Two regional partners regaled the importance of cooperation in achieving beneficial objectives, as a new project was launched recently to help improve quality systems in the Caribbean.

The “Strengthening of the Regional Quality Infrastructure Programme”, a joint initiative between the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) and the CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality (CROSQ), is funded by the CDB to the tune of US$750,000.

The three main objectives of the 18-months project are:

  • Development of National Quality Policies (NQPs) using the Regional Quality Policy (RQP) in at least five countries with associated Implementation Roadmaps in order to strengthen the policy and regulatory framework to support national quality infrastructure (NQI) development;
  • Technical assistance to at least two testing laboratories for International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) 17025 accreditation; and,
  • Design and implementation of a comprehensive information and awareness campaign to promote and sensitise stakeholders on matters relating to the operationalisation of the quality policies and to improve knowledge and use of accredited testing services.

At the launch, held at the CDB’s Conference Room, Wildey, St. Michael, Barbados, one of the Directors of CROSQ, Mrs. Anthea Ishmael noted that this project was coming at a time when the organisation was ever expanding its partnerships regionally and internationally.

She noted that projects, including with the European Union, the Federal Republic of Germany through the German National Metrology Institute, the CARICOM Energy Unit, the African Regional Standards Organisation (ARSO); the European Committee for Standardization, ASTM International, United Nations Industrial and Development Organisation, the ACP Secretariat and several others were all partnerships that were bringing value to the region by expanding the expertise of quality professionals and institutions here.

This new project, would continue adding value to what currently exists, said Mrs. Ishmael, who is also Acting Director of the Barbados National Standards Institution (BNSI).

“Our region has always had tremendous potential, but challenges have existed and continue to exist in accessing opportunities and technical assistance to push our industries further; to make our sectors more competitive beyond our shores. This is where the CROSQ and CDB can be more effective in our relationship – bringing that kind of value to those who need it,” she noted.

In remarking on the Bank’s commitment to development and integration, Coordinator of Regional Cooperation and Integration, Ms. Andrea Power stated: “The project is indicative of the Bank’s belief in and commitment to regional integration as the basis on which our economies can achieve global competitiveness. It is for this reason that the Bank has given priority to partnering with technically competent regional institutions to facilitate the implementation of regional decisions and policies at the national level. All this with the ultimate goal of increasing intra-regional trade.”

CROSQ is the network of 15 national bureaux of standards of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM). Its partnerships with the CDB date back to 2012 when the two entities first began cooperating towards creating regional standards and quality systems in specific sectors.

Following the launch, the Project Steering Committee for the Strengthening of the Regional Quality Infrastructure Programme, met to discuss a number of issues pertinent to the success of the project. The Committee is comprised of representatives of the CDB, CROSQ, the Caribbean Export and Development Agency (CEDA) and a regional QI institution and accreditation body.

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The Antigua and Barbuda Bureau of Standards (ABBS) has officially launched its fuel pump verification programme, thereby joining the ranks of some other CROSQ Member States.

In April this year, the Metrology Act came into effect and the Bureau of Standards proposed its first steps for implementation of the Act to be the establishment of a national Fuel Pump Verification Service.

At the launch of the programme a few months later, Chairman of the Antigua and Barbuda Standards Council, Mr. Cottrille George said: “This journey for developing the nation’s quality infrastructure employs metrology or measurement  science as one of the main vehicles for  promoting  fairness and equity in trade, business excellence and  consumer confidence. 

“It is for this reason that we celebrated the proclamation of the Metrology Act in April this year. This Act gives credence to the Bureau’s mandate to ensure the accuracy of weighing and measuring instruments used in trade. The  practice of checking, because  it is mandated by law, is  known as  legal Metrology, and will soon become a  regular consideration and /or  characteristic  of  any  form of business for  which earnings or  profit are derived from measurements  based  activities.”

The journey to this stage involved Bureau of Standards personnel working with the fuel suppliers and retailers to perform checks/tests on the fuel dispensers for accuracy to ensure that the pumps are delivering correctly the stated metered quantities. This will ensure that consumers are receiving the quantities purchased and also retailers are not losing product due to faulty dispensing.

Having done the necessary preliminary checks, all fuel dispensers that have “passed the test” will be affixed with a blue validation sticker providing the logo and name of the Antigua and Barbuda Bureau of Standards and the expiration date of the authentication of the specific fuel dispenser nozzle.  

