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.
Although GOFAD has taken the month off from posting its weekly blogs , we felt it essential to honour the memory of one of the greatest writers of our time The Utube link truly reflects the impact of Toni Morrison: the Magician of Language
How are Parliamentarians handling their Roles as Advocates for Human Rights, Equality and Justice. The Caribbean Experience.Read Now
Research supports the view that “if people living with HIV feel empowered to be open about their status, they can access the right medical treatment and social support and protect their partners’’. So how do Caribbean Parliamentarians intend to deal with these issues of human rights, equality and justice?
The response will focus on three (3) major issues that have attracted the attention of Caribbean parliamentarians: (a) Implementing the PANCAP Model Anti-discrimination legislation and amending the Sexual Offenses against the Persons Act; (b) Advocating against criminalizing HIV and (c) Resolving the stalemate on Comprehensive Sexual Education (a fourth issue, violence against women, girls and adolescents will be the focus of a subsequent blog).
Adopt the CARICOM Model Anti-discrimination Legislation and amending the Sexual Offenses against the Persons Act
This model Legislation initiated by PANCAP and adopted by the CARICOM Legal Advisory Committee, including the Attorneys Generals of the Region (May 2012) was drafted by some of the best legal minds in the Caribbean. https://caricom.org/.../pancap-model-anti-discrimination-legislation-interface-between-...
It addresses issues impacting people living with HIV and AIDS which are also issues of human rights. Because of the implications of denial of these rights, the Model Legislation promotes an inclusive approach to ending discrimination, not just on the basis of HIV status but on wider grounds, including gender, disability and sexual orientation. A snapshot of the HIV related legal environment in the Caribbean in 2012 remains almost the same today:
Resulting from the current round of Parliamentarian Sensitization Forums coordinated by PANCAP, all countries have agreed to advance the process for implementing the Model as an aspirational goal for eliminating stigma and discrimination, while translating its clauses into legislation to reflect national consensus. The adoption of the model will also respond to many of the outstanding legal gaps that fall under the Offences Against the Persons Act, sections of the Criminal Code, The Immigration Act and laws that support child marriage. These currently engage parliamentarians throughout the Caribbean.
Reconsider Attempts at Criminalizing HIV
The issue of criminalizing HIV has long been under consideration throughout the world. Recently in Jamaica, The Joint Select Committee of Parliament made a recommendation to introduce a law to criminalize willfully knowingly and recklessly transmitting HIV and other STIs. This issue was an item on the agenda of the Jamaica Parliamentarian Sensitization Forum in February 2019. The arguments presented by Jamaica Network of Seropositives supported by findings of behavioral research of LANCET, UNAIDS and others, led to a recommendation for Jamaica to reconsider its position. The reasons include the following negative effects of the proposed law:
In addition, the Sexual Offenses Act (Section 22) in Jamaica and elsewhere, already deals with clear cases of knowingly and willfully transmitting harmful infections. Hence no new specific HIV law is necessary.
It is important to note that on June 20, 2019, four (4) months after the advocacy of the Jamaica Network of Seropositives to the PANCAP/Jamaica Parliamentarian Sensitization Forum, The Canadian Federal Justice Commission supported its arguments in a comprehensive report on Criminalization of HIV Non-Disclosure https://www.halco.org › news › crim...Response to Federal Justice Committee Report on Criminalization of People Living With HIV | HALCO - HIV & AIDS Legal Clinic Ontario
Resolve the stalemate on Comprehensive Sexual Education
For some time and since 2000 in particular, the CARICOM Health and Family Life Education (HFLE) Program has been used as a regional tool for public awareness for in and out of school youth on matters relating to sex and healthy lifestyles. There has always been cynicism about the appropriateness of its content for various ages and the widespread reticence or lack of competence of teachers and most community leaders in delivering HFLE curriculum. More recently, UNESCO in collaboration with other UN agencies and widespread engagement of stakeholders in countries around the world has produced a Model for Comprehensive Sexual Education. It is intended as an evidenced informed approach and a curriculum based process of teaching and learning about cognitive, emotional, physical and social aspects of sexuality. It is aimed at young people before they become sexually active and those most vulnerable to misinformation. CSE is also intended to be delivered by well trained teachers complemented by parents and guardians and youth friendly services. Its evidence based benefits include:
However, there is disquiet and in some instance strong objections from certain segments of the religious community on the content and intent of CSE. This is notwithstanding that CSE like the PANCAP Model Anti-discrimination Legislation offers a template that makes provision for modifications by countries based on their cultural norms, religious belifs and adherence to findings of biomedical and behavioral research.
