Richard Branson, who has lived in British Virgin Islands for more than a decade, has championed efforts to strengthen the region’s climate resilience, infrastructure and energy independence.
The billionaire’s Caribbean Climate-Smart Accelerator, conceived at last year’s One Planet Summit in Paris, has been launched to finance and scale startups in 26 Caribbean countries and territories.
With a $6 million initial commitment from the Inter-American Development Bank, the World Bank, and the TIDES Foundation, the accelerator is poised to do much more: Branson is positioning the initiative as a conduit for billions of dollars of international pledges to Caribbean climate change and natural disaster resilience, including:
- The Inter-American Development Bank’s $1 billion pledge for climate-focused investments made at last year’s One Planet summit;
- The World Bank’s $2 billion portfolio for natural disaster protection; and
- The Government of Grenada’s $300 million plans to build the first “climate-smart city.”
In a statement, Branson said the initiative is ambitious and bold. “We are creating the world’s first climate-smart zone,” he said. “We have a vision of a Caribbean which is greener, stronger and more resilient than ever before – built on innovation, powered by clean, sustainable energy and accelerated by public and private investment.”
The accelerator was launched in Kingston, Jamaica. Olympian Usain Bolt and singer Sean Paul are supporting the initiative as celebrity ambassadors.