Consumers are being educated to look for these validation stickers and verifications will be carried out hereafter, in accordance with the provisions of the Metrology Act and Regulations. Lessons learnt will be shared with regional metrologists through CROSQ’s Caribbean Metrology Network (CARIMET) and that is recognized by SIM, the Inter-American Metrology System.

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07 December 2017

CROSQ Talking Energy

A major aspect to the recent 31st Meeting of the Council of CROSQ, in St. Kitts and Nevis was a half-day sensitization seminar on the ground-breaking efforts CROSQ has initialised in the area of energy, with joint-venture support from the CARICOM Secretariat’s Energy Unit.

The workshop, which took place on the first day of the two day CROSQ Council meeting, focused strictly on the increasing energy portfolio of the CROSQ network – namely the Regional Energy Efficiency Building Code (REEBC) Project, which is partnered with the GIZ-REETA programme (German Development Agency, Renewable Energy Efficiency Technical Assistance programme); and the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (R3E) Project, which is funded by the German National Metrology Institute (PTB).

Technical Officer, Communication and Information, Ms. Latoya Burnham, who conceptualised the seminar, along with other technical staff of the CROSQ Secretariat explained that the key objective was awareness.

“The main things we wanted our directors to walk away with were – an understanding of the progress made thus far with our energy projects; what the next steps would be, and what would be needed in terms of collaborations and cooperation to make our outcomes successful. Primary among all this of course, was to also hear what their concerns were; their thoughts on the Energy Roadmap that has been devised with considerable CARICOM Energy Unit input and their suggestions to us that could make it all happen.

“The manner in which CROSQ functions makes all our project implementation at the national level; so whatever we do at the Secretariat, has to be rolled out on the ground among our regional people. So at every stage, the consultation, buy-in and clear ideas of the roles different parties have to play must be a central thread,” she stated.

As such, the Communication Officer said she believed their objectives were reached, especially as far as Member States understanding what comes next, how and why.

For the R3E Project, there was a major stakeholder meeting in Guyana in late October, and the Draft Minimum Energy Performance Standards for Energy Efficiency Buildings in the REEBC Project was still in Member States for comment and feedback, a process that remained open until the end of November 2017.

Activities will intensify in 2018 - with the expected approval of the REEBC by the CARICOM Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) and then the development of model legislation for the REEBC along with conferences and stakeholder engagements; and too, the declaration of regional standards for energy efficient lighting, air conditioners and refrigerators in the R3E Project, along with strengthening of laboratory testing capabilities for energy efficiency in these devices.

There will also be a pilot project for the energy efficient labelling scheme in select countries.

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10 October 2017

CROSQ on Good Path

The following is an edited version of the speech by Outgoing Chairman of the CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards & Quality, Mr. Jose Trejo at the Opening of the 31st Meeting of the Council of CROSQ, held at Marriott Resort, Frigate Bay, St. Kitts & Nevis on October 5, 2017.

It gives me great pleasure to welcome you to the 31st Council Meeting of the CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality. A special welcome to the Acting Permanent Secretary, Mrs. Weekes, we are glad that you could be here with us this morning to share a little bit of your time, surely enough we welcome you to stay for our seminar that will follow immediately after, to learn about the strides we are making in energy standards etc.  Let me also extend our sincerest gratitude to our host, Mr. Hiram Williams, Director of the St. Kitts Bureau of Standards for receiving us so graciously during our short stay. To the Directors, friends and colleagues present, I extend a warm welcome.

Before I address you, in my last capacity as Chairman of the Council, I would like to take this time to express our deepest sympathies to all the Caribbean Islands – CARICOM and non-CARICOM – that have been devastated by the passing of two successive and powerful hurricanes in the likes of Irma and Maria. As I watched the images light up on the television screen, I admittedly was jaded, as I am sure most of us were, in disbelief that this could be happening and that it did. The images that you no doubt have seen are a stark reminder that Mother Nature unleashes her fury at will and that the only thing that we can be thankful for in the aftermath, is life itself. Anything outside of this can be replaced. Anything outside of this can be rebuilt; but more so it speaks to the resolve of the unbreakable human spirit to carry on despite the heartbreaking devastation. I am positive that the strength and courage of the peoples of the Caribbean will prevail and that life as we know it will return to some sense of normalcy. We wish for a speedy recovery with the hope that the rhythmic sounds of steel pan and salsa will soon reverberate, flowing from the comfort of homes into the streets, fast restoring what we have come to recognise as truly Caribbean.