Here is where the representational and oversight roles of parliamentarians become important. There is consensus that public education is an essential function of prevention. Therefore, among the actions that the parliamentary system can pioneer is convening national multi sectoral commissions to review the CSE curriculum to ensure that it is age appropriate. Such a Commission based on diversity can carve out principles that place emphasis on equipping young people with the knowledge, skills attitudes and values that will empower them to realize their health, well-being and dignity; inculcate greater appreciation for family relations, a better understanding of friendship, love and romantic relations, the value of tolerance, inclusion and respect and long term commitment to parenting.
The “How “ requires Parliamentarians Taking Bold steps
Parliamentarians in the Caribbean have formidable illustrations of the value of pursuing their collective legislative, representative and oversight roles. It was the CARICOM Heads of Governments that issued the Nassau Declaration: The health of the Region is the Wealth of the Region In its salutation, CARICOM Heads stated “cognizant of the critical role of health in the economic development of our people and overawed by the prospect that our current health problems, especially HIV/AIDS, may impede such development through the devastation of our human capital” https://caricom.org/.../nassau-declaration-on-health-2001-the-health-of-the-region-is-t.
In the 2007 Port of Spain Declaration, Uniting to Fight the Non-communicable Diseases (NCDs), CARICOM Heads of Government stated that they were ‘conscious of the collective actions which have in the past fueled regional integration, the goal of which is to enhance the well-being of the citizens of our countries’ http://caricom.org/media-center/communications/statements-from-caricom-meetings/declaration-of-port-of-spain-uniting-to-stop-the-epidemic-of-chronic-ncds
While the Nassau Declaration offered a template for action based on two pillars - the Caribbean Cooperation in Health and the Pan Caribbean Partnership Against HIV/AIDS, the Port of Spain Declaration triggered the UN High Level Meeting on NCDs that escalated into an international movement for health and wellness. At the heart of both Declarations, are implementable recommendations that depend on public education and national, regional and international solidarity. In both, the quintessential examples of functional cooperation are prominent features. And in both, there is a clear understanding that the health and well-being of societies are intricately linked to human capital development
GOFAD is pleased to post this special blog by Ms. Myrna Bernard, one of its Advisors. The piece was submitted as a comment on the June 6 blog, "CARICOM HRD Strategy as Investing in Human Capital". The Strategy was endorsed at the 38th Conference of Heads of Government Meeting in Grenada in July 2017. A CARICOM Commission on HRD was established in March 2018 to shape the Regional Educational and Human Resource Development Strategy. This blog will hopefully keep the issues of Human Capital Development alive. Its targets are aligned with the 2030 UN Sustainable Development Goal #4 "Quality Education" and are compatible with those of the World Bank Human Capital Project (See GOFAD Blog: "Placing Human Capital at the Center of the Sustainable Development Goals" May 9, 2019). Ms. Bernard was until recently Director in Directorate of Human and Social Development at CARICOM Secretariat and one of the architects of CARICOM HRD Strategy. The Strategy may be viewed via this link 2 HRD Strategy (2.96 MB)
The GOFAD blog of June 6, 2019 provided a useful overview of the main purpose and elements of the CARICOM HRD 2030 Strategy, and also highlighted antecedent efforts by the Caribbean Community to work together on streamlining efforts for cooperation in Human Capital/ Human Resource Development. This contribution highlights some areas which are already the specific focus of preliminary implementation efforts and which provide useful tools for co-ordination and successful implementation at both regional and national levels.
