Important Issues for CARICOM SIDS Highlighted at Ministerial Round Table

Minister Simon Steill

His Excellency Simon Stiell of Grenada has shared a number of important issues for CARICOM Small Island Developing States (SIDS) to be addressed as COP26 approached.

The issues were shared with the Incoming COP President and his team at a Ministerial Roundtable between CARICOM Ministers and the Incoming President of the 26th United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of the Parties (COP 26), on Thursday 27th August 2020. Twelve CARICOM Ministers attended the meeting.

One major issue Mr. Stiell raised was maintaining the momentum on climate ambition across all the main pillars of the Paris Agreement. He also expressed that greater ambition on greenhouse gas reduction to bring emissions in line with the 1.5C pathways as set out by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was needed and the major emitters needed to be onboard with updating more ambitious Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).

Minister Stiell noted that work on an enhanced transparency framework,  the common time frames to effectively monitor and evaluate the progress on achieving the goals set in Paris and resolving outstanding issues related to Loss and Damage, including its governance arrangements and access to resources to facilitate concrete programming by vulnerable countries were all critical to CARICOM.  He stressed that initiatives towards addressing climate change must always be guided by the science.

The Co-chair highlighted that Small Island Developing States were a significant portion of the Parties  to UNFCCC and have engaged constructively over the years on Climate Change and emphasised that the constructive engagement should not be taken for granted if the agenda for COP26 does not meet the global ambition that is called for at this time.

“We have a reputation of having a strong presence in the early stages of the negotiations. We are the poster children of vulnerability and we receive significant limelight in the early stages of the negotiations. However, as the politics overtake the science, the closed door discussions take over and our voices are no longer heard. If you genuinely seek a positive and meaningful outcome, then this must not happen in Glasgow,” he cautioned.

He said an inclusive approach was necessary to achieve strong results and suggested a collaborative approach to ensure that SIDS voices were present in the closed room discussions.

“Mr. President-designate, we know that a 90 minute discussion is not enough for us to answer these questions. But what we want to emphasise here is that CARICOM is committed to work hand in hand with you in developing these tools” he said.

CARICOM Youth Ambassadors (CYAs) from Barbados in a joint statement also addressed the Ministerial Roundtable and  posited a number of solutions that would be in the best interest of young people to the Incoming COP 26 President, Alok Sharma. According to the youth representatives nothing that involved young people’s future should be decided without their input every step of the way. This they said included research and planning to policy development and implementation.

They said devising solutions to the issues surrounding Climate Change was not an easy task and would require long-term strategies that incorporated the needs of all members of the community and youth engagement was a critical part of the process.

“Youth are data centric and technologically savvy. We need to create and utilise big data in our policy-making on Climate, Energy and Environment issues. Not only should the information collected be disaggregated to identify specific challenges we face, we should be used to gather and analyse the data.”

They further added that greater lobbying was needed for the international community to mobilise low interest financial mechanisms to support necessary youth-centric interventions and infrastructure.

The CYAs also highlighted that Education was another important issue which was an important component of any strategies to be undertaken.

“Young people must be made aware of the importance of practicing sustainability in all aspects of life. This information should be incorporated into educational curriculum and provided as part of any state- or agency-funded extracurricular learning opportunities. Governments should also commit to financing the capacity building of young people as climate activists ”they opined. 

COP26 is the annual UN climate conference. A ‘COP’ means ‘conference of parties’.

Governments and negotiators from across the world will convene to discuss how to keep temperature rises below dangerous levels and prevent the climate crisis from causing even worse catastrophes for the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people.

The COP is a summit of all the countries which are part of the UN’s climate change treaty, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change or ‘UNFCCC’. There are 197 members of this process and they are known as ‘parties’ to the treaty.

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