Colleagues, now to the order of business. As we gather here today at this 31st meeting, there is an enormous sense of pride felt as I reflect on what we collectively have achieved. It is without question that the Regional Quality Infrastructure (RQI) that we have been tirelessly focusing on over the past decade, is now bearing fruit.  In no special order, the region boasts its first ever Regional Quality Policy; a 5-year regional standards development priority plan; laboratories accredited with some as I speak in the pipeline; establishment of two Caribbean Reference Laboratories in Volume and Temperature; Quality Awards schemes developed, marketing and communication plans that in principle are packaged to promote and sell QI services; a Secretariat that has developed an on-demand skill-set that can now confidently extend itself to the wider region.  Fair to say that the majority of this was accomplished under the 10th EDF-TBT project executed by the PTB with CROSQ and INDOCAL serving as sub-executing agencies.

To this end, it is important to recognise the technical and financial support that the region has received from its regional and international partners and donor agencies. Arms outstretched, it also serves as given testimony that the region has slowly gained the trust and confidence of it partners and agencies as evidenced in the scaling up of recent initiatives, namely CDB, Tradecom and the PTB to mention a few.  As this pool widens so will the benefits flow towards the continued advancement of the RQI.

Colleagues, as we push towards a new frontier we are bound to encounter challenges. I therefore urge you to be ever so mindful that we must in collective fashion, continue to rally as a group to overcome these challenges. Please allow me to say, that no one institution should bear the burden and struggle of solving institutional challenges on its own especially when among you is a repository of experiences that can be draw upon to provide the lift that we more than often need.

With this, I ask those of you who have spent a great portion of your professional careers in quality systems to continue to provide your support and to continue to be the stalwarts for QI. To the new comers – and once upon a time I would consider myself in this group but my grey hair now tells me otherwise – I want to encourage you to be open and willing to bring fresh and innovative ideas to a dynamic field that could  never be short of it.

If you will allow me, I would now like to personally thank the Council for giving me this opportunity to serve as the Chairman. It was indeed an honour and privilege to serve in this capacity for the past two years. It was quite an experience, as I have candidly echoed to some of you, much of the credit is due to the work of the CEO and the staff of the Secretariat. Under his sound leadership and support CROSQ is gradually distinguishing itself from the pack, elevating itself as a premier CARICOM Organisation on this platform for RQI.

The CEO continues to thread the needle to ensure that the internal environment at the level of the Secretariat continues to evolve to meet the multidimensional and multidisciplinary needs of the external environment in our region. This has brought to bear a Branding Strategy that is tightly knit to meet the region’s needs in an efficient and effective manner. It should come as no surprise then that we are indeed turning heads. The CEO’s efforts to draw the attention of regional and international organisations to the unfolding of an RQI in the Caribbean has been nothing short of relentless.

This pivoted on the successes that the region has been experiencing despite the multiplicity of needs across an economic and geographical space that may at times, appear far and wide. The push for the RQI in the Caribbean to stand its own, is an opportunity to explore new frontiers across other regional organisations that not only can assist and support our region but that can also equally learn from us. The CEO has ensured that this plays out to the tune of a region that is outward looking; fully embracing of new alliances that will undoubtedly propel the growth and development of the RQI further into the foreseeable future.  To the CEO and his staff, I extend my deepest and sincerest gratitude for all the support that they have given me during this time. 

I think it is most appropriate to close with a bold declaration that the RQI is on an unprecedented path of development and as it continues to gather momentum, I remain ever so excited and positive about its future. It is my sincerest hope that we continue to support the Secretariat and the incoming Chair as they carry us into what I consider a promising future.

Colleagues, ladies and gentlemen, let not our hearts be troubled, the RQI is in a good place.  I welcome you and thank you once again.

(Mr. Trejo is also the Director of the Belize Bureau of Standards.)

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The following is an edited version of the speech delivered by Acting Executive Director of the St. Kitts & Nevis Bureau of Standards (SKNBS), Mr. Hiram Williams at the Opening of the 31st Meeting of the Council of CROSQ, held at the Marriott Resort, Frigate Bay, St. Kitts & Nevis on Thursday, October 5, 2017. 