The Vision of the HRD 2030 Strategy, ‘Unlocking Human Potential’ recognizes the need for deliberate action in several spheres and at several levels, to ensure that Caribbean citizens, especially children and youth, but also inclusive of older adults, are provided opportunities for development of the skills and attitudes needed for success in their personal as well as professional lives. This is of specific importance in the current environment, given the rapid changes in skill sets needed to take advantage of opportunities in a world now driven by technological change and resultant changes in requirements for success. These changes have resulted, for example, in a reordering of the importance of crucial skills for success in both personal and working life. The World Economic Forum (WEF) hierarchy of 10 most important skills and competencies needed in employment by 2020, and cited in the HRD Strategy, lists complex problem solving as #1 followed by critical thinking; creativity; people management; coordinating with others; emotional intelligence; judgement and decision making; service orientation; and cognitive flexibility. If the Caribbean is to become globally competitive, its systems for HRD must take cognizance of trends such as these.
For each of the Strategic Priorities outlined in the HRD 2030 Strategy, viz. Access and Participation, Equity, Quality and Relevance, important strategies have been targeted for each level of education. Member States, through the Council for Human and Social Development (COHSOD) have agreed on specific strategies for priority attention at the regional level. A close look at projections such as those of the WEF will certainly call into question, whether the current systems for policy development and management of the education systems in the Region are suitably oriented and equipped in this regard. It is for this reason, that the Strategy pays close attention, not only to outlining actions directly linked to the Strategic Priorities, but also pays focused specific attention to what is referred to in the Strategy as ‘Enablers’. The focus on enablers highlights the importance of concomitant effort at streamlining HRD Sector planning, management and delivery. This no doubt aims to avoid the negative consequences of the proverbial ‘pouring of new wine into old wineskins’.
As the Strategy is implemented across the Region, it is important to recognize and address the seeming ‘disruptions’ which will result at all levels. Systems which have hitherto been merely tinkered with to accommodate previous reform efforts will need to be fundamentally reoriented to shape the citizens and workers of the future. These changes will require specific attention, orientation and capacity building at several levels/tiers, including in particular, central policy making and management systems; education institutions at all levels, and in particular those charged with the preparation of educators; students and parents; local communities and the society as a whole.
At the level of the schools and other institutions of learning, the major requirement is for a switch from traditional practices, several of which still focus in large part, for example, on traditional media, acquisition of knowledge, individual achievement, competence in large part limited to the mental, to addressing development of competencies required for successful participation in the socio-digital world. Important shifts in emphasis include the expert use of digital media; multi-tasking; knowledge creation, including through collaborative effort; emotional intelligence and critical thinking. These issues have important implications for the assigning of value to specific competencies and for assessing and rewarding our students at all levels. This calls to mind pertinent words of caution I read some while ago, with regard to not valuing what we can easily measure, but ensuring that we measure what we truly value.
The Implementation Plan for the HRD2030 Strategy, developed in collaboration with Member States, institutions and other partners to address the HRD 2030 Strategy recognizes the importance of reorientation at several levels of the system in order to enable and drive the change required. Work has already begun in important areas to facilitate regional and national action. In this regard, Technical Working Groups (TWGs) established by the CARICOM Secretariat worked alongside the Strategy Development process to focus on design and development of specific educational policies, systems and models to accompany the implementation of the Strategy. The Groups focused on Early Childhood Development, External Quality Assurance, Open and Distance Learning, Teaching Innovations and Educational Leadership and Tertiary Education. The TWGs have produced Reports in the following areas for the consideration of COHSOD.
CARICOM HRD 2030 Strategy has highlighted the importance of adopting new school models which play a crucial role fostering important 21st Century skills. The following link relates to a recent NBC NEWS article entitled ‘Wobbly Chairs and rolling Desks: Schools are rethinking classroom design to encourage creativity. https://www.nbcnews.com/news/.../wobbly-chairs-rolling-desks-schools-are-rethinking...
Successful Implementation of the CARICOM HRD 2030 Strategy is crucial to the empowerment of Caribbean Citizens at all levels to grasp opportunities for their own empowerment, and for the unleashing of the potential of the region to compete in the global arena.
27 June, 2019
Building Blocks for Parliamentarians handling their Roles as Advocates for Human Rights, Equality and Justice.Read Now
This blog is the third in the series of Equality and Justice for All. It was necessary to do a "double -take" after realizing that it was necessary to set the scene more concretely. The role of parliamentarians will therefore be tackled in two instalments. This week's focus is on What are the building blocks required by Parliamentarians to undertake their roles as Advocates? Next week's will focus on How?
