Another Dimension of Inclusiveness and Equality: Reducing the Vicious Cycle of Hatred against LGBTQ PeopleRead Now
This Blog is presented with the kind permission of Richard Burzynski and Chrissy Dideriksen co-editors of Equal Eyes (October 15, 2019). This edition of Equal Eyes draws on the discussions and outcomes of the UN Summit on The Sustainable Development Goals (September 30, 2019). It highlights the public discourse against the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, their heightening exclusion and marginalization. It identifies recommendations about overcoming the vicious cycle of hatred, fear and loathing. ( See website: https://equal-eyes.org).
“Political campaigns, parliamentary debates and public demonstrations reveal social prejudice and misconceptions about the nature and moral character of LGBT people,” said Victor Madrigal-Borloz, the UN’s Independent Expert in the latest report on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity(SOGI) presented to the UN General Assembly (October 24,2019) presenting a report.
The Report focuses on the social, cultural and economic inclusion of LGBT individuals. It builds on the understanding that “an inclusive society enables people to enjoy protection from violence and discrimination, and leaders in the social, cultural, political and other fields can have an important role in communicating, motivating and fostering that inclusiveness.”
Findings relate to key areas of concern for the life of every person: education, employment, housing, health, public spaces, religious and political discourse. They address the topic of intersectionality, to underscore that any analysis of the causes and consequences of discrimination must consider multiple characteristics of a person’s lived experience, such as age, gender, disability, socioeconomic, migratory and citizenship status. The list of identities addressed in the report is non-exhaustive, but it will hopefully allow some of these lived experiences to be made visible and, therefore, addressable. At last, the report discusses dynamics of inclusion and presents conclusions and recommendations for moving forward.
Discriminatory laws and socio-cultural norms continue to marginalize and exclude lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and gender diverse persons from education, health care, housing, employment and occupation, and other sectors. The marginalization and peripheralization are part of a vicious cycle that give rise to a host of other problems; in a context where access to economic, social and cultural rights is hampered, a series of negative impacts on individuals, their families, groups and communities can be observed, resulting in poverty and exclusion, lower socioeconomic status, and limiting access to assets that are essential to enjoy the full range of human rights. The excluding environment inevitably lends themselves to violence and discrimination, as it hampers access to their rights, creates inequality of opportunity and access to resources.
A joint statement released by 12 UN entities in 2015 expressed concern about these issues:
(a) Children face bullying, discrimination or expulsion from schools on the basis of their actual or perceived SOGI, or that of their parents.
(b) Discrimination and violence contribute to the marginalization of LGBTI people and their vulnerability to ill health including HIV infection, yet they face denial of care, discriminatory attitudes and pathologization in medical and other settings.
(c) The exclusion of LGBTI people from the design, implementation and monitoring of laws and policies that affect them perpetuates their social and economic marginalization.
Some important steps are already being taken at the international, regional and national levels to address these issues. For example, UNESCO convened an international consultation on homophobic bullying in educational institutions in 2011, bringing together education ministries, UN agencies, NGOs and academia from more than 25 countries around the world. The World Bank is managing a project aimed at filling the LGBT data gap, focused on inclusion in markets, services, and other spaces. UNDP is leading and partnering in the development of the LGBTI Inclusion Index, which will measure inclusion of LGBTI people in health, civic and political participation, personal safety and security, education, and economic empowerment. Together with the World Bank, civil society, governments and academics UNDP has developed a proposed set of 51 indicators for the LGBTI Inclusion Index, aligned with the framework of the SDG with a view to identifying who is “left behind” and why. Trade unions and employers’ organizations have worked to promote the meaningful inclusion of LGBT people in the workplace, and around 240 businesses have expressed support to the Standards of Conduct for Business in tackling discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. States have passed legislation explicitly protecting LGBT people from discrimination in housing and access to social security.
A glance at these issues quickly affirms the interdependence and inter-relatedness of all human rights. Addressing the social and economic rights of LGBT people is critical to any efforts to address violence and discrimination on the basis of SOGI. Under the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the international community committed to leaving no-one behind. In order to lift LGBT people from cycles of exclusion and abuse, we must critically examine these issues as well as emerging good practices. With my report I further seek to highlight the unique role of leaders in different fields, which will allow to break the cycle of exclusion and which can have a positive impact on misconceptions, fears and prejudices that fuel violence and discrimination. “This vicious cycle of hatred against LGBT people is being fueled every day. It impacts on their social inclusion and hinders their access to healthcare, education, housing, employment, political participation, personal security and freedom from violence.” This view is substantiated by a variety of studies and report. See From the UN, Fear and Loathing
Conclusions and Recommendations
The UN Independent Expert concludes that inclusion is key to enable people to enjoy a life free from violence and discrimination. In order to break the cycle of exclusion, the Independent expert highlights effective State measures, including the unique role of leaders in different fields, which impact positively on the misconceptions, fears and prejudices. Urgent responses are required from States to:
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In September 2015, 192 countries signed on to the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with 17 Goals and 169 targets. The UN General Assembly 2019 endorsed the Political Declaration adopted by the Sustainable Development Goals Summit, held at its Headquarters in September. The Summit committed Member States to taking a myriad of actions to implement the 2030 Agenda, ranging from mobilizing adequate and well‑directed financing to investing in data and statistics for the Sustainable Development Goals. This spread of actions was fully ventilated at the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) in July 2019 under the theme "Empowering People and Ensuring Inclusiveness and Equality". Not only did It demonstrate the central role of SDG #10 “reduce inequality within and among countries" but also the pervasive 'inclusiveness and equality' across the 17 SDGs. See: https://sdg.iisd.org › news › global-goals-website-creates-target-level-icons
This week we outline the global principles and some applications of the SDGs. It is our intention to follow up in future blogs with examining the challenges and prospects for developing countries and regions, achieving inclusiveness and equality.
