PRIVATE SECTOR URGED TO INVEST MORE IN BARBADOS’ CLIMATE CHANGE RESILIENCE
By Jenique Belgrave
Barbados’ private sector is being challenged to allocate more funds towards building the island’s resilience to climate change.
Stressing that the Government could not carry the financial burden of improving education, housing, welfare and infrastructure alone, Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister Senator Dr. Shantal Munro-Knight insisted that businesses must do more, particularly in positioning the country to respond to climate-related risks.
“The analysis shows that private finance is only five per cent of the financing mix and, therefore, there is a challenge that is afoot to the private sector because the challenge of climate change is not just a challenge of the Government, it is the challenge of our society. And, therefore, if the private sector does not come forward and stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the Government and with citizens, there will be a price to pay for all of us,” she warned.
“So that the partnership that we need is not only in the context of us saying to the international financial architecture that you need to come to the table, but it’s a challenge that we have to issue to the private sector as well, to be able again to deliver practically for all of us.”
Munro-Knight was speaking at the launch of the Global Climate Fund’s Reduce, Reuse, Recycle for Climate Resilience Wastewater Systems in Barbados project at the Bridgetown Sewage Treatment Plant in Lakes Folly.
The $100 million project, which commenced last November, will see the facility move from a secondary to a tertiary wastewater treatment plant over a five-year period. Eighty per cent of the funding is being provided by the GCF, while the Government, through the Barbados Water Authority (BWA), is footing the rest of the bill.
While 99 per cent of the population has access to clean drinking water, General Manager of the BWA Keithroy Halliday noted that the upgrade is necessary to have non-potable water available for other purposes and to preserve potable water resources.
“The upgrade of the wastewater facility also represents a crucial investment to support the [Roofs to Reefs] programme, specifically towards managing fluvial and coastal erosion and ensuring that the aquatic resources remain protected and pristine….
“The upgrade is also significant in terms of the impact on the economy. It strengthens the utility of water services and addresses water supply and demand challenges. A structured and efficient tertiary wastewater facility is essential to provide reliable water supply services to households and maintain the economic viability of industries that depend on water, such as fisheries, tourism, construction and agriculture,” he stated.
Executive Director of the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre Dr. Colin Young explained that in moving to a tertiary-level facility, the wastewater will pass through an increased level of treatment and can then be used for non-potable uses, including irrigation.
Currently, millions of gallons of treated wastewater produced by the plant are channelled into the sea.
“Barbados has such a water scarcity, the idea is to treat the water so that it meets international standards for tertiary level so that it can be reused by members of the population for non-potable resources like growing crops and washing dishes,” he stated.
Speaking to Barbados TODAY after the opening session of the launch, Young said the upgraded plant would also have a unique feature.
“In the dry season, this water will be pumped from the Bridgetown Sewage Treatment Plant up to the agricultural portions of Barbados where the farmers can then use it to irrigate their fields, rather than using well water, and then in the rainy season when there is enough water from the rain, there are going to be infiltration wells that will put that water from the plant back into the aquifer over a long period of time so that by the time it gets there, it will be clean and people will be able to extract it back from the wells,” he explained.