In an era where 192 Countries, including all Caribbean Community Member States have committed to achieving the 2030 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Parliaments as one of the key state institutions have critical roles to play. As the democratically elected representatives of the people, parliaments have the honorable task to ensure government by the people and for the people. Through their key legislation, representation and oversight functions, parliamentarians can actively engage in the development and implementation of laws, policies and practices that promote democracy and good governance. In this way they create the enabling environment for human capital development.
National , regional and international parliamentary groupings have been established to promote a variety of causes. Most prominent among these are Human rights, Equality and Justice. A sample of these groupings and their activities include:
In addition, a series of regional parliamentary groups have been pursuing a common set of goals to advance human rights-based population and development policies and programmes, including sexual and reproductive health and gender equality. They include:
The Inter-American Parliamentary Group on Population and Development (IAPG). This network includes Canada and the US, as countries that continue to strengthen their commitment to advancing sexual and reproductive health and rights for their own people, and that have a special relationship to Latin America and the Caribbean as developing partners.
The Asian Forum of Parliamentarians on Population and Development (AFPPD). This group specifically references the 2030 SDGs and the principle of 'leaving no one behind'.
The European Parliamentary Forum on Population and Development (EPF). This Forum brings together Parliamentarians committed to protecting the sexual and reproductive health and rights of the world’s most vulnerable.
The African Parliamentary Forum on Population and Development (APF). This Forum strives to tackle issues regarding sexual and reproductive health and rights and to pave the way for a brighter future for Africa’s women and girls, where every individual has access to the healthcare, education, and the tools they need to take control of their own bodies and lives.
The causes identified with the international and regional parliamentary fora are the same as those identified with the aims of the Judiciary and Faith leaders in the Caribbean (see GOFAD Blogs June 14 and June 21, 2019). They are highlighted in Project Equality used in the sensitization sessions at the 2019 Annual Caribbean Judicial Conference and the PANCAP Justice for All Roadmap endorsed by Caribbean Faith Leaders in their 2017 Declaration and used to sensitize religious leaders on issues related to reducing stigma and discrimination.
In the case of parliamentarians, I refer to the situation I know best. It is PANCAP's sensitization sessions that revolve around the principles of Justice for All, but focus specifically on the implementation of the PANCAP Model Policy Anti-stigma and Discrimination legislation. This Model legislation approved by the Legal Advisory Committee, comprising the Attorneys General of CARICOM in 2012, has yet to be implemented in any CARICOM Country. Yet CARICOM Member States have ratified the principles of human rights, justice and equality enunciated in the Inter American Parliamentary Forum and the 2018 Commonwealth Conference.
The prospects for an accelerated response from Caribbean parliamentarians within the scope of the 2030 SDGs era, are mixed. Engagements under the PANCAP Justice for All programme have stimulated some movement starting with a Regional consultation of approximately 60 parliamentarians in May 2017 in Jamaica. Since then, there have been six national parliamentarian sensitization fora in Barbados, Belize, Jamaica, Saint Lucia, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago and four regional multi-stakeholder consultations. While the regional parliamentary consultations led to broad agreements for actions in-line with the legislative, representational and oversight roles of parliamentarians, the country specific sessions addressed policies for overcoming the challenges with reference to removing barriers to AIDS related stigma and discrimination and the multi-stakeholder engagements among parliamentarians, faith leaders, civil society representatives and key populations provided opportunities for reconciling differences in perspectives and fostering alliances toward the goals of ending the AIDS epidemic. Consequently, the trends have been toward positive outcomes based on providing technical assistance to parliamentarians to identify challenges, gaps and opportunities for enhancing their legislative, representational and oversight roles. These include enhancing knowledge of parliamentarians about the following:
TEST, TREAT and DEFEAT based on the UNAIDS scientific 90-90-90 targets which predicts that AIDS can be ended by 2030: if by 2020, 90 percent of people living with HIV are tested; if 90% of those tested are on treatment; and if 90% of those on treatment attain viral loads in the blood low enough as not to transmit the disease.