"Being part of the global market, the Government of St. Kitts and Nevis is signatory to trade agreements such as the Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) Agreement, implemented within the World Trade Organisation (WTO), for which the Bureau of Standards is designated as the Enquiry Point. Under the TBT agreement, states parties are obligated to base their national technical regulations on international standards and to participate in conformity assessments systems.

The World Trade Organization Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade (WTO/TBT) recognises the importance and the role of international standards and conformity assessment systems in improving efficiency in production and facilitating global trade. The process of developing National Standards requires significant technical and financial resources. Member States have to use the limited technical and financial resources well.

Developing and effectively implementing standards is not only a lengthy exercise but also costly. A lot of people from these organizations take personal loans to cover such costly expenses! It is important that we make good use of these limited resources to develop our Quality Infrastructure as it relates to Standardisation, Metrology, Certification, Accreditation and Conformity Assessment. Our membership in CROSQ provides us with access to standards developed and harmonised through the coordinated effort of the organisation's Technical Management Committee (TMC). Hence, the Government will continue to support  the  Bureau’s  participation in our own regional organisation CARICOM Organisation for Standards and Quality (CROSQ), and also support our strategic alliance with International Organisations such as the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO), the Inter-American Metrology System (SIM), Codex Alimentarius (the world’s  most recognised food standards body), Pan-American Standards Commission (COPANT), International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) and ASTM International.

The SKNBS is happy to participate in CROSQ's programme to harmonise regional standards and promote their awareness to improve competiveness and facilitate regional and international trade.  In this regard, we commend CROSQ for developing a regional standardisation strategy and also for assisting the Member States in developing their own National Standardisation Strategies.

We are pleased with our partnership with CROSQ and the other Member States as we work together as a region to influence the content of International Standards.  And indeed, this was demonstrated recently under the SKNBS's project – “Enhancing the National Quality Infrastructure of ST. Kitts and Nevis”, where we received valuable technical assistance from CROSQ in providing the Technical Officer for Standards from the Secretariat and the Chief Technical Officer for Standards at the Barbados National Standards Institute (BNSI), Mr St. Prix and Mr Scott respectively, to assist us in the implementation of the National Standardisation Strategy. Similarly, we are grateful to the Bureau of Standards Jamaica (BSJ) and Trinidad and Tobago Bureau of Standards (TTBS) for facilitating training attachments for SKNBS technical staff.

Standards and Conformity Assessment procedures are critical and essential to our national quality infrastructure as it relates to health and safety, industry and commerce and to the nation's economic performance. It is estimated that about 80% of global trade in goods and services is affected by standards and technical regulations based on standards.  For this and other economic reasons, it is essential for countries to develop and implement national standardisation strategies that will facilitate the development and adoption of standards to meet market needs and requirements to effectively compete and trade globally.

Our membership in regional and international organisations permits us to influence the development and content of regional and international standards and conformity assessment programmes that enhance our position in the global marketplace.

So in addition to our involvement in CROSQ and being the enquiry point for the WTO - TBT agreement, the Bureau is also:

  • Contact point for Codex Alimentarius, the leading international food standard organisation,
  • one of the contact points for International Food Safety Authorities Network (INFOSAN),
  • focal point for the Stockholm Convention that deals with the reduction and eventual elimination of persistent organic pollutants, and also,
  • the focal point for the Minamata Convention.

And I am pleased to inform you that on the advice of the Bureau of Standards, the Government of St. Kitts and Nevis ratified the Minamata convention in May 2017.  The Minamata Convention on Mercury is a global treaty to protect human health and the environment from the adverse effects of mercury.

In keeping with the Bureau’s responsibilities and the Federation's obligations under international trade agreements, such as the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), the Bureau has embarked on the development of training programmes and projects specifically geared towards building our Quality Infrastructure. And, as mentioned earlier, we requested and received technical assistance from CROSQ for development and implementation of a process to adopt and develop standards according to best practices. One of the main outcomes was the establishment of six (6) technical committees to address issues and matters that are relevant and important to the Federation. The committees established were:

  • National Committee on Environmental Management;
  • Committee on Labelling;
  • Committee on Tourism and Related Services;
  • National Committee on Codex, to deal with Food Safety and Standards;
  • National Committee on Information and Communication Technology, and
  • The Energy, Electrical and Mechanical Technical Committee

And these six committees are in addition to the existing National Committee of Conformity Assessment Bodies, which is chaired by Dr Marcus Natta, SKNBS’ Science and Research Manager, who is also the National Accreditation Focal Point and presently in Geneva attending  one of ISO's -  Committee on Conformity Assessment (CASCO) working group meetings.