The background document prepared for the ECOSOC HLPF illustrated that (10) targets within SDG #10 cast a wide net to capture multiple drivers of inequality and to ensure that no group or individual is left behind. Four targets address inequality within countries across social, economic and political dimensions that aim to expand prosperity, inclusion, and social protection. Three targets aim to reduce inequality among countries with attention to cross-border flows of finance and people. Three other targets focus on the means of implementation and put forward concrete steps for attaining greater equality by directing resource flows toward those most in need. High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) 2019 Convened by ECOSOC
In addition, 60 targets across the SDGs – not including those in SDG #10 – are directly linked to reducing inequality. Equal or universal access for all to resources, services and opportunities is a recurring theme across the SDGs. For example, SDG #2 that aims at eliminating hunger calls for access to food, land and productive resources; SDG #3 on good health and well-being calls for universal access to reproductive health-care services and universal healthcare; and SDG #4 calls for equal access to quality pre-primary through tertiary education and other learning programmes. SDG #8 on decent work and economic growth directly addresses inequality by calling for stronger growth rates in least developed countries, increasing micro, small and medium enterprises, promoting migrant workers’ rights or calling for more government spending in social protection. The list also includes access to energy, infrastructure and transport. Above all achieving equality-oriented targets in other SDG Goals promises to directly affect progress toward the targets in SDG #10.
Since the adoption of the 2030 Agenda in 2015, the UN reports positive movement as measured by SDG #10 targets. In 64 per cent of the countries with data, the incomes of the poorest 40 per cent of the population grew faster than the national average. The global average cost of sending remittances has declined in recent years although rates are still more than double SDG targets.
And tariffs faced by small island developing States and least developed countries have been falling. This progress has been mixed across countries and regions.
Some groups including those in rural areas (e.g. family farmers), women, young people, people with disabilities, indigenous peoples and others have persistently clustered at the bottom of distributions. Real wage growth has constantly declined since 2015 and at the same time, a warming climate, demographic change, decent work deficits, political crises, technological change and conflict risk exacerbating inequalities. In these circumstances actions are toward equality in both opportunities and outcomes are necessary. Inequalities can become self-perpetuating across generations, thus hindering progress towards one of the central objectives of the 2030 Agenda – that of ‘leaving no one behind’. There is another important gap in between establishing indicators and informing inclusive policies. It revolves around tracking progress on discriminatory practices and income deprivations at the global, regional and national levels is limited.
A set of issues from the UN SDG Summit that can exacerbate such tendencies include rapidly changing technologies; climate related shocks, disasters and crises; the globalization of information, business, and social networks; the decreasing bargaining power of workers; conflicts and many other trends. "But they can also open up space for new alignments and forward-looking cooperation within and among countries. At the same time, not all groups will be equally affected by these trends, with those who are already marginalized having limited resources to withstand shocks and to capitalize on emerging opportunities, which could further deepen inequalities". SDG Summit
These are global trends. They indicate some of the major indicators that should engage the attention of countries nationally, sub-regionally and regionally. Listed here are some of the recurring suggestions from several sources some of which will be further explored in future blogs:
Human Capital Development
Growth and Development
Planning and Financing Development
Public Policy and Partnerships
Contending ideas among of policy makers , experts and practitioners sharing experiences around the world, and at the more recent symposia at the UN, the IMF and the World Bank, indicate that multilateralism and international cooperation are essential to overcoming the challenges facing SDG implementation. Strengthened fiscal capacity, improved tax systems, reoriented expenditure on projects with bigger development impact and combined tax incentives with bigger returns to countries, are all priorities. The clincher for me that aptly describes the challenges to inclusiveness and equality is represented in a statement by Amanda Khozi Mukwashi, CEO, Christian AID. At the CSO session "SDGs: Making it Happen" at the IMF -World Bank Annual meetings (2019) she said: “Many mothers need to make decisions on whether to spend the money they have on a sick child who is about to die or on the food for children that are starving and hungry”.
While awaiting the Report from the Caribbean Congress for Adolescent and Youth Health (CCAYH) which was the focus of the GOFAD blog last week (18-09-19), it is important to note that two events involving youth in Washington DC are worth highlighting. The first at the IMF-World Bank Annual meetings (October 14-19 ), involved Generation Z (born 1997-2012) The other focused on Millennials sponsored by Brookings Institution and the Millennial Action Program (22-09-19). The issues that formed the basis of discussions at these events are worth considering by Caribbean Youth in their quest for rebranding and transforming youth leadership.
“How Millennials think differently about Climate Change and Debt?” was the theme of the Brookings Institution event. It struck a chord especially since the debt issue, so important to the Caribbean, has hardly been mentioned in the conversations of Caribbean Youth Leaders. As in the case of Climate Change, unless urgent corrective action is taken, debt is likely to be a major burden to Millennials, GenZ and future generations. At the end of 2018 debt is above 60 percent of GDP in 12 Caribbean Countries. ( CBD annual report, 2018).
