SINT MAARTEN/MIAMI, Florida - Advancing its dedication to maintaining strong environmental standards and promoting its commitment to financing sustainable infrastructure and environmentally friendly projects throughout the Caribbean, CIBC FirstCaribbean served as co-title sponsor for one of the region’s most pivotal conferences focused on the further development of green and sustainable infrastructure.
Speaking at the 7th Caribbean Infrastructure Forum, hosted by New Energy Events, CIBC FirstCaribbean Executive Director of Corporate Banking & Sustainable Finance, Gillian Charles-Gollop said the bank remains committed to facilitating sustainable financing for infrastructure projects that are climate resilient and will bode well for the region.
“We were one of the first regional banks that actually financed renewable energy,” Charles-Gollop said.
“We started with the 30-megawatt windfarm in Curacao, which has since been further developed. We’ve done renewable energy in Jamaica and Cayman Islands. So, it’s always been a commitment for us, in terms of investing in the region in a positive way. What we’re doing now is in line with some of the things we’ve been doing for the last 30 years,” she said.
“For example, we would use the equator principles as well, which really deals with sustainability and the environment. Part of our strategy is turning our buildings into more ‘green buildings’ and making them more energy efficient, in terms of conservation. We recently installed some of the electric chargers for vehicles and we have been encouraging our leaders to convert their vehicles to electric,” she added.
CIBC FirstCaribbean has remained at the forefront of financing sustainable and renewable energy projects, having invested in transactions totaling over $150 million in wind and solar projects across the region, according to the company’s Annual Report for 2022.
Through its Blue loan financing, the bank has co-arranged $146M in financing with $73M in committed funding for the Government of Barbados in relation to Marine Conservation.
“Blue Financing is really about how we in the region can protect our marine environment and best use the resources that we have to sustainably develop and drive the economy,” Charles-Gollop said.
“You not only have the marine environment for tourism, but the fisheries that supports our food industry. So, it is really about how we can really protect our marine environment but also be able to identify the areas where we can also use it for economic development, whether it be for tourism or the fisheries industry.”
According to Charles-Gollop, governments make up the lion share of applicants for Blue financing, keeping in line with countries’ global environmental commitments and targets.
CIBC FirstCaribbean’s parent company, CIBC Canada, has been a signatory on the UN Principles for Responsible Investment since 2018 and is a founding signatory on the 2050 Net Zero Banking Alliance. The bank remains actively engaged in supporting a number of causes across the business footprint through its charitable arm, the FirstCaribbean ComTrust Foundation.
During CARIF 2023, government leaders, as well as executives from the private and public sectors throughout the Caribbean engaged in active discussion centered around sustainable infrastructure for the region. Topics included meeting the infrastructure needs of the cruise tourism and shipping industry, building grid infrastructure for the future of Caribbean power, mobilizing capital for food security, and improving distribution networks.
Gillian Charles-Gollop addressing the CARIF 23 Conference.