Shalenie Madho: A Passion for Change

CFAN advisor Shalenie Madho is helping to empower communities and improve livelihoods in Jamaica.

Shalenie Madho’s journey in climate advocacy is a tale woven with passion, mentorship, and leadership, each stage marked by a profound dedication to creating a sustainable future in the Caribbean.

Raised in Trinidad, Madho’s environmental consciousness was sparked early by her father, an avid environmentalist who instilled in her a deep respect for nature’s delicate balance. “I was inspired by my father, an environmentalist at heart, who taught me that our actions today shape our environment tomorrow. It’s this lesson that propels me forward every day in my career,” she reflects.

Madho’s professional pathway was significantly shaped by her participation in the Women in Renewable Energy (WIRE) network, an RMI initiative that empowers women in the energy sector. WIRE is a professional development group for women working in energy in islands nations. Shalenie is an alumna of WIRE participating in mentorship, peer-to-peer learning, and capacity development. It is also where she met CFAN Caribbean Regional Manager Nnyeka Prescod.

“WIRE was more than a network, it was a sisterhood… having a supportive community is crucial for women in male-dominated fields. It can provide them with the confidence and support they need to succeed in their careers. Wire was able to provide me with this community, which helped me gain confidence and succeed in my career,” she shares. “WIRE was able to provide me with this community, which helped me gain confidence and succeed in my career and until this day, these women are still remotely assisting me in projects with their varying expertise. ” This program not only provided her with crucial connections and a supportive community but also bolstered her confidence and solidified her commitment to advocating for gender equity in climate action.

WIRE was more than a network, it was a sisterhood….which helped me gain confidence and succeed in my career.

Unlocking climate finance in Jamaica

Madho is now a Climate Finance Access Network (CFAN) advisor in Jamaica, focusing on unlocking climate finance access in this Caribbean island nation. CFAN, designed and coordinated by RMI, builds capacity in developing countries to better access climate finance by embedding highly training climate finance advisors. Madho is one of eight advisors as part of the first Caribbean CFAN advisors. Her work with the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF) has been pivotal, enabling her to engage effectively with local stakeholders to facilitate impactful projects.

Madho has been actively involved in a series of pivotal projects across Jamaica, focusing her expertise primarily on the water, energy, and agriculture sectors with an emphasis on climate-vulnerable and underserved communities. Her efforts are aimed at developing agricultural systems that are not only sustainable but also robust enough to withstand the harsh realities of climate change. By fostering climate-resilient agriculture, she is helping to secure food sources and livelihoods against unpredictable environmental shifts while increasing water supply and storages, reducing poverty and encouraging entrepreneurship.

Enhancing resilient infrastructure

In addition to her work in agriculture, Madho is playing a crucial role in enhancing the infrastructure of local schools and health facilities. Recognizing the severe impacts of climate-related events like flooding and drought, which can disrupt essential services, she has spearheaded initiatives to fortify these critical structures. Her projects aim to ensure that educational and healthcare services remain uninterrupted, even in the face of climatic adversities. By upgrading these facilities, Madho is not only addressing immediate infrastructural needs and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, but also contributing to the long-term resilience of the community, ensuring that they are better prepared to handle the challenges posed by climate change.

“It’s disheartening to see essential services like electricity and water unmet due to funding shortfalls,” Madho shares. “Witnessing these tough living conditions drives me to develop initiatives that support diverse livelihoods — farmers, fishermen, teachers, engineers — ensuring everyone benefits regardless of their profession.”

A vison for the future

Looking to the future, Madho is ambitious about the potential of CFAN to expand its impact across the Caribbean. Her vision is bold and inclusive:

“Climate Finance is a staple in addressing climate change and its access is crucial for Small Island Developing States (SIDS) like Jamaica. Successful access to funds and climate-resilient development acceleration will require a collaborative effort from Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) with utmost priority. I hope that through CFAN, Jamaica will have multiple avenues of expedited support for addressing their climate agenda while strengthening its MDAs collaboration. I hope that I’ve set the baseline for those who come after me to be able to follow in the same footsteps and have the same and even more enthusiasm. Enthusiasm is important, especially if you’re excited about making a difference; with this, you will find a way to get things done for present and future generations. I hope that my role encourages girls and young women to pursue careers in STEM and climate change and do so with confidence and advocacy.  Everyone can make a change and make a difference in Jamaica by leading; it’s not just the Government’s responsibility to address climate vulnerability, impacts and mitigation, but also the people. I hope that people can see that with support and access to information, this one person can write a concept note, write a grant proposal, and access funds, and that’s what it takes.” In her role, Madho not only addresses immediate climate risks but also works to empower communities, fostering a regional network of knowledge and support.

Building capacity in the Caribbean is crucial for fostering sustainable development and climate resilience. Programs like WIRE and CFAN exemplify the transformative power of such initiatives. WIRE has been instrumental in empowering women in the energy sector, providing them with the tools, knowledge, and network necessary to navigate and lead in this challenging field. Similarly, CFAN plays a vital role in enhancing regional capabilities to address and manage climate risks effectively. “These programs are not just about individual projects,” Madho explains, “they are about building a foundation of knowledge and expertise that can ripple out to effect change across the entire region.”

These programs are not just about individual projects. They are about building a foundation of knowledge and expertise that can ripple out to effect change across the entire region.

Through such capacity-building efforts, the Caribbean is better equipped to develop local solutions that are both innovative and appropriate to their specific contexts. These programs ensure that the region is not just reacting to climate challenges but is actively shaping a resilient future through educated leadership and informed decision-making. CFAN’s climate finance training fully illuminates the climatic impacts on the different sectors, how to address the financial situation, and how to go about accessing climate finance. Madho says, “This on-going training has been creating a roadmap to better equip me into being an effective CFAN Advisor.”

Madho’s story is one of inspiration and leadership, demonstrating the powerful impact of dedicated individuals in the global fight against climate change. Her journey from Trinidad to the forefront of climate finance in Jamaica illustrates not only her personal achievements but also her broader aspirations to foster enduring change through collective action and empowered communities.