The Increasing Importance of International Development Cooperation to Resolve the Challenges of Climate Change in Small Island Developing States (SIDS)Read Now
This blog is being presented in World Earth Week. It is written by Garfield Barnwell a specialist in the area of Sustainable Development and former Director in the Directorate of Human and Social Development, Caribbean Community Secretariat. GOFAD will continue this series and will post relevant commentaries and references. See www.globalonefrontier.org in Resources under Media and Issues and Ideas, and in Programmes under Sustainable Development, Climate Change and the Green Economy. Your comments are also welcomed .
Every human being lives on Planet Earth and it is our responsibility to protect it for ourselves
and for future generations. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change IPCC) has
emphasized that human actions are the principal cause of global warming and its ill effects.
The IPCC’s recent 1.5C report highlights the need for greater climate action around the world,
given that the major challenge has shifted from the stabilization of global greenhouse gases to
the urgency in slowing down the acceleration in the growth of those gases.
In the twenty-first century, climate change and climate vulnerability, including the costs of adaptation and mitigation, pose major challenges to developing economies. In addition, the small open economies in the Caribbean will simultaneously need to address other outstanding issues, such as high levels of debt, sustained economic growth, job creation, capacity development and poverty reduction. These conditions are best addressed in the context of multilateral agreements and the implementation of effective structural reforms.
The Challenges Facing the Caribbean
Climate change presents unique challenges for SIDS. This is particularly so, due to their small geographical location, isolation and exposure. In 2013, the scientific evidence in the fifth assessment report of the IPCC, 2013 showed that over the last 20 years, the average temperature in Latin America and Caribbean has increased by about 0.1 degree Celsius per decade. In the sub-regional hot spot in the Caribbean the warming is about twice the global mean. In determining what actions can be taken by SIDS in the Caribbean to address the consequences of climate change, it is important to note that although the sub-region contributes less than 1% of global greenhouse gas emissions, it is likely to suffer disproportional impacts. As such, the focus for Caribbean development practitioners should be to continue to emphasize adaptation to climate change, with mitigation as a supporting mechanism in their work programs.
These strategies need to be mainstreamed into national development policies and plans if they are to support the national vision and action. However, just as important as national actions, SIDS need to build momentum at the regional and international levels to drive their responsibility and motivation on climate change. This must include advocating for the strengthening of existing concessionary windows for technical assistance and financial flows for SIDS sustainable development and climate change.
Later this year, the United Nations (UN) Secretary General will host two major meetings. Firstly, there is a climate change meeting to build momentum and drive for a greater level of ambition ahead of 2020 Climate Change Summit. Secondly, the upcoming SIDS Review Meeting at the UN Headquarters, September, 2019 will review the progress that has been made in addressing the priorities of SIDS. Caribbean SIDS need to call on the UN to strengthen its institutions and mechanisms to promote the implementation of the SAMOA pathway and the Paris Agreement. Without an effective SIDS platform, this group of countries could lose the various concessional lending facilities for development assistance offered by most donor agencies and partners including the existing recognition of SIDS in the UNFCCC processes.
The Caribbean SIDS should build their future on the action of the present and seize the opportunity to improve the quality of life of the Caribbean people by moving towards a more sustainable pattern of development. The UN meetings represent an invaluable opportunity for the international community to formulate an inclusive, fair and equitable strategy in which the exercise of the precautionary principle can prevent irreversible damage.
In the preparation of international agreements on climate change and sustainable development, there is need for recognition of the different levels of development and asymmetries between the countries and regions. Designing proposals and strategies to tackle climate change should not run counter to the pursuit of sustainable development but should advance the cause. Unilateral actions that curb existing flows of funding and access to additional financial resources will only exacerbate the problems and cause greater harm to developing countries, particularly SIDS.