The National Debt and Future Prospects: Playing with Fire
At Brookings, based on extensive surveys, the National Debt in the US was deemed to be significant even though it did not rise to same level of urgency as climate change. Millennials associated the consequence of debt accumulation which is now US$23 Trillion as integrally linked to rising cost of education and high levels of student loan debt, as well as the sustainability of social security. These issues will tend to affect their economic prospects due among other things, to high debt service of student loans with effects on their standards of living. Recognition was given to the fact that the Generation X, preceding Millennials, experienced the Great Depression but were better able to cope with navigating difficult times. This was due to the nature of the economic recovery and the role of the state. Now, the national debt combined with inflation, slow growth, the rising cost of housing, unemployment and underemployment are compounding factors with adverse effects on readiness for retirement. And even more so in the opinion of one of the panelists “more of the pay checks of Millennials are going to service the growing national debt while the prospects of living a life of dignity in old age are being threatened”.
Despite these ominous trends, the public policy debate on debt does not get the traction that Climate Change does. For Millennials, the challenge is getting individuals engaged in issues for which the impact is many years in the future. For governments, the enormous debt is too big to tax their way out of it.
One of the major lessons to be drawn from the dialogue at Brookings is the need to make fiscal matters real by illustrating the personal consequences and engaging in financial literacy. It requires transparency in establishing the causes and effects and 'teeing up' the fiscal debate in the public sentiment to drive public policy. The Millennium Action Project (MAP) provides a useful model for taking action based on research and tracking public opinion.
Climate Crisis evokes a sense of urgency: Framing the Future is Essential
A Brookings Survey (2019), done as part of the Millennial Action Program (MAP) demonstrated that Millennials recognize that they are at the point of no return “as the first generation to see the effects of Climate Change and the last with a chance to do something about it”. Aware that Climate Change Science is saying “act now to protect the health of future generations”, MAP has developed a module which illustrates the options for framing Climate Action by efficacy i.e. investing in solving problems urgently. This includes recognizing the urgency in taking action with either (a) low efficacy that leads to negative outcomes and (b) high efficacy that leads to optimal outcomes.
The IMF-World Bank session (October 15), IMF inspired Generation Z: Finding its Voice was informative. It focused on a series of issues including adolescent health, rights to health, physical and mental and child marriage referred to by one of the speakers as "pedophilia". On climate change they blame Millennials for the poor state of the environment which they have left them.
GenZ is much more diverse than Millennials based on race and ethnicity. They are less religiously affiliated. Malala Yousafzai, Co-Founder of the Malala Fund, and Aya Mouallem, Women Deliver Young Leader, advocate, for bringing knowledge and passion and are eager to see social change now. They admit to a challenge to get decision-makers to take them seriously and to directly engage young people in the policies and programs that affect their lives. They have messages to world leaders on the power of meaningful youth engagement. They have examples and anecdotes that demonstrate this power.
Significant is the charge by Malala Yousafzai: “First, to young people: you don’t need to wait for someone in power to give you permission or even listen to you to be an activist. You can begin by educating yourself on issues, educating others and organizing in your community. Get some momentum and try to make advocates out of everyone you meet. As for political leaders, I would say that they should have noticed by now that this generation is ready to speak out, write, lead, march, vote on issues important to them. You can ignore us once or twice, but we’ll keep coming back. And when you are gone we’ll knock on the door of whoever comes next.”
Some Takeaways for Transformative Leaders
The voice for rebranding and transforming youth leadership that resonates beyond the Halls of the IMF and the World Bank is that of 18 year old Natasha Mwansa from Zambia. Her pedigree and the relevance of her message are fully illustrated in the video clip https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4xYh9Rk-P48
This blog is being written as the first Caribbean Congress on Adolescent and Youth Health (CCAYH) in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad and Tobago on 15 – 17 October 2019 is in session. The theme of the Congress is "Championing our wealth: promoting the health and well-being of adolescents and youth in the Caribbean." has according to the report attracted the participation of approximately 200 youth.
Ms. Terez Lord, CARICOM Youth Ambassador provided a fundamental challenge to the Congress in her remarks at the opening session as follows:
It is indeed a distinct honour to stand before you as CARICOM Youth Ambassador of Trinidad and Tobago on this incredible occasion to deliver these words—out of my mouth but pouring out of the hearts of young people- youths and adolescents of the entire region. Today we witness and we contribute towards history which is more than the path left by the past. It influences the present and it can shape the future. Today, history is being made as we inaugurate the first ever Caribbean Congress on Adolescent and Youth Health. This congress is a safe space, rich in dialogue, where international partners and practitioners can highlight and address issues/challenges circumventing good health and wellbeing of a major subset of the population and a critical human resource: the youth and adolescents. Not forgetting adolescents and youths with disabilities. It is a catalyst for policy makers to discuss how to improve as well as how to sustain investment in our health in a manner that is deliberate, impactful, measurable and sustainable.
This Congress, the first of its kind is for youth, by youth, with youth and supported by many agencies. It is bolstered by the momentum of or time. It is action- oriented and should have decisive follow up. This is not a talk-shop. We must set the basis for no less. Health and well-being is far and wide in reach and impact and must be met with ambitious, future-oriented, systemic regional responses.
