News Releases

UWI Calls for Health to be an Intrinsic Part of Climate Policy

For Release Upon Receipt - April 22, 2021

St. Augustine

The St. Augustine Campus of The University of the West Indies (The UWI STA), reacting to the outcomes of this week's Climate Leaders’ Summit, is calling on Caribbean countries, including Trinidad and Tobago, to take urgent action to include health in Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) to reduce national emissions and adapt to the impacts of climate change.

The Climate Leaders’ Summit, held to mark Earth Day, was hosted by the United States, which has just re-entered the Paris Agreement. The Biden Administration brought together 40 world leaders, including the Prime Ministers of Jamaica and Antigua and Barbuda, to generate international momentum on ambitious climate action in the lead up to November’s UN climate negotiations (COP26).

“As the world continues to battle the COVID-19 pandemic, governments of all countries must seize the opportunity to commit to ambitious emissions reductions targets, aligned with the Paris Agreement, and make health and equity a central focus of our national climate policies,” said Dr. Christopher Oura, Professor of Veterinary Virology in the Faculty of Medical Sciences at The UWI, St. Augustine Campus.

Oura noted that “Here in Trinidad and Tobago we are at the forefront of the climate emergency. We therefore have a tremendous opportunity to reap significant health benefits from ambitious climate action. The benefits would be local, and many would be immediate, including from reduced air pollution such as Sahara dust, reduced damage and disease caused by severe weather events such as floods, cleaner oceans and beaches for our tourists, greater food security and healthier diets, increasing the health and wellbeing of our people.”

His colleague, Dr. Sandeep Maharaj, Lecturer in The UWI’s School of Pharmacy, agreed: “The health cost savings could offset the costs of climate action, and more importantly, we would see lives saved and improved health.”

Dr. Donald Simeon, Director of The UWI’s Caribbean Centre for Health Systems Research and Development, notes that “The UWI is working hard to shine a light on the health impacts of Climate Change. He pointed to the work being carried out at the Centre, which hosts the Caribbean Planetary Health hub, and the development and implementation of a Climate Change and Health fellowship programme as part of a European Union funded, PAHO implemented, project entitled “Strengthening Climate Resilient Health Systems in the Caribbean”.

“All countries”, he said, “including Trinidad and Tobago, need to do their fair share, and we need wealthy countries to provide the promised funding and resources to support action by lower income countries. Everyone’s health depends on it.”




About The UWI

For over 70 years The University of the West Indies (The UWI) has provided service and leadership to the Caribbean region and wider world. The UWI has evolved from a university college of London in Jamaica with 33 medical students in 1948 to an internationally respected, regional university with near 50,000 students and five campuses: Mona in Jamaica, St. Augustine in Trinidad and Tobago, Cave Hill in Barbados, Five Islands in Antigua and Barbuda and an Open Campus. As part of its robust globalization agenda, The UWI has established partnering centres with universities in North America, Latin America, Asia, Africa and Europe including the State University of New York (SUNY)-UWI Center for Leadership and Sustainable Development; the Canada-Caribbean Institute with Brock University; the Strategic Alliance for Hemispheric Development with Universidad de los Andes (UNIANDES); The UWI-China Institute of Information Technology, the University of Lagos (UNILAG)-UWI Institute of African and Diaspora Studies; the Institute for Global African Affairs with the University of Johannesburg (UJ); The UWI-University of Havana Centre for Sustainable Development; The UWI-Coventry Institute for Industry-Academic Partnership with the University of Coventry and the Glasgow-Caribbean Centre for Development Research with the University of Glasgow.

The UWI offers over 800 certificate, diploma, undergraduate and postgraduate degree options in Food & Agriculture, Engineering, Humanities & Education, Law, Medical Sciences, Science & Technology, Social Sciences and Sport. 

As the region’s premier research academy, The UWI’s foremost objective is driving the growth and development of the regional economy. The world’s most reputable ranking agency, Times Higher Education, has ranked The UWI among the top 600 universities in the world for 2019 and 2020, and the 40 best universities in Latin America and the Caribbean in 2018 and 2019, then top 20 in 2020. The UWI has been the only Caribbean-based university to make the prestigious lists. 

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(Please note that the proper name of the university is The University of the West Indies, inclusive of the “The”, hence The UWI.)