Launched at the One Planet Summit of December 2017 by Richard Branson, CEO of Virgin Unite together with 3 heads of governments of the Caribbean region, the Accelerator is led by 27 Caribbean government leaders and supported by cross-sector partners and multilateral institutions, bringing stakeholders together around a shared vision for transformative climate action for Carribean nations and innovative solutions to achieve it.
The central objective of the Accelerator is to help transform the Caribbean economy through fast-tracking sound public and private investment opportunities that support climate action paired with economic growth. This will enable Caribbean countries to build resilient infrastructure and societies, create jobs and catalyze economic growth, accelerate broad-based socio-economic development, and advocate to ensure that the region stays at the top of the global agenda, communicating a shared vision of opportunity.
The accelerator is becoming a living lab that pioneers new sources of energy, new ways of doing business, new financing instruments and insurance products, and new climate-smart cities and coastal communities.
The Accelerator is supported by the Virgin Unite and works for the governments of 27 Caribbean countries. Partners include the World Bank and the Interamerican Development Bank which finance some of the projects, as well as private companies such as AirBnB and Bitt, and NGOs such as The Nature Conservancy and Oceans Unite.
The Accelerator has incubated numerous projects, such as an urban waste management project that uses new technologies to convert plastic waste into building material for hurricane resilient housing, or to turn sargassum algae - an invasive species - into fertilizer.
20 solar panel projects on numerous remote islands in the Bahamas have been developed through the gas pedal, and another innovative project has installed drinking water dispensers at the Kingston Hospital. Four pilot projects are also being evaluated for replication in the Caribbean.
Leaders of the Carribean have adopted a strategy for the accelerator with 3 clear overearching goals :
1) Place the region on an irreversible path to generate 90% of electricity from renewable resources and electrify the transport sector by 2035
The Caribbean region has some of the highest cost per kwh of electricity in the world. In addition to decreasing carbon emissions, by moving to renewable energy and electrifying transportation, capital can be redeployed to help balance the books and make further investments in building climate and economic resilience.
2) Establish a strong governing framework and secure required investment by placing the region on a firm path to protect 30% of our ocean and land by 2030
‘Blue belts’ of coral and mangroves are some of the most cost-effective ways to protect islands from storm surges and sea-level rise. Protected blue and green spaces also absorb carbon, build resilience, provide for livelihoods and can create cash flows. By tapping innovative financial mechanisms, we will help to better value and invest in nature-based resilience and incentivize strong governing frameworks. This is in line with the High ambition coalition for nature and people of the One Planet Summit
3) Strengthen the region’s economic resilience against exogenous shocks by building climate action as an economic industry
In addition to diversifying regional economies too heavily dependent on tourism, climate solutions will aid in digitally transforming the region, converting its greatest vulnerability into an economic opportunity to future-proof our economies.
For this purpose, it incubates projects which have a high impact (with positive, transformative potential across areas aligned with The Accelerator’s strategy and climate mitigation & adaptation) which are low risk (with strong political will and sponsorship, local ownership where there are strong execution partners to implement) and which are immediate (with the potential to generate positive short term impact and deliver measurable results)