Elements of the PANCAP Model Policy Legislation: A 2018 survey revealed that only 25 percent of a random sample of regional parliamentarians were aware of its existence. Hence widespread distribution to all parliamentarians in the six target countries is expected to increase awareness and thereby help to expedite its implementation.
Specific activities related to Primary Parliamentary Roles: Based on legal assessments undertaken for each country several recommendations have emerged about what type of policies may be adopted and implemented by parliamentarians. Some examples provide a range of possibilities that will contribute toward ending AIDS:
PANCAP continues to engage and support parliamentarians through technical assistance to sustain their sensitization to critical issues; the organisational arrangements such as webinars, sharing information through its knowledge of health programmes and utilizing a variety of social media tools to increase awareness, share best practices and foster greater participation in activities aimed at supporting human rights and dignity for all.
We have hereby set the context for examining how parliamentarians are handling their roles as advocates for human rights, equality and justice, prerequisites for human capital development.
Since its inception in 2001, the Pan Caribbean Partnership Against HIV/AIDS (PANCAP) has engaged Faith Leaders in its accelerated approach to prevention, treatment, care and support for people infected and affected with HIV. PANCAP has been conscious of the important work of religious groups in pastoral care and guidance and the widespread respect and impact that religious leaders command from their varying communities. Since its Champion for Change Conference in St Kitts/Nevis in 2004 and the follow up regional consultation of religious leaders in 2005 in Guyana, PANCAP has convened fifteen (15) national and four (4) other regional consultations involving Faith Leaders under the auspices of its Justice for All (JFA) program initiated in 2013. These activities have resulted in a JFA Roadmap, as a living document, with fifteen (15) actionable recommendations around the following five (5) principles:
♣ Enhancing family life and focusing on those in need.
♣ Increasing access to treatment and affordable medicines.
♣ Reducing gender inequality including violence against women and girls.
♣ Promoting prevention with special reference to sexual and reproductive health and rights including age appropriate sexual education.
♣ Implementing legislative reforms for modifying AIDS-related stigma and discrimination.
Among the most significant outcomes from the JFA process has been the Caribbean Faith Leaders Declaration, resulting from the Port of Spain consultation (February 1-2 2017) with ten (10) actionable recommendations. The most pertinent include:
While Project Equality developed by the Caribbean Judiciary (Global Frontier Blog June 14) is based on evidence produced by socio-legal concepts of equality and non-discrimination, Justice for All is predicated on the scientific 90-90-90 targets developed by UNAIDS in 2016, and on eliminating stigma and discrimination as fundamental to human rights. In the first instance, the biomedical-scientific conclusion is that AIDS can be ended by 2030, if by 2020, 90 percent of people living with AIDS are tested and know their status; 90 percent of those tested are on treatment; and 90 percent of those on treatment have the virus in their blood low enough as not to transmit the disease. Secondly, the results of behavioral studies illustrate that the persistence of stigma and discrimination is a major barrier to achieving the 90-90-90 targets.
In addition to the consultations, Faith Leaders across the Caribbean have undertaken a series of studies to inform actions intent on responding to the both scientific and behavioral tendencies required to end AIDS.
In Jamaica, a 2017 Mapping exercise by the Jamaica Council of Churches and the World Council of Churches had been undertaken to determine the nature of the response to HIV among churches and other religious groups. The exercise, provides a model for other countries and has led to several recommendations including:
In Barbados, a 2006 survey on awareness of pastors and youth leaders (including Sunday School teachers) in the Evangelical denomination showed that the attitudes and practices to sex and sexuality of church goers vary only slightly from the general population. The conclusions, all still relevant , pointed to a series of suggested actions to be considered by religious leaders:
In October 2017, The Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network and Anglicans for Decriminalization hosted a two-day conference in Jamaica examining the role of the Church in anti-sodomy laws across the Commonwealth. A book, titled Intimate Conviction was published as a report from this engagement that brought together activists, church officials, and politicians from around the world. One of the main features of this volume is a biblical survey by Dr. John Holder, former Anglican Archbishop of the West Indies. It illustrates that ‘homosexuality’ is addressed only five times in the Bible and they provide the context and driving force of its interpretation. In all cases it is treated as ‘nontraditional sexual encounters’ that are not condemned. Hence, the conviction of the writers of the Bible is that there is space in God’s relationship for the non-traditional. Dr Holder’s conclusion is that “our journey through the Bible does not provide us with any overwhelming rejection of homosexuality. Given the varied contexts within which the practice is rejected, it is difficult to treat these as providing any universal condemnation” .
