to put the supporting rafters and support beams in place. In addition, the electrical wiring was not in compliance with the standards of the utility company and many of the buildings had to be rewired but those issues did not deter me, instead, I reached out to other groups and the support was received from civic minded persons who realized the social gaps that were being filled in the communities and provided the support. The groups came together and the hardware stores even provided materials at very low costs. At the various launches, the groups shared their experiences in how they welcomed the installation and training provided which benefited their members.. My partnership with the Department of the Environment, the first Caribbean Government to be accredited to the Adaptation Fund in August 2015 , one of the financing mechanisms for the Paris Agreement has resulted in multiple benefits for the local communities. The OAS carried out an evaluation with an external consultant and the dialogue enabled me to ,share my experiences working with local community groups. in combined adaptation and mitigation solutions. A key NDC is building upgrades and making them climate proofed to be able to withstand the impacts of extremes conditions which are some of risks and threats from Climate Change on our small vulnerable island. A video is attached where I attempted to show some of the poor housing conditions existing on the island and lived in by many of our vulnerable persons. The approved Adaptation Fund Pilot project will bring solutions providing drains that can absorb the volume of water that come with increased rainfall, the raising of houses on pillars to prevent flooding,, construction of water cisterns and other water storage containers to mitigate against the drought,, window protection from mosquitoes carrying diseases which include dengue fever , malaria, yellow fever zika virus and chikungunya, provision of solar panels on roofs of homes, which include opportunities for continued training in green jobs and building of a multi functional hurricane shelter with wheel chair access and a custom designed box hand revolving loan fund
Outcomes and Impacts
With this initiative starting since 2012, before INDC's were drafted and submitted for the Paris Agreement, here on the Caribbean island of Antigua , on the local scene was a women piloting and catalyzing local action in solar energy. It was not a government entity. Ruth's Place was directly spearheading the process and providing the public education and awareness partnering with churches and other local community groups to get the message out that this technology will benefit everyone and is cost effective since we have the free resource- sunlight to make it possible . I was able to attract grant funding to pilot all these initiatives. The involvement of the Association of Persons with Disabilities demonstrated to the nation, that even those with handicaps and frailties must be included and be involved and solar energy application and use can be a major innovation for development as seen through their hydroponics project aimed at providing self employment for their membership.. Women's empowerment was achieved for women were involved and pushing the process. Antigua is blessed with sunlight 365 days a year and yet our small businesses are faced with high operational costs due to high electricity bill.
Our efforts continue public education in energy efficiency to educate the nation of the massive saving that can be achieved through simple changes in habits and attitudes. . In order for the benefits to be spread widely, the Department of the Environment has in it's legislation, a Sustainable island Resource Financing (SIRF) Fund with windows for the private sector, government and NGO's. The fund is being capitalized through various GEF projects, and proceeds from sales of renewable energy for electricity and water through power purchase agreements in place and in time from a waste to energy facility.
Follow up on the training from sustainable cities training, ongoing capacity building training and workshops, are being conducted through practical demonstrated through integrated and waste diversion initiatives with effective management strategies in place.. Our efforts at sustainability now focus on climate smart agriculture, planting of fruit trees, which integrate local knowledge systems that were practices in the past and aimed at Food security with health and wellness benefits., Families are taught how to use household food scraps to build community composts that will build up the soils and we are setting up hydroponic systems that use little water, are raised planting systems and powered by solar energy-theses systems can mitigate against floods.
Gender and Social Inclusivity
With the many emails and telephone calls coming from Jamaica, Anguilla requesting support in solar energy , these small systems can indeed be replicated but it takes the drive and energy of committed persons to carry the process forward. I am now sitting on the national Committee as the Deputy Chair-Energy for Sustainable Development in Caribbean buildings by the National Steering Committee-The main aims of the ESD project, the “first regional project of its kind in CARICOM”, are to increase the number of successful commercial applications of energy efficiency and conservation in buildings as well as expand the market for renewable energy technology applications for power generation.I am now tasked with planning a national integrated waste management training program with TNO-Innovation for Life out of Aruba , from October 9-13 .I am also working with the Antigua and Barbuda Ewaste center to up scaling the national program, with government providing all of it's electronic waste , computers, a facility with equipment to handle the heavy plastic with support draft legislation to separate all waste.. I am also involved in the implementation of the Ecosystems valuation project funded by Japanese Biodiversity Fund. Antigua was one of three countries selected worldwide along with Sri Lanka and Ecuador..
l Caribbean islands, with one common body of water and oceans, we are linked and we must go forward with a common vision with collective actions.
