by STAFF WRITER
ST. GEORGE’S, Grenada, Jan 20, CMC – A four-day inaugural Caribbean Waste to Energy Conference and Exposition began here on Wednesday with Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell indicating that Grenada is fully committed to working towards a zero waste economy.
He told delegates attending the conference which is intended to improve understanding that effectively managed waste can be a renewable resource that it was necessary for the island to develop such a policy, which will provide the framework for sustainable management of waste in the region.
“We recognise that waste is a valuable resource, an important source of energy, and that the current waste management practices are resulting in an economy and citizenry that are more vulnerable to the impacts of climate change,” Prime Minister Mitchell said.
“A critical issue is that in the majority of Caribbean countries, imported petroleum is the chief source of primary commercial energy, while vast renewable energy resources remain to be developed.”
The conference is being held under the theme “Energy Services From Waste: The Development of a Regional Integrated Organic Waste Management Sector” and is being organised to promote improved management of waste for environmental protection and strengthening coastal resilience to climate change impacts.
Mitchell said that while global oil prices are now at their lowest levels in over a decade, high and generally unpredictable oil prices have consistently retarded the competitiveness of regional goods and services.
“Scarce foreign exchange earnings that are being spent by our countries to pay for energy imports could be otherwise directed to alleviating poverty, adapting to climate change and sea level rise, or finance other critical interventions which are necessary for building our social, economic and climate resilience; thus increasing our ability to recover and respond which is the cornerstone of sustainable development,” he suggested.
Among the agenda items for the conference is how to deal with the liquid/effluent waste problem that is plaguing all countries and is manifested in the erosion of beaches, oceans and the destruction of the agricultural base.
Mitchell, who is the Minister with responsibility for Science and Technology within CARICOM, said that by turning pollution into energy, the region can prevent contamination of coral reefs and fisheries and allow them to recover.
“By recycling the waste nutrients on land, we can avoid the need to import fertilizers,” he told the participants.
The objectives of the conference are to update participants on the advances in conversion technology and the new opportunities to establish small and medium scale enterprises; provide information on potential financing mechanism for projects that covers the thematic areas of waste water energy and identify additional potential organic waste-to-energy (WTE) projects across the region.