When I think of regional responses, I think of the Caribbean Community— CARICOM. Collaboration. Camaraderie. Cohesion. Caribbean Integration. It makes meaningful and manifest the dream and ideology, or as my sister would say- the epiphany that birthed CARICOM when it was established in 1973 by the Treaty of Chaguaramus in Trinidad and Tobago .Today, this audacious, integrative move as integral to the sustainability development of our Region is so that future generations would have benefitted from what we as young leaders would have advocated for and for what we agitate. The young people are here in this room and beyond connected by the technology that allows us to web stream. They are present and ready. They are ignited by passion and purpose. We are ready to contribute to the conversations that impact our lives and that of generations to follow.
This landmark Congress is being held under the patronage of Mrs. Sharon Rowley, wife of the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago with the support of several partners including PAHO, UNFPA, PANCAP and the Spouses of Caribbean Leaders Action Network (SCLAN) We therefore await the outcomes of the Congress identified as “regional commitments", a "vision and core principles" to address the health needs of adolescents and youth, empowering champions and developing "action plans" based on current and emerging priorities. This event promises to lead to a rebranding of Youth affairs in the Caribbean, a phrase is actually borrowed from the vision of the Hon Deyalsingh that Trinidad and Tobago is rebranding its approach to mental health.
Rebranding here is applied to the broader range of issues at the CCAYH and should be closely aligned to recent international events especially that occurred during the UN General Assembly (UNGA) in September. To set the context for a follow up reflections next week, I have provided a sample of programmes and policies at the global level , referred to by many of the speakers at the opening ceremony. These provide useful lessons.
Some Lessons to be Learned from Recent International Engagements
The four illustrations are by no means exhaustive but provide some useful signposts for action.
1. UNGA 's first Summit on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) since they were adopted in 2016 . The political declaration, entitled, “Gearing up for a decade of action and delivery for sustainable development,” proclaimed: “We stand firm in our determination to implement the 2030 Agenda as a plan of action for people, planet, prosperity, peace, and partnership – a plan to free humanity from the tyranny of poverty and heal and secure our planet for future generations.” Many of the speakers especially H.E Paula-Mae Weekes the President and the Hon Terrence Deyalsingh, underscored the importance of SGD# 3 on Health and wellness referring in particular to the need for the Congress to address NCDs, Mental Health, suicide among young people and violence against women and girls.
2. UN General Assembly Political Declaration themed “Universal Health Coverage: Moving Together to Build a Healthier World” This was highlighted in the address by Dr. Carissa Etienne, PAHO Director who highlighted its aims as striving toward significant achievements over the next decade by (a) tackling communicable diseases, including HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, while addressing non-communicable disease and the growing threat of antimicrobial resistance through robust and resilient primary healthcare systems; (b) ensuring universal access to sexual and reproductive health-care services and reproductive rights; (c) protecting the wellbeing and dignity of women and girls; (d) changing the financing paradigm by stepping up the pace of investment towards UHC; and (e) the importance of bold leadership.
3. HIV, Health, and Wellness: The Lancet HIV published a first of its kind review and meta-analysis that found that HIV continues to disproportionately affect gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men throughout Africa. The authors evaluated 75 independent studies conducted across 28 countries. They found that HIV awareness, ART coverage, and viral suppression remain too low to reach UNAIDS 90-90-90 targets by 2020. Additionally, levels of testing were significantly lower in countries with severe anti-LGBT legislation compared to other countries.
3. Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescents’ Health https://www.who.int/life-course/partners/global-strategy/en. Foremost among the leadership of this strategy is UNFPA whose Regional Director, Ms. Alyson Drayton amplified how sexual and reproductive health and rights are highlighted in the global programme of the organization. The Chair of SCLAN , Mrs. Kim Simplis Barrow also underscored the emphasis that CARICOM First Ladies place on these issues and in particular on engaging men and boys in reducing violence against women and girls.
4. The Lancet journal published HIV, Health, and Wellness is a first of its kind review and meta-analysis that found that HIV continues to disproportionately affect gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men throughout Africa. This general conclusion may equally apply to the Caribbean as a whole. The authors evaluated 75 independent studies conducted across 28 countries. They found that HIV awareness, ART coverage, and viral suppression remain too low to reach UNAIDS 90-90-90 targets by 2020. Additionally, levels of testing were significantly lower in countries with severe anti-LGBT legislation
Making Rebranding a Reality: The Health and Youth of the Region are the Wealth of the Region
While this is intended theme of the follow up blog next week, It is significant that this conclusion is influenced by an event at the Annual IMF- World Bank Meeting in Washington yesterday (October 15) IMF inspired Generation Z: Finding its Voice . The leading voice at that session was Natasha Wang Mwansa an 18 year old dynamo from Zambia. Her pedigree is fully illustrated in a video clip under the issues and videos section on the GOFAD website. It stimulated me to reflect on the aspirational goal advocated by Ambassador Irwin Larocque who gave the keynote address at CCAYH. He called for amending the 2000 Nassau Declaration of CARICOM Heads of Government from "the Health of the Region is the Wealth of the Region" to that of "the Health and Youth of the Region are the Wealth of the Region". I could not help thinking about a fitting way to mark the 10th anniversary of the presentation to CARICOM Heads of Government in Suriname in January 2010, the seminal Report of The CARICOM Commission of Youth Development , The Eye on the Future: Investing in Youth Now for Tomorrows Community. The Commission was co-chaired by Hon Yldiz Pollock Beighle , now Foreign Minister Suriname, and a former CARICOM Youth Ambassador with the late Professor Barry Chevannes. I therefore pose the questions: How about making this 10th anniversary celebration in January/February 2020 an exercise in visioning the rebranding of Youth leadership at the CARICOM (perhaps at CARICOM's intercessional meeting of Heads of Government)? . How about aligning its mission around the theme : The Health and Youth of the Region are the Wealth of the Region.