In 2013 Sir George Alleyne and Professor Rose-Marie Belle Antione edited HIV and Human Rights: Legal and Policy Perspectives on HIV in the Caribbean, that grappled with answers to the outstanding issues of human rights. Their conclusions were the outcome of a pathbreaking symposium of legal, public health and civil society practitioners. They illustrated that HIV attracts a wide variety of human rights abuses and the social and legal issues faced by protagonists in the HIV challenge and viewpoints of policy makers. They recommended that these contending views could lead to new and more rights sensitive laws, but required that consideration must be given to societal prejudices that militate against transformational change.
Looking to the Future
What has emerged is that faith leaders and FBOs are by no means a homogeneous group. There are many contending ideas, different responses, levels of understanding and manifest convictions especially around the issues of abolishing discriminatory laws. As a result, efforts within the PANCAP JFA programme have attempted to foster an aura of respectful dialogue on the essence of human rights among factions within the national religious organizations and between religious leaders and other stakeholders. PANCAP Forums bring together various combinations of stakeholders — religious leaders, key 'LGBTI' populations, youth, and parliamentarians. These have mainly achieved the objective of reducing tensions and challenges that impede progress to end the AIDS epidemic. A joint forum between religions leaders and key populations in Trinidad and Tobago (April 2018) led Faith leaders to identify priority areas for action and issues that require clarification. Since that time, PANCAP has been involved in clarifying terms in common usage, updating the Justice for All Roadmap and examining the proposals for rolling out Comprehensive Sexual Education in accordance with the concerns of faith leaders and in line with CARICOM’s Health and Family Life Education.
Another joint forum between Faith Leaders and Key LGBTI populations in February 2017, agreed that Faith Leaders should “create spaces of hospitality” and welcome “the other in their otherness” while making efforts to reach out to the marginalized. At the same time, key populations are required to show appreciation for differences among religious leaders and denominations and engage in respectful dialogue. In short, the PANCAP JFA programme has evolved with due regard for the differences within the religious communities and in recognition of their vital role in reducing stigma and discrimination.
Indications are that litigation in the courts based on the principle of equality for all is most likely to rule that criminalizing same sex relations between consenting adults is unconstitutional. This has already been the case in Belize, and Trinidad and Tobago in the Caribbean, and increasingly in Africa and recently, India. The Judicial process may yet act as a catalyst for either accelerating factionalism among religious denominations or reconciling these differences through the principles of Justice for All. Can Parliamentarians contribute to unlocking the barriers to stigma and discrimination? This is a question that will be tackled next.
Securing Equality for All in the Administration of Justice: Another Twist to Human Capital DevelopmentRead Now
This series of blogs over the next three (3) weeks will focus on some fundamental underpinnings of Human Capital Development. It commences this week with the judicial factors, to be followed by the religious and the parliamentary, respectively. This series is inspired by the work of the Pan Caribbean Partnership against HIV/AIDS in the Caribbean (PANCAP), under the umbrella of the Caribbean Community and its Justice for All (JFA) Roadmap: https://pancap.org/pancap-documents/pancap-justice-for-all-roadmap-revised-2018-12-11/. The JFA programme engages a variety of stakeholders toward the goal of reducing stigma and discrimination, that are major barriers to ending AIDS within the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) #3, "Good Health and Wellbeing" while advocating for achieving the Targets of SDG # 16, " Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions".