Another programme that the SKNBS benefited from was also supported by CDB under the 10th EDF standby facility project “Enhancing the National Quality infrastructure of St. Kitts and Nevis”. This project provided assistance to the Bureau (SKNBS) to undertake development plans to ensure accuracy and reliability of its test results. Hence a major milestone in this plan is to be accredited to ISO/IEC 17025 standard and upgrade and acquiring key pieces of equipment. During the last 12 months, the SKNBS staff has worked extremely hard in developing and receiving training for the implementation of a Quality Management System as per the requirements of ISO/IEC 17025. And as I said, our aim is to be accredited by 2018 starting with selected microbiology tests.

I want to take this opportunity to commend the CEO and staff of CROSQ, particularly over the last year where there has been a drive with success to develop and establish new partnerships and cooperation with relevant regional and international organisations of interest to Member States. We have to adapt to a changing world and this type of partnership and cooperation will help CROSQ to demonstrate and establish itself as a significant and relevant regional standards organisation that can prepare Member States to have an impact on the content of international standards.

Therefore, on behalf of the Minister and the Ministry of International trade, Industry, Commerce and Consumer Affairs, we express our appreciation for having the opportunity to host the 31st Council of CROSQ meeting and Energy Awareness Seminar and wish that we have a fruitful and successful two days of deliberations.

Thank you."

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Energy conservation and implementation of an Energy Efficiency Building Code are critical to mitigate the impacts of climate change which pose great risks to countries, like St. Vincent and the Grenadines, within the Caribbean.

This was the sentiment was expressed by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Commerce in St. Vincent and Grenadines, Mrs. Sandy Peters-Phillips, on Monday, 24 July 2017, when she addressed the opening of the Second Meeting of the Regional Project Team (RPT) for the Development of the CARICOM Energy Efficiency Building Code. The Meeting was held in Kingstown, St. Vincent over two days, 24-25 July 2017, and according to Dr. Devon Gardner, Programme Manager for Energy within the CARICOM Secretariat, signaled the “collective intent of CARICOM to act in a collaborative and cohesive manner to give life an Energy Efficiency Building Code for the region”.

Dr. the Honourable, Ralph Gonsalves, Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, who made an appearance at the technical meeting session, provided critical insight into a number of key issues, especially the legal requirements and socioeconomic considerations at national levels, of which the RPT should be mindful. He indicated that the inclusive approach that was being pursued, with regards to the EEBC development, could contribute toward a balancing of the technical options, which were being considered by the experts, with the national realities and provide to an easier path for country adoption.

At this, the Second Meeting, the RPT reached consensus on a Draft Caribbean Application Document (CAD), just four months after the first meeting was convened in Kingston, Jamaica. The meeting also resulted in the endorsement of a programme of work for the effective, efficient and timely completion of the Regional EEBC.

The RPT, which comprises energy efficiency and standards development experts nominated by National Bureaus of Standards from across the Region, was formally launched in March 2017 with the mandate to review and determine an optimal approach for adapting and developing, an appropriate code for consideration as the Energy Efficiency Building Code (EEBC) for CARICOM.

The first meeting had approved the use of the International Energy Conservation Code 2018 (IECC 2018) as the reference code for the Regional EEBC. Since, a Draft CAD was developed, through a cooperation between the CARICOM Secretariat and the CARICOM Regional Organization for Standards and Quality (CROSQ), and reviewed by Committees established within the Member States that engaged key stakeholders. The revised draft of the CAD will now be open to the general public in Member States for validation.

The EEBC, which will address all aspects of energy use in buildings, is expected to reduce the dependency on imported fossil fuels within the Region by reducing buildings’ energy consumption. Furthermore, it can substantially contribute to compliance with domestic targets for sustainable energy use and global commitments for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction.

 

The development of the CARICOM EEBC is being supported by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, through the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Technical Assistance (REETA) Programme, as well as the Global Environment Facility (GEF), through the Energy for Sustainable Development (ESD) in Caribbean Buildings Project.

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The 10th European Development Fund (EDF) Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) Programme has been deemed a success by its partners and stakeholders.

Concluded at the end of March 2017, the programme whose aim was to enhance the services of Quality Infrastructure within CARIFORUM countries to facilitate the smoother operations of trade, was centred around the development and equivalence of standards among Member States; development of metrology (science of measurement) services; the accreditation of laboratories and the development and implementation of testing, inspection and certification bodies and services, as well as the boost of awareness and information sharing.

The programme was managed by the German National Metrology Institute (PTB) and implemented by the CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality (CROSQ) and the Dominican Institute for Quality (INDOCAL) in the Dominican Republic.

Project Coordinator with CROSQ, Ms. Karlene Russell noted that it was a very successful implementation at a rate, as of mid-March, approaching 90 per cent completion.

“The main elements of the TBT Programme included capacity building in all areas of Quality Infrastructure. We also looked at international recognition of national and regional quality institutions, as well as regional harmonisation and equivalency, specifically related to standards development, and of course the promotion of a quality culture in the region.

“To date we have achieved 70 per cent of our performance indicators and another 20 per cent is about 50 per cent completed. So we are looking at significant progress being made in about 90 per cent of our performance indicators. And as far as the implementation of regional programmes go, that is a very very good result and we are very pleased with the success,” said the project coordinator.

The performance indicators are the benchmarks set in the project to gauge effectiveness and achievement of the objectives set within the overall project, as well as more specific areas. 

The project was a 7.8 Million Euro undertaking, of which about 95 per cent had been spent up to mid-March, which was also concomitant with the technical implementation, added Ms. Russell.

These comments underscored those of Chairman of CROSQ, Mr. Jose Trejo at two separate events in March, the Close-Out Seminar in Antigua and Barbuda, and then a regional press conference held via video conferencing systems and linking a majority of the Member States and Germany. 

Mr. Trejo noted that he was exceptionally pleased with the progress and results of the project, and over the coming years, CROSQ would aim to strengthen the platforms set.

“During the next few years, CROSQ will focus on strengthening Quality Infrastructure in the Services sector and creative industries. We will also seek to implement programmes that foster greater utilisation of national QI services by the private sector, public sector & academia. Programmes geared towards international accreditation of conformity assessment bodies – such as testing laboratories, inspection bodies and certification agencies, will be continued in earnest.

“As we pursue our regional development agenda we acknowledge that the CARICOM region is seen as attractive for investment and recognised for our competitive advantage in niche products.  Therefore as we continue to develop these markets, quality must remain at the centre in order to advance Caribbean Competiveness,” said the Chairman.

In offering congratulations, PTB’s Head of Technical Cooperation for Latin America and the Caribbean, Mr. Ulff Hillner noted, “It was in many respects a very rewarding experience for us as a National Metrology Institute. It was the first time the European Union directly entrusted and awarded us as a national organisation to execute this kind of project so we have been able to gain a lot of experience along the way.

“It was rewarding because a team was built in the process that spanned the region that included the CROSQ Secretariat and staff, the National Standards Bodies in CARICOM and the Dominican Republic, so in that way it was a novel and innovative approach which proved to be quite successful. . . I think the achievements speak for themselves,” said Mr. Hillner.

Among notable highlights of the project were:

• The development of a Regional Quality Policy that is now set to go before CARICOM’s Council on Trade and Economic Development for approval;

• The creation of a Five-Year Regional Standards Development Priority Plan, which was the first of its kind in the world to provide the Caribbean with a forward scope for the development of Standards. It has already gained the attention of the International Organisation for Standardization (ISO);

• The ISO9001 certifications in Belize, Jamaica and Suriname. 

• The creation of the Caribbean Cooperation for Accreditation (CCA) Scheme that coordinates regional experts in assisting laboratories and other bodies seeking accreditation, at reasonable rates;

• Equivalence of standards with five commodities between CARICOM and the Dominican Republic – to ensure the standards set at both trading ends were similar;

• The establishment of two Caribbean Reference Laboratories (CaRLs) in volume and temperature;

• Experts trained in mass and temperature in labs within the Region; and the provision of measurement equipment in all CARIFORUM countries;

• Awareness-raising about accreditation at the national level;

• Accreditation of five regional laboratories and one certification body utilising the Caribbean Cooperation for Accreditation (CCA) Scheme; as well as testing laboratories in Guyana, Jamaica, Suriname and Belize, and an inspection body in Trinidad and Tobago which are on the way to accreditation.

• CROSQ’s observer status on the World Trade Organisation’s TBT Committee;

• The production of a series of videos about the development of Regional Quality Infrastructure in the Caribbean, which are now available in 17 countries, including the Dominican Republic and Germany.

 

 

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by Jewel Fraser of Inter Press Service News Agency

Caribbean Community (CARICOM) states are in the process of formulating an energy efficiency building code for the region that would help reduce CO2 emissions, but implementation of the code may depend heavily on moral suasion for its success.

 

Fulgence St. Prix, technical officer for standards at CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality (CROSQ) who is overseeing the Regional Energy Efficiency Building Code (REEBC), told IPS, “When we at the regional level propose a standard or code it’s meant to be voluntary…We do not have the mechanism to dictate to member states to make any standard the subject of a technical regulation thus making implementation mandatory.”

In keeping with WTO guidelines, he said, “A standard is a voluntary document. You cannot force any member state to implement any one standard.” The decision as to whether to implement the REEBC, therefore, rests with member states.

The REEBC project was officially launched at a meeting in Jamaica at the end of March. This followed consultations over several months by a Regional Project Team comprising representatives from some of the Caricom member states, as well as regional architects, engineers, builders and electricians, on the need for a minimum energy efficiency building standard for the region.

It was unanimously agreed that it was imperative one be established and the decision was taken to base the REEBC on the 2018 version of the International Energy Conservation Code that will be published in July of this year.

“The goal is to have a document that would reduce the CO2 footprint on the average,” said St. Prix, adding that climate change is just one of the considerations driving the REEBC initiative. “If we could develop that code and have it effectively implemented, we could realise at least a 25 per cent reduction of CO2 emissions, but this is just an estimate.”

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) chapter on Buildings in its Fifth Assessment Report states that in 2010 buildings accounted for 32 per cent of total global final energy use, 19 per cent of energy-related greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions (including electricity-related), and approximately one-third of black carbon emissions.

GHG emissions in Latin America and the Caribbean from buildings were said to have grown to 0.28GtCO2eq/yr (280,000,000 tonnes of CO2 equivalents of GHG emissions) in 2010.

The report also states, “final energy use may stay constant or even decline by mid-century, as compared to today’s levels, if today’s cost-effective best practices and technologies are broadly diffused.”

However, the IPCC’s report suggests that moral suasion may not be the most effective means of achieving the implementation of energy efficiency standards. It notes, “Building codes and appliance standards with strong energy efficiency requirements that are well enforced, tightened over time, and made appropriate to local climate and other conditions have been among the most environmentally and cost-effective.”

Trinidadian architect Jo-Ann Murrell, managing director of Carisoul Architecture Co. Ltd., a firm that specialises in green architecture, said effective implementation of a regional energy efficiency building code may have to wait until the region’s younger generation become the decision makers with regard to home purchases.

“We have a younger generation who will be older at that time, who will be interested in investing in energy efficiency. They are interested in the sustainability of the climate,” she said.

She said that the subsidised cost of electricity in Trinidad and Tobago is 3 cents US per kWh. So, “there is not a desire on the part of clients, due to the cost factor, for using alternative sources of energy or using energy saving devices. So when we tell clients they can achieve energy savings if they use certain building methods, they will choose the energy efficient air conditioning unit, they will use LED lights, and so on, but [not always] when it comes to other options,” Murrell said.

She stressed, “We have very competent architects in Trinidad and Tobago and the architects are quite knowledgeable in terms of sustainable design. What we do not have are clients who are willing to do the financial outlay to incorporate sustainability.”

St. Prix also cited economic challenges for Caricom states wishing to implement the REEBC. “You know that member states are at very different stages of their development. Any building code is a challenge. The major challenge is human resources and [the need for] economic resources to be able to employ the needed personnel to implement the code.”

The IPCC report also cites transaction costs, inadequate access to financing, and subsidised energy as among the barriers to effective uptake of energy efficient technologies in building globally.

The IPCC report goes on to state, “Traditional large appliances, such as refrigerators and washing machines, are still responsible for most household electricity consumption…albeit with a falling share related to the equipment for information technology and communications (including home entertainment) accounting in most countries for 20 % or more of residential electricity consumption.”

For this reason, CROSQ is also undertaking a regional energy labelling scheme for appliances sold in the region. Though common in European countries, they are not standard practice throughout the Caribbean. The scheme, said Janice Hilaire, project coordinator for the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Project (R3E), is being funded by the German government.

“We also want to develop standards for PVC panels and water heaters,” she added.

Hilaire said the R3E would be training people to carry out the testing for this scheme at select labs in the region that has a limited amount of equipment for carrying out the tests.

“We are setting up an intense information and awareness campaign because we want to bring about a change in behaviour. We want householders to understand why they must adopt certain practices. We also want to bring about a more efficient use of energy.in the region which will positively affect GDP. The REEBC cannot operate in a vacuum. It must be complemented by other initiatives,” she said.

The REEBC and the associated R3E are in their early stages, St. Prix pointed out. As these projects are rolled out, CROSQ will begin collecting data that shows the actual dollar savings the region enjoys through these initiatives. The CROSQ team will then be able “to go to our policy makers and say, if you make this mandatory you will be saving this amount.” Member states would be urged to put legal mechanisms in place, St. Prix said.

 

(This article was originally published by the Inter Press Service News Agency)

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The Caribbean Agricultural Health and Food Safety Agency (CAHFSA) has been monitoring the issue relating to the sale of unwholesome meat and meat products originating from Brazil. 

Several Member States have already instituted measures to restrict the importation of some or all meat products from Brazil. It is noted that China, the European Union, and Chile have also instituted restrictive measures. 

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has redoubled its food inspection efforts on beef products from Brazil although none of the slaughtering or processing facilities implicated in the Brazilian scandal shipped meat products to the U.S. The Department said it is still conducting "additional pathogen testing” of all shipments of raw beef and ready-to-eat products from Brazil.

CAHFSA is endeavoring to obtain more information as it relates to the specific plants and products involved and will disseminate same as soon as possible. 

We are kindly requesting Member States that are conducting tests of the various products, to share the results with the other Chief Veterinary Officers (CVOs)/Member States who may not be in a position to complete the testing protocols.  This is in an effort to assist in the decision-making process regarding the continuance of the measures that would have been taken. 

 

We would also like to advise that Members of the Community to take the necessary measures to protect the well-being of their population, until necessary determinations have been made that the products are safe for consumption.  This may entail a comprehensive review of the operations/production systems in Brazil in general and the specific companies in particular. Thus, the requirement of a Regional Risk Analysis.

(Statement from the Caribbean Agricultural Health and Food Safety Agency - CAHFSA)

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Energy security and the efficiency of use of energy in the buildings of CARICOM is the focus of a three-day workshop in Grenada from July 13-15, 2016.

The regional workshop on Energy Efficiency Standards and Regulations brought together over 40 experts from the 15 Member States of CARICOM to examine two key objectives: the establishment of benchmarks for the energy performance of buildings in the form of agreed Minimum Energy Performance Standards (MEPs), and the provision of a firm basis for the development of a Regional Energy Efficiency Building Code (REEBC).

CEO of the CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality (CROSQ), Mr. Deryck Omar remarked that the organisation’s directive to develop energy efficiency standards for appliances and buildings was one handed down by the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) in 2013. Such a directive was embraced by CROSQ which committed to the development of the REEBC.

“We also recognise the importance of development of standards for energy efficiency and renewable energy as it enables us as a region to meet our obligations under international agreements, meeting millennium goals and reducing carbon foot print; as well as relieving pressure on our governments as it relates economic transformation, providing for energy independence and security.

 “To guarantee success of fulfilling the directive it is both necessary and important for CROSQ to partner and explore synergies with other organisations with similar goals,” said the CEO at the opening ceremony of the workshop.

CROSQ is partnering in this initiative with agencies and projects, including the GIZ-funded Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Technical Assistance Programme (REETA), the CARICOM Energy Unit, and the Caribbean Development Bank, alongside hosts of the workshop, the Grenada Bureau of Standards.

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