Formulating a Pan Caribbean Partnership for Climate Action: An exercise in Functional Cooperation - Why Not ?Read Now
“The Caribbean experience makes abundantly clear that we must urgently reduce global emissions and work collectively to ensure that global temperature rise does not go beyond 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels ... cut greenhouse emissions by 45 per cent by 2030 and get to carbon neutrality by 2050.” [Antonio Gutteres UN Secretary General at the 40th Regular meeting of CARICOM Heads of Government in St Lucia July 2019]
Setting the Scene
The UN Secretary General's message became even more potent in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian that literally devastated Abaco and Grand Bahama Islands in The Bahamas. It was reinforced at the UN Climate Action Summit with its refrain that Climate Change poses an existential threat to many Small Island Developing States and Least Developed Countries and undermines sustainable development prospects for most. However, nowhere were these issues more dramatically illustrated as in the presentation to the UN Summit by Prime Minister Mia Mottley on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS). This presentation carried in last week's blog post, highlighted the need to:
Making the Case for a Pan Caribbean Partnership
These takeaways apply as much to advocacy for the AOSIS objectives within the global arena as to a Pan Caribbean Partnership for Climate Action. Previous instalments preceding this blog show that: the building blocks for a Pan Caribbean Partnership are already in place; Caribbean countries are among the most climate-vulnerable countries; their climate scientists led by researchers at UWI are in the forefront of developing science-based strategies for climate adaptation and mitigation through their participation in the IPCCC processes; they lack access to climate finance; and their interests are not fully represented at the international level. Hence, involvement in global cross cutting-multifaceted initiatives such as climate impacts research can strengthen the connections between the scientific assessments of climate change, vulnerability and adaptation, enable access to finance and help implement concrete projects.
The Vision and Mission
The Blog Innovation and Climate Resilience (9-19-19) established the building blocks for a Climate Action Partnership. It identified leading actors, institutions and priorities. It highlighted the vision and mission of the Partnership as defined by the Three (3) Ones Principle, One Regional Plan, One Coordinating Unit and One M&E implementation instrument. This principle provides the guidelines of a plan proposed by the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (5Cs) and endorsed by the CARICOM Heads of Government. See Delivering transformational change 2011-21: Implementing the CARICOM `Regional Framework for Achieving Development Resilient to Climate Change`
Using the Regional Framework as a backdrop, we are proposing an outline for consideration. It hinges on four (4) pillars: (i) Knowledge for Climate Action; (ii) Clusters for Climate Resilience; (iii) Institutional Strengthening for Climate Adaptation and Mitigation; (iv) and Sustainable Financing for Climate Change
Knowledge for Climate Action
This pillar comprises four (4) components:
Clusters for building Climate Resilience
This is intended to pursue the aspirational goal of making the Caribbean the first Climate resilient region in the World. It involves developing regional and interregional partnerships to facilitate:
Institutional Strengthening for Climate Change Responses
This requires establishing clusters for climate action to foster the multidisplinary and multisectoral whole of government approaches with designated focal points:
Sustainable Financing for Climate Change
This should be based on the development of a Regional Climate Action Plan. Access to finance remains one of the most important barriers to climate action. Going forward, financial instruments and innovative financing mechanisms must be leveraged to mobilize adequate climate finance. An enabling environment for private sector engagement and public-private collaborations must also be further enhanced to ensure the required pace and scale of Nationally Determined Conditions (NDC) for climate action. These require strong advocacy, political will and global solidarity:
These are preliminary thoughts on the movement toward a Pan Caribbean Partnership for Climate Action. Is it necessary? Is it cost effective? Is there the climate leadership for this approach ? -- Why Not?
Barbados Prime Minister, The Honorable Mia Mottley Advocates on Behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) at the UN Climate Action SummitRead Now
Three (3) consecutive weeks of discussion via the GOFAD Blogs followed the Devastation in The Bahamas by Hurricane Dorian. They triggered perspectives on achieving climate resilience through innovative approaches, regional partnerships and global solidarity. It has been suggested that for the Caribbean, building blocks are in place through strategic plans and programmes led by CARICOM institutions like Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (5cs), the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) and the University of the West Indies (UWI). There are illustrations too, of the leadership roles of the Caribbean in shaping global policy such as the Paris Agreement (2016) and most recently, the Report of the Global Commission on Adaptation (September 2019).
