Bamboo, one of the world’s fastest growing plants and a rapidly renewable source of fibre, is a multipurpose non-timber forest resource which today supports value chains across the world worth approximately US$60 billion per year. The nations of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) have considerable bamboo resources, which could play a major role in helping the region to:
- reduce poverty and promote green growth
- develop increased regional and international trade and investment
- restore degraded lands and reduce vulnerability to natural disasters.
In recent years, innovations in bamboo processing have seen bamboo become a legally approved building material across the Andean Countries of Colombia, Ecuador and Peru, while industrial development in Asia has resulted in domestic bamboo sectors in countries, such as India and China, growing in value to US$4 billion and US$32 billion respectively. However, despite these advances, today, bamboo in the Caribbean is heavily underutilized.
Although underutilized, a number of CARICOM Member States are now beginning to recognize the potential of bamboo, with Jamaica and Suriname both being members of the International Bamboo and Rattan Organisation (INBAR), an intergovernmental organization dedicated to promoting the benefits to producers and users of bamboo and rattan within the context of a sustainable resource base.
In 2015, Jamaica also became the Chair of INBAR’s Council of 43 member states. As Chair, Jamaica started to take steps to develop a domestic bamboo industry, with bamboo charcoal producers then emerging and exporting orders to the USA.
Under the leadership of Jamaica, INBAR began plans to organize a regional symposium for the Caribbean in November 2018 to show the potential to initiate a region-wide Bamboo for the Caribbean Program. Even though the Chairmanship of INBAR is now with Ecuador, the plans continued and the Caribbean International Bamboo Symposium has materialized and will be held in November 2018 at the Jamaica Conference Centre in Kingston and culminate with a Field Visit to bamboo productive enterprises. This symposium marks the first such initiative by INBAR in the Western Hemisphere.
The overall objective of this conference is to bring together relevant regional stakeholders from government, civil society and the private sector in the Caribbean Community to raise awareness for bamboo’s potential to act as a strategic resource for poverty alleviation, green growth, increased trade and investment and natural disaster mitigation.
The specific objective is to provide a forum for expanded dialogue and highlighting best practices on green economic growth and increased regional and international trade and investment in Bamboo; and to agree on and develop a roadmap for a new regional program – Bamboo for the Caribbean – that enables CARICOM Member States to fully realize the potential of their bamboo resources.
An open gathering for the local and overseas participants to be introduced to the international bamboo experts by way of key thematic presentations at this CIBS. It will include a presentation on Bamboo standards as well as executive reports and discussions on the following topics:
- Engaging Small Businesses and Investors
- Financial support for Bamboo MSME’s
- Bamboo and natural Fibres for Jamaica and the Caribbean
- Building Training Programmes and Bamboo Capacity
- Increasing participation in international work for targeted economic areas
- INBAR and GABAR
- How can standards support the Bamboo Industry
- Service economy – methodology for standardization
- Bamboo policies and National Development Plans
- Entrepreneurs and the use of standards
- Bamboo and the Sustainable development goals