Private sectors groups are willing to provide in kind and voluntary support with local community groups.
Local knowledge and skills exist in our local community groups and churches and they are willing to contribute this knowledge to help find solutions and their early inclusion leads to local ownership and buyin.
Being proactive with early planning and being open and fully inclusive, using a multi stakeholder approach has enabled me to get activities done. The process requires timely and updated information and data from many sectors so the outreaching and networking is critical. It has to be a locally driven process with early national buy-in by stakeholders.
There is need to build up the multi disciplinary and multi sector team and partnerships with government and NGO/FBO/local community groups and use a participatory approach in the design of the activities.
The engagement process should be seen as Capacity building for everyone where we dentify the skill sets and capabilities required and get activities started taking into account our limited human resources. We all learn in the process.Setting up of the GEF/TAC-an interagency mechanism for sharing information among multi sectoral stakeholders for reviewing and approving national projects allows for input from all the stakeholder and creates a mechanism for sharing. To date the GEF/TAC monthly has had 34 meetings and has representation from the private sector, NGO and local community groups .
The process of community engagement does work effectively allowing me to functions as a NGO hub in the country and to get local community individuals and groups actively involved. The key role is to identify groups, provide information, organize meeting and get inputs into the policy docs. This builds the trust and helps in identifying key threats and risks and validates the Environmental and Social Safeguards and provides the gender disaggregation information.
Persistence is required for the process can be very time consuming but it is a learning process. The process for success requires building effective interactive interagency relationships which create the horizontal and vertical linkages that provide the information and support required to meet the goals .
Resources devoted to delivery
No. Title Source Author Publication Title Volume Number Date Page Number
1 Renewable Energy for Sustainable communities http://www.oas.org/en/media_center/press_release.asp?sCodigo=E-043/16 OAS-Press Department Renewable Energy for sustaibable communities E-043/16 April 13, 2016 Edit
2 Water documentary for IRENA project submission https://youtu.be/9dxJPUyxyNY Ruth Spencer 2015 Edit
3 Sustainable Housing for persons with disabilities https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p4vsGeUEVio Ruth Spencer 2016 Edit
4 Civil Society in a Changing Climate https://youtu.be/e_ayjuyA2eQ Caribbean News Service Dec 2015-Paris Summit Edit
5 Adaptation Fund-10th Anniversary Publication https://www.adaptation-fund.org/antigua-barbuda-using-box-hand-community-lending-model-adaptation-finance/ narrative and pictures provided by Ruth Spencer July 2017 Edit
6 Panelist at Adaptation Fund-Side Eventt at SB46, Bonn, Germany, May 2017 http://bit.ly/2qKNPwR Ruth Spencer May 2017 Edit
7 Sustainable Cities Course-Module One-Antigua and Barbuda http://www.oas.org/en/sedi/dsd/Biodiversity/Sustainable_Cities/Sustainable_Communities/Events/SC%20Course%20Antigua%20and%20Barbuda%202016/Module%20I/ModuleI.asp OAS June 24-30, 2016 Edit
8 R.Spencer-Solar energy project Antigua Observer newspaper Edit
9 Antigua faces Climate risks Inter Press Service Desmond Brown http://www.ipsnews.net/2014/10/antigua-faces-climate-risks-with-ambitious-renewables-target/ narrative and video Edit
10 The green Initiative Caribbean Export Development Agency-EU Caribbean Export Development Agency http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HuZvp5u18cw#t=18 Dec, 2013
My actions and practices are supported by the Environmental Protection and Management Bill of 2015 and other new regulations currently being developed under the Paris Agreement ..For Antigua as a country to develop GHG experts and enhance UNFCCC reporting , legislative changes are required to enhance the country capacities to efficiently develop GHG inventories, mitigation projections, and to track NDCs. I am a part of the local multi sector stakeholder team currently developing our first BIENNIAL UPDATE REPORT(BUR) report which include sections on the IPCCC guidelines to measure the country’s GHG emissions along with the associated software details. It is by complying with the various reporting components of the Paris Agreement and identifying our gaps and short comings and training needs that we can then submit projects for funding to build capacities and competencies to the Green Climate fund This is a new climate change action for a small island of 90,000 persons whose contributions to GHG is miniscule yet as a country we are fully committed and dedicated to keep temperatures below 1.5 degrees, and we are adhering to the conditions of the Paris Agreement and I am doing my utmost as a private individual to educate citizens and for public education and awareness. Antigua is piloting and pioneering initiatives and we are showing the world that things can be done if we can put the legislation in place and work in strong partnerships.