Carbon War Room
Aruba and the Carbon War Room launch the Smart Islands Economies Operation to create a replicable implementation model for low-carbon plans on other islands
On June 20, 2012, the Government of Aruba and the Carbon War Room, the global initiative founded by Sir Richard Branson and other entrepreneurs, announced a partnership to transition the island to 100% renewable energy during the UN’s Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development. The partnership would make Aruba the world’s first sustainable energy economy, with the Carbon War Room and the New America Foundation working to both devise and deploy an integrated strategy for the economy-wide transition – a world first, if successful.
“My vision is to create a social and economic resilience for Aruba that will improve the health, happiness and wellbeing of its citizens. I believe that today’s commitment will propel Aruba to the next level in our progress toward achieving sustainability,” said Mike Eman, Prime Minister of Aruba.
Aruba’s partnership with the Carbon War Room and the New America Foundation will bring together the expertise and political will to create and to implement a fully integrated strategy for sustainable prosperity. Aruba has already made significant advances toward sustainability, with 20% of its energy needs supplied by wind power and several solar projects in development, as well as innovative urban renewal projects designed to promote greater social cohesion of its neighborhoods.
The Government of Aruba, the Carbon War Room and the New America Foundation also filed with the United Nations their announcement of the Smart Island Strategy for Aruba and their commitment to transition the island to 100% renewable energy. The commitment may be found on the website of the United Nations at: www.uncsd2012.org/allcommitments.
According to Mr. Eman, “With our forward thinking utility companies WEB and ELMAR, and the technical assistance of top Dutch advisors, such as TNO, Aruba is within reach of achieving 50% use of renewable energy in the near term. Achieving the next 50%, however, will be more challenging, and we look forward to working with world-class partners of the Carbon War Room and the New America Foundation to make that a reality.”
The partners will develop a sustainable growth roadmap consistent with Aruba’s consensus-driven policymaking approach of “social dialogue.” Mr. Eman noted: “This is a transformative project that will touch many sectors in Aruba. The goal is to promote a greater quality of life for Arubans, so we will develop the plan after consultation with the all the stakeholders and extensive community participation, just as we have done on previous large projects. Social dialogue is based on a participatory model we have borrowed from the Dutch political process, and we find that it works very well transplanted to Aruba.”
The plan will address many areas beyond the transition to renewable energy. It also will create world-class walkable destinations for tourists and residents; provide incentives for household retrofits and commercial energy efficiency; implement a sustainable approach to smart growth in the tourism sector to create an inspirational holiday destination; and create an agriculture sector in Aruba that makes the best use of water resources.
Although sustainability and low-carbon plans are not new to island economies, successful implementation is. The Carbon War Room’s Smart Island Economies operation – which was also launched at the Rio+20 Conference – seeks to develop a successful model for low-carbon plan implementation, and replicate it across other Caribbean and Pacific islands that wish to take that pathway. It plans to attract top-tier technology companies to work on Aruba, and hopes to attract philanthropic funding at the early stages to catalyze private investment.
“I am thrilled that the Carbon War Room can help make a difference for Aruba and its people. Aruba can set a wonderful example for other island nations to prove that they can get rid of fossil fuels, protect their wonderful natural resources and still grow their economy – brilliant!” said Sir Branson, founder of the Carbon War Room.
The announcement at the Rio+20 Conference was made at Vision 20/30: Partnership for Islands event by Sir Branson and Aruba’s Prime Minister, and co-hosted by the Carbon War Room and the Climate Institute. The event witnessed other island economies make commitments to achieve energy independence. Other speakers included: Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, and Jose Maria Figueres, President of the Carbon War Room.
On behalf of the United Nations, Mrs. Figueres challenged Sir Branson and Jose Maria Figueres at the event to do even more and to replicate the Aruba model in 10 other island nations. They gladly accepted the challenge. As Mr. Eman stated: “I am excited about a project that can do so much good in Aruba, but if, as a small island, we also can make a contribution to helping other countries, we would be proud and very, very honored to do so.”
The Carbon War Room accelerates private-sector solutions to deploy profitable, scalable, clean technologies. It focuses on breaking down market barriers for capital to flow to entrepreneurial solutions, and takes a global sector-based approach.
The New America Foundation is a non-profit, non-partisan public policy institute that invests in new thinkers and new ideas to address the next generation of challenges facing the United States and the world. Launched in 1999, the foundation is led by President Steve Coll, and an outstanding board of directors, chaired by Eric Schmidt.
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Rocio de Mingo, Fabricio Sordoni and Gonzalo del Rio