The Judicial Education Institute of Trinidad and Tobago (JEITT) together with the Faculty of Law, St Augustine; Institute of Gender and Development Studies (IGDS), UWI St Augustine; The UWI Rights Advocacy Project (URAP); and the Pan Caribbean Partnership against HIV/AIDS (PANCAP) must be congratulated for initiating the Judicial Dialogue on Securing Equality for All in the Administration of Justice, in 2017. The theme is also the title of a book edited by Janeille Zorina Matthews, a multidisiplinary criminal justice scholar and Joel Amoah, a researcher and activist on human rights and legal pluralism. Contributions to this volume are by highly regarded lecturers, researchers, advocates, legal practitioners and the social scientists. The initial dialogue has been converted into an Annual Judicial Conference which in May 2019, brought together approximately 120 Judges and magistrates from the Caribbean in St Kitts/Nevis. In this case, the focus was on Project Equality which in essence, demonstrates how the legal environment is important to human capital development. It is a sensitization process for regional judges, judicial masters and magistrates updated by evidence from socio-legal research with a view to:
Legal concepts of equality and non-discrimination. These hinge on the principle that “all humans are born equal in dignity and rights” (Article I of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948). Hon Justice Jamadar, a contributor to this volume and soon to be sworn in as Justice of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) presents a unique interpretation of the meaning of “being” in the Declaration. It is interpreted to mean 'life itself' to include rivers, forests, oceans, flora, fauna and the earth itself. It is the consequence of the larger vision that is truly a recognition of social, cultural, and environmental consciousness that leads spontaneously and responsibly to respect and regard equality for all in the broadest sense.
Bridging the gap in trust and fairness. Research shows that equal treatment is reflected in the structures, systems and attitudes in which individuals and communities engage. They are essential to peace and security. Hence Project Equality focuses on the historically marginalized, alienated and vulnerable groups and communities in society. Among the reasons for this are three pertinent tendencies.. First, the distrust of the state relates to a deep rooted colonial past of policing whereby 'the policed' are treated as subjects rather than citizens. Second the practice of punishing vulnerability is gradually being reviewed. Examples are the dramatic reduction in criminalization of ganga use in Jamaica, the current discussions about criminalization of HIV transmission and the recent rulings that criminalization of consensual sex between adults is a violation of the Constitutions of Belize and Trinidad and Tobago. Third, the privileging of Christianity that may result in religious dogma unconsciously influencing law making or may be disproportionately influencing the court room. Several judicial decisions (Mc Farlane vs Relate 2010) conclude that promoting the law for the protection of a position held purely on religious grounds cannot be justified. The intent must be on ensuring that the needs of the most vulnerable are met and a resolve “to leave no one behind”.
Removing impediments to accessing justice. A series of reforms in the administration of justice refer to the key tenet of the rule of law and procedural fairness. They stress the principle that a model code of judicial conduct ensures that persons must be able "to get to the court room door"; must not be subject to undue impediments to having their cases heard; and must not suffer any form of vulnerability, disadvantage and social exclusion. A good illustration is the ruling of the Jamaica Appeals Court in Court of Appeal vs Hines and King (1971), on the right of a Rastafarian to begin his oath with "I swear by Almighty God, King Rastafari". This according to the ruling is "consistent with his professed belief of the sect to which he belongs". Similar groups have benefited from rulings supporting their rights to access. In 2007, Justice Bereaux underscored the importance of equal access by ordering that provision be made for facilities for people with disabilities to have access to the public entrance of the Hall of Justice in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago. The Jamaica Judicial code (revised 2014) states that " it is part of the judge's role to ensure proper accommodation is made for people who experience certain challenges, might have difficulties or be at a disadvantage". More recently, CCJ rulings in McEwan vs Attorney General Guyana (2018) also supported trans persons getting into the court room with what was otherwise considered 'inappropriate dress'.
Recommendation to improve access to justice and secure equality before the law for vulnerable groups. The book is replete with recommendations drawn from various countries, highlighted in the sensitization sessions at the 2019 Judicial Conference. Among them are the following codes of conduct for judges:
How these legal codes and principles for reducing stigma and discrimination match the outcomes of discussions among faith leaders and parliamentarians will follow.
Janielle Zorina Matthews and Jewel Amoah eds, Securing Equality for All in the Administration of Justice : Proceedings of the Caribbean Judicial Dialogue , Faculty of Law, UWI, Mona , Jamaica : Pear Tree Press, 2019