News Releases

UWI joins forces with 25+ partners to address the climate and health crisis in the Caribbean

For Release Upon Receipt - September 14, 2021

St. Augustine

Free registration for virtual conference in October 

The UWI St. Augustine, Trinidad & Tobago. Tuesday, September 14th, 2021 – An unprecedented gathering sponsored by more than 25 Caribbean, United States, and international organizations, including The University of the West Indies (The UWI), has been established to address the public health challenge of climate change in the Caribbean, one of the most vulnerable regions in the world to the adverse health effects of the climate crisis. The first step in this collaboration is a virtual conference that will be held October 5-8, 2021. 

Climate change is having multiple adverse health effects in the Caribbean. More intense hurricanes, accelerating sea level rise, extreme heat, warming oceans, drought, and other climate change impacts cause food and water insecurity, hurricane-induced disruption of medical care for persons living with chronic diseases, heat-related illness, spread of vector-borne and water-borne infections, diminished air quality, and mental health disorders.  

The Caribbean’s costly noncommunicable disease epidemic – cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, and respiratory disease – is in part caused by climate change drivers. For example, in addition to emitting greenhouse gases, fossil fuel-dependent mechanized agriculture and motorized transport contribute to air pollution, sedentariness, unhealthy diets, obesity