This week , we present, especially for those who have not seen/heard it, Barbados Prime Minister The Hon Mia Mottley's constructively passionate advocacy on behalf of the 44 member Alliance of Small Island Development States (AOSIS) at the UN Climate Action Summit. Prime Minister Mottley was emphatic about the important voice of the AOSIS which comprises 20 percent of the membership of the UN. The question is: does the case presented for AOSIS override the proposal for a Pan Caribbean Climate Action Partnership? Your ideas are appreciated.
United Nations Secretary-General’s Climate Action Summit - Prime Minister Mia Mottley's Remarks https://youtu.be/Y0aUaXWGnsg via
The UN Climate Action Summit (September 23) and follow up discussions at the UN General Assembly and the media are attracting worldwide attention. UN Secretary-General António Guterres requested leaders from government, business and civil society to come up with plans to address the global climate emergency. Chief among them was to increase their commitments to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement (2015) “to work toward reducing emissions by at least 45% by 2030 and to essentially zero by mid-century". In the intervening period, there. has been a hive of activities that goad the Caribbean Region to consolidate its climate advocacy and action. The outcomes from each of these activities combine as a clarion call to accelerate the response to Climate adaption and resilience with regional partnerships and global solidarity as imperatives.
First , The Youth Climate Summit was an historic event on the weekend leading up to the UN Secretary-General’s Climate Action Summit. It was complemented by the Youth Climate Strikes in major cities throughout the world. At the centre of these platforms was 16 year old Greta Thunberg from Sweden whose stirring address to the UN Summit resonated among all stakeholders, including entrepreneurs and change-makers mindful of protecting our planet. Ms. Thumberg demanded swift action to fight climate change and chided leaders for yielding few commitments for environmental overhaul. See her emotional speech: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=43q15ncwzWo
Second was the launching of the European Union funded/Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (5Cs) Project, Enhancing Climate Resilience in CARIFORUM Countries that took place in Barbados. Its aim is to establish a Global Water Partnership with Caribbean organizations forming a focal point. This is the latest in a series of programmes pioneered by 5Cs which include an Electric School Bus Pilot and a grid -interactive Solar PV System for Schools and Health Clinics in Antigua and Barbuda; Transitioning to National Energy Security : Bartica as a Model Green Town in Guyana; Implementing a Solar Electricity System for a Low Income Residential Development in Ouanaminthe in Haiti ; Solar Carport and Electric Vehicle Charging Station in St Lucia; and a Salt Water Reverse Osmosis system (SWRO) Destalinization powered by Photo Voltaic (PV) Renewable Energy System in St Vincent and the Grenadines.
Third is the article in Forbes Magazine reporting that of the top thirty global polluters per capita, ten are from the Caribbean region. These are Trinidad & Tobago, Antigua & Barbuda, St. Kitts & Nevis, Guyana, Barbados, St. Lucia, Bahamas, Grenada, Anguilla and Aruba. It was revealed that every year, these ten island nations generate more plastic debris than the weight of 20,000 space shuttles. There is no doubt need for waste management and waste infrastructure, such as garbage collection, recycling centres and secure landfills to be improved. However, it was refreshing to note the balanced conclusion arrived at by the author that is important to arguments for climate justice: "It is too simplistic to make global comparisons based on absolute numbers. Ranking total plastic waste production per country masks global systems of inequality and overlooks the vulnerability of small, seemingly “insignificant” coastal communities. Rather than vilifying individual countries, we must deconstruct systems of inequality that perpetuate plastic pollution and increase vulnerability among select populations" https://www.forbes.com/sites/daphneewingchow/2019/09/20/caribbean-islands-are-the-biggest-plastic-polluters-per-capita-in-the-world/#182ebff3774b
Fourth, there was a most informative symposium Global Partnership for Climate Action Symposium co-sponsored by University of the West Indies and State University of New York (SUNY) at SUNY. It is a capstone for the Caribbean response to the three types of activities above. GOFAD could only inadequately summarize the robust discussions by highlighting the following takeaways:
After listening to the absorbing panel discussions at the UWI-SUNY symposium I wrote the following note to my colleagues "I feel even more justified in promoting the dream of a Caribbean Pan Caribbean Partnership for Climate Action".
Innovation and Climate Resilience in the Caribbean. Is a Pan Caribbean Climate Action Partnership the answer?Read Now
In our Blog last week (September 9), we provided a sketch of the building blocks for climate resilience with special reference to the Caribbean. These building blocks it was suggested, revolved around (a) proposals for implementing the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre Strategic Plan 2011-2021, (b) tapping the expertise in climate science at UWI and other institutions of higher education and research (c) scaling up the prominence of CARICOM's leadership in the Small Island Development States Climate agenda and (d) advocating for the delivery of global commitments such as the Paris Agreement, the UN and Multilateral agencies.
