The NDCFI engages OECS MS in key sectors by way of Working Groups (WGs) established on Energy (including Transport), Water, and Other Critical Infrastructure, respectively. Comprising government and utility representatives from most OECS Member States (MS), the WGs were initially convened in the lead-up to the NDCFI’s inaugural Forum that was held in Saint Lucia in October 2018. They played a key role in the preparation of the Forum by providing a situational analysis of the related sectors in the MS, identifying gaps, challenges, and support required for implementation of the NDCs within their respective sectors, as well as identifying processes or methods which can be replicated or flagged as “Lessons Learned”.
The WGs continued to convene virtually after the 2018 Forum and throughout 2019 and played a critical role in elaborating the national and regional context for the NDCFI as well as in identifying priority issues and actions. They served as a vehicle for continued support to the OECS Member Countries following the Forum with a view to identifying and addressing technical and institutional barriers, creating a coordination platform or catalyzing innovative action, and mobilizing private sector investment. Inputs and ongoing engagement of the WGs remained critical to the further development of the NDCFI strategy and all its planning processes.
A plenary meeting of the WGs was held in Saint Lucia in July 2019 and the 2nd NDCFI Forum that had been planned for 2020 would have once again built on WG inputs and offered an opportunity for joint revision and planning of the WG process going forward. Key themes would have provided opportunities for cross-sectoral collaboration, for example, on the Water-Energy nexus. On the agenda were also the expansion of the WGs to more effectively engage NDC Focal Points where they are not the WG representatives, as well as increasing engagement across governments, especially with finance and planning departments. The effective engagement of private sector actors also remains a priority, as does the expansion of the WG process to other key sectors.
Despite the challenges of 2020 and more limited engagement of the NDCFI WGs, a virtual plenary meeting was convened in October 2020. The ongoing demand for sectoral exchange and peer learning at the regional level was confirmed, as were renewed commitment to the NDCFI WG process and an interest in expanding matchmaking opportunities under the NDCFI. WG members shared updates on new projects, pipelines, financing, policies, and planning, and discussed gaps, needs, and concrete opportunities for regional and cross-sector action under the NDCFI, as well as implications, and in many cases delays, due to the impacts of the COVID 19 pandemic. With MS in various stages of the revision of their NDCs, plans, challenges, and opportunities for collaborative action at the regional level were discussed, as were synergies with National Adaptation Plans, overall development planning, and opportunities for support on attracting private finance. The need for increasing awareness on NDCs and synergies with financial and other planning was reiterated, as was the central aspect of resilience.
As OECS MS revise and renew their NDC commitments and embark on ambitious plans for their implementation, regional collaboration at the sectoral level, as well as across sectors, will remain key. Efforts are being made to expand the reach of the WGs to include finance and economic colleagues, as well as the private sector where a sectoral approach offers a viable entry point to effectively engage key elements of a highly diverse group of stakeholders.
Learning from each other helps avoid duplication and inefficiencies where resources are already stretched. The OECS Commission’s mandate and track record offer a promising platform to jointly address barriers ranging from inadequate legislation, to strengthening the negotiation capacity of regulators, to policy alignment, and market development. Also, and while the pandemic has certainly exacerbated financing challenges, it may also offer opportunities to tap new sources of funding to assist with a green recovery that advances climate action while rethinking and rebuilding economies to increase resilience, deliver on ambitions for sustainable development, and pursue de-carbonization strategies.
Individually, sectoral departments across the region may be small, but the potential for creating synergies, economies of scale, and regional opportunities that are bigger than the sum of their parts remains big and the NDCFI committed to expanding regional and sectoral collaboration through the NDCFI WG process. Sign up now to stay tuned as the NDCFI develops its WG plans for 2021.