UWI Experts talk Climate Change, Collaboration and Funding at UNFCCC COP 28

by January 16, 2024

The University of the West Indies’ Global Institute for Climate Smart and Resilient Development (GICSRD) led an important side event at the 2023 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference of the Parties (UNFCCC COP28), held from Nov 30 – Dec 13. The event, which targeted Caribbean delegates and attendees, highlighted the GISCRD’s work and promoted coordination and networking around climate action.

Hosting and presenting on behalf of the Institute, Ms. Neisha Manickchand, Project and Resource Mobilization Officer, GICSRD, said, “We [GICSRD] want to strengthen partnerships for a climate resilient zone in the Caribbean.” She reported on key initiatives, including a university-wide call for climate change and resilience projects which is yielding a rich database and has already facilitated connections between The UWI experts and local NGO actors. She also highlighted the UWIScholar platform which could be used to find experts at the UWI in various fields, including climate change.

The COP side event also featured insightful contributions from a panel of UWI experts, including Professor Dale Webber, Professor of Coastal Ecology and Environmental Management, The UWI; Dr. Jan Yves Remy, Director, The UWI Shridath Ramphal Centre for International Trade Law, Policy and Services; Professor Donovan Campbell, Professor of Environmental Geography, The UWI; and Professor Michelle Scobie, Professor of International Relations and Global Environmental Governance

Professor Dale Webber used the opportunity to give examples of the real-life valuable contributions of the Climate Studies Group Mona (CSGM) and the Centre for Marine Sciences (CMS). He highlighted the importance of funding and collaboration in harnessing the research capacities at The UWI. With IDB funding The UWI has increased computer modeling capacity in allowing downscaling in climate predictions about Jamaica and the Caribbean to inform water and agriculture decisions. According to Professor Webber, “The ability to move sweet potato crops growth areas from Eastern Jamaica to Western Jamaica has helped us adapt our agriculture to match our climate, increasing our climate resilience.”

Expanding the conversation on funding, Professor Donovan Campbell made an impassioned plea for much needed increases in science investments. “[Regarding] the vulnerabilities that are articulated for small islands, our scientists are providing the evidence basis to leverage funding [but] the investment in Caribbean science is nowhere near where it should be…we will make a big mistake if, when all these investments come in, none of it or an inadequate amount goes back into the science. If we are not investing in science as a public good, we will not progress as a region.”

Speaking in her capacity as the Director of the premier center for trade capacity building in the region, Dr Jan Yves Remy called for the social, economic and legal voices to emerge more prominently in the international sustainability debate. “We are finding that you cannot talk trade without talking about the sustainability agenda. Climate action should become the catalyzing voice to bring the sciences, as well as legal, economic and social issues together.”

Professor Michelle Scobie contributed to the panel discussion by providing her perspective on climate governance and advocating for climate justice. She noted, “If we address the why we have climate change, the investments for Small Island Developing States would be much greater because the sense of responsibility as to the cause would be understood.”

The GISCRD-led COP 28 side event closed with a lively engagement between the panel and attendees. The conversation spanned governance, partnerships and creative business models toward funding and resourcing for climate action. The Institute has expressed its gratitude to Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (5Cs) for the opportunity to present at the CARICOM Pavilion, and looking forward, it proposes a post-COP28 forum and series of Caribbean Climate Change engagements toward 2030.

The 28th session of the UNFCCC parties (COP28) hosted by the United Arab Emirates, welcomed delegates from over 200 countries gathered to reflect on progress of the Paris Agreement. COP28 was a transformational moment for the world to unite around tangible climate action and deliver realistic solutions through collaborations across civil society, governments, industries and sectors. The resulting UAE Consensus is an enhanced, balanced, and historic package to accelerate climate action.