Consolidating the Building Blocks at the Regional level
It is important to note that the building blocks are consolidated in response to a mandate from CARICOM Heads of Government for the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (5Cs) to:
Country initiatives as potential models for regional
From among the multitude of programmes, being undertaken by CARICOM Countries, the following indicate a sample of initiatives:
The Need for Community Engagement
In a very informative blog, "A call to Arms" - (September 10) , Winsome Leslie advised that lessons could be learned from community education programmes used in the islands of the South Pacific. She also recommends microfinancing institutions to expand a suite of products to include green loans to finance energy efficient solar projects to help the Caribbean to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels. See A Call to Arms -Time to Mobilize at the Local Level for Climate Resilience https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/call-arms-time-mobilize-local-level-climate-winsome-leslie
How will the Caribbean Proceed
It is clear from the building blocks, their consolidation in regional initiatives, the multitude of country programmes and the suggestion for community engagement, that
CARICOM Countries are fully aware of the challenges and the solutions related to climate resilience. A major problem reflected in the deleterious consequences of climate change is illustrated most recently in the fury of Hurricanes Irma and Maria (2017) and Dorian (2019). These were mainly due to circumstances not created by the Caribbean and over which it has little control. The architecture for a Caribbean response rests in the underlying vision set out in the Strategic Plan for Climate Change in the Caribbean 2011-2021 by the 5Cs. It recommends pursuing the "three one's" principle: one coordinating unit, one strategic plan and one monitoring and evaluation system. It is a policy that was successfully implemented by the Pan Caribbean Partnership for HIV in the Caribbean with very positive results. It requires a concerted effort for synchronizing policies, rationalizing programmes across sectors and institutions and sourcing funds. While GOFAD has some thoughts about the architecture for such a Pan Caribbean Climate Change Partnership, it is important to first engage the focal points for Climate Change, the CARICOM institutions - 5Cs and CDEMA and UWI. We will return to this issue of "functional cooperation and Climate action in the region.
What will this Cost?
A major question, how much will functional cooperation climate action cost is beyond the scope of this blog. The Caribbean countries and institutions are aware of funding options. Indeed, they have sourced support from the Global Environmental Facility (GEF); the Canadian Climate Change Development Fund; The Commonwealth Climate Finance Hub (2016) to support climate adaptation and mitigation; the Caribbean Climate Smart Accelerator (2018) in response to making the Caribbean the first climate smart zone, and the Regional Climate Resilient Building Facility (2019) to provide technical assistance and disaster insurance support.
The Global Commission on Adaptation (GCA) issued a report (September 10). The Commission led by former UN Secretary General Ban KI moon and including Dr. The Hon Keith Mitchel, Prime Minister of Grenada calls for global leadership on climate resilience. It finds that adaptation can lead to significant economic returns and that investing USD1.8 trillion globally from 2020 to 2030 in five climate adaptation areas could result in USD 7.1 trillion in net benefits. It identifies the five areas: early warning systems, climate-resilient infrastructure, improved dryland agriculture, mangrove protection and investments in increasing water resource resilience. It states that these represent only a portion of total investments needed and total benefits available. The Caribbean environmental and development scientists need to come up with a cost -benefit projection for achieving climate resilience in accordance to the 5Cs strategic plan
Filling the gaps for an effective architecture for a Pan Caribbean Climate Change Partnership and for sustainable funding in support of Climate resilience is a work in progress. Successful outcomes however can be achieved with political will and a commitment to unravelling the impediments to functional cooperation. This requires innovation that is transformative. In the final analysis, global solidarity is the main solution to this global problem.
The Bahamas tragedy following the devastating effects of Hurricane Dorian has brought into stark reality the unrelenting havoc that natural disasters have reeked on the Caribbean Region in recent years. The Special Report on Climate Change and Land ( SRCCL) from a meeting of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) comprising leading international experts held in Geneva, July 2019, is very informative https://www.ipcc.ch/report/srccl/.reemphasizes. It identifies the major reasons for the devastating impact that global warming is having on the Caribbean. Among them are coastal erosion resulting from sea level rise and tropical hurricanes, which greatly threatens lives and livelihoods in the region and degradation of ecosystems, both marine and land. They both harm industries on which we rely, such as fishing and farming, not to mention tourism. Overall, the Caribbean is particularly vulnerable to greater health, environmental and economic challenges because of these climate and land changes.
Before actually venturing to establish innovative approaches to climate action in the Caribbean, there is need to identify important building blocks. The Special Report on Climate Change and Land, the second of three Reports from the IPCC is based on scientific studies and empirical outcomes. The First, Global Warming of 1.5° C was issued in September 2018. The third is on Ocean and Cryosphere in a changing Climate, which is expected to be released later this month. Of importance to the Caribbean is the active engagement of UWI academics among others in the work of this high level international Panel. In addition, at the UN High-Level Political Forum 2019 (HLPF) on Sustainable Development, where UWI co-hosted a symposium, Research and Innovation 4 Climate Action, which showcased research initiatives of members of the Global University Consortium on SDG #13 and highlighted the synergies between SDGs #4, #13 and #17. Also, in July 2019, UWI hosted the first-ever meeting of Universities across the Commonwealth to collaborate on climate challenges and resilience in their countries involving representatives from approximately 500 institutions in 50 countries. UWI's efforts to aid in developing a culture of resilience and planning in the Caribbean are adequately reflected in its Triple A Strategy (Strategic Plan 2017–2022).
Major Illustrations of Functional Cooperation in Migration and Adaptation
provide lessons for Resilience
These more recent contributions to the Climate Change debate are built on the foundations of earlier regional initiatives. Chief among these is the landmark Global Small Island Developing States (SIDS) Conference held in Barbados in 1994. It resolved to give priority treatment to the issue of climate change based on its potential to severely disrupt the development efforts of Small Island Development States (SIDS) and the low lying coastal states. It included the Caribbean Planning for Adaptation to Climate Change (CPACC) project, funded by the Global Environmental Facility (GEF); Adapting to Climate Change in the Caribbean (ACCC) project, funded by Canadian Climate Change Development Fund 2001-2003 and Mainstreaming Adaptation to Climate Change project also funded by GEF 2004-2007. These projects led to the establishment of a CARICOM wide network of monitoring stations; development of regional capacity for coral reef monitoring; vulnerability assessments; economic valuation of environmental services; the articulation of national climate change adaptation policies and implementation plans, and increased public awareness of climate change issues in the Region.
Consolidating the Regional Response: The Caribbean Community Centre for
Climate Change as a catalyst
Notwithstanding the projects’ successes, it was clear that a more permanent strategy was needed to respond to the effects of Climate Change in the Caribbean. The vision and mission of the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (5Cs), together with those of complementary institutions and programmatic priorities have evolved as critical factors of a Climate Action Strategy Established in 2006 as a CARICOM Institution, the 5Cs under the leadership Dr Ken Leslie its CEO, provided the basis for a more coherent accelerated regional response. This is fully illustrated in the Caribbean Strategic Plan of Climate Change 2009-2021, formulated by the new leadership supported by the CARICOM Task Force for Climate Change in 2008. It identified a vision around the Three Ones Principle - One Coordinating Mechanism, One Consolidated Plan and One Monitoring and Evaluation Framework. Its mission based on 5 implementable pillars emerging from the 2009 Lilliandaal (Guyana) Declaration was approved by CARICOM Heads of Government in 2012. They include:
Complementary Institutional developments include:
Programmatic Priorities include:
Setting the Scene for innovations in Climate Action
We have sketched some of the issues leading up to the accelerated approach to climate action in the Caribbean. In so doing, we drew upon some leading international activities involving Caribbean experts; the pursuit of functional cooperation in mitigation and adaptation, consolidating the regional response through CARICOM institutions such as 5Cs and CDEMA; engaging complementary institutions; and focusing on programmatic priorities. These are the prerequisites for effective innovations. Averting another climatic catastrophy such as those experienced in The Bahamas is another matter.
As we write this blog, it is clear that Hurricane Dorian has created havoc in The Bahamas with consequences for the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) as a whole. Preliminary reports indicate that five people are confirmed to have died in the storm; storm surges of 12 to 18 feet (4-5 meters) above normal hit Grand Bahama Island and up to 13,000 homes have been destroyed or severely damaged. Prime Minister, Hubert Minnis, described the impact of the hurricane as a “historic tragedy in parts of our northern Bahamas’. For this, we at GOFAD join others in the CARICOM Region and around the world in expressions of sympathy and solidarity to the Prime Minister and the people of the Bahamas.
WATCH: Dorian batters the Bahamas, killing five
The frequency and severity of these catastrophic events are illustrations of the vulnerability of the Caribbean. Since 1950 approximately 300 natural disasters have hit the region, killed some 250,000 people and affected more than 24 million through injury, death, or loss of homes and livelihoods. According the World Development Report (2014), the Caribbean islands are among the 25 most-vulnerable nations in terms of disasters per-capita or land area, with their frequency and damages exceeding those for other small and larger states. An IMF study (2016) found seven Caribbean islands are at extreme or high risk of natural disasters, with vulnerability gauged by disaster frequency and impact. It shows that in many cases disaster damages exceed the size of the economy. This is borne out by more recent events. For Dominica, after the category 5 Hurricane Maria hit the region in September 2017, damages were estimated to be more than 200 percent of its GDP.
Consequences such as those resulting from natural disasters in The Bahamas and Dominica are part of a wider problem identified in the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) #13, which focuses on climate action that rolls out several targets. Greenhouse gas emissions are more than 50 percent higher than in 1990. As a result, global warming is contributing to the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events such as heat waves, droughts, floods and tropical cyclones. These in turn aggravate water management problems, reduce agricultural production and food security, increase health risks, damage critical infrastructure and interrupt the provision of basic services such as water, sanitation, education, energy and transport.
Managing Risks and Increasing Resilience
The two interrelated pillars for dealing with these challenges are managing risks and increasing resilience to adverse shocks. They combine to prepare for risk with the ability to cope afterward. They forestall climate-related disaster migration, which is a serious impediment to growth. They facilitate macroeconomic and development goals which allow countries to break-free from the vicious cycle of high debt and low growth prevalence. They reduce the massive reconstruction costs that take away scarce resources from social spending. Analysis shows that Dominica may have lost more than a decade of development, as measured by real GDP per capita, following Hurricane Maria in 2017.
Striving for Resilience
The aspirational goal enunciated by Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit to make Dominica the first climate resilient country in the World is a laudable one. It requires three complementary building blocks of effective risk management. These are:
These building blocks for sustainable resilience require international investments such as the Marshal Plan for the Caribbean proposed after Hurricane Maria, but which has not come to fruition. Upfront costs of resilient infrastructure are high. They are estimated to be around 25 percent higher than regular infrastructure. Resilient structures mitigate destruction and losses from natural disasters, but do not eliminate them. As a result, limited national fiscal buffers are major barriers. When compounded by limited flows of global funds for adaptation (UNEP 2016) and limited capacity constraints to meet complex access requirements for climate funds, they contribute setbacks to resilience, which is the Caribbean reality. But this need not be the case. Exploring innovative strategies will be the focus of our next blog.