How Can Haiti Really Commit to Battle Climate Change?

Haiti is strategically positioned to attract innovative energy and infrastructure projects that are in keeping with its commitment to battle climate change. We saw that commitment formalized last week when Haiti signed unto the historic United Nations (UN) Paris Climate Agreement with 174 other nations. The aims of the Agreement  is described in Article 2 of the same:

“(a) Holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels, recognizing that this would significantly reduce the risks and impacts of climate change;

(b) Increasing the ability to adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change and foster climate resilience and low greenhouse gas emissions development, in a manner that does not threaten food production;

(c) Making finance flows consistent with a pathway towards low greenhouse gas emissions and climate-resilient development.”

Last year, Haiti submitted (well ahead of the international climate agreement reached then) its new climate action plan to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in the form of a Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC).

Haiti’s lack of extensive infrastructure is an opportunity to build a system of roads, bridges, public transportation, and utilities that keep with its stated goals in its INDC. We hope that these unprecedented moves by Haiti and the international community translate into an innovation hub for the type of large scale projects that change the everyday lives of Haitian citizens.

Lovely Bonhomme Headshot-LG

 

Lovely is a first-year student at CUNY School of Law, which graduates public interest attorneys with the motto of practicing “law in the service of human needs”. She is a first generation American of Haitian descent. She has a particular interest in corporate law with a focus on infrastructure and energy projects in emerging markets and developing countries. More broadly, she hopes to contribute to the areas of international rule of law and human rights. 

Barriers to Business in Haiti

In a study completed by the World Bank in June 2015, Haiti has a new business density of 0.06. This translates to 383 new businesses created over the course of the year. Out of context, these figures mean very little. However, if we look to Haiti’s nearest neighbor, the Dominican Republic, we see that the Dominican Republic enjoys a new business density of 1.2 and 8,061 new businesses created. Why is this important? We know that entrepreneurship is one of the single biggest indicators of economic growth and power. And the intersection of new firm registration, the regulatory environment, and economic growth may lend credence to the voices that suggest there needs to be a focus not only on physical infrastructure, but also on legal, regulatory, and administrative infrastructures.

What stands in the way of new businesses that can create new jobs and spur the construction of physical infrastructure? Perhaps, one of the greatest and simplest areas of concern is the length of time to become formally incorporated. It takes an average of 97 days to register a new business in Haiti; seventy-eight of those days are simply to register the business with the Department of Commerce and receive an authorization of operations. The average time for new businesses to be operational in Latin America and the Caribbean is 29.4 days. In the Dominican Republic, the average time is 14.5 days. These comparisons are not an attempt to join the seemingly prevailing voices stating that Haiti cannot compete in or contribute to the world economy. These comparisons are made to bring attention to the areas (legal, regulatory, and administrative infrastructures), where innovation is needed to break the cycle of poverty in Haiti.

* This article was created using information from the wonderful World Bank Doing Business database. Any errors are my own.

 

 

Lovely Bonhomme Headshot-LG

 

Lovely  is a first-year student at CUNY School of Law, which graduates public interest attorneys with the motto of practicing “law in the service of human needs”. She is a first generation American of Haitian descent. She has a particular interest in corporate law with a focus on infrastructure and energy projects in emerging markets and developing countries. More broadly, she hopes to contribute to the areas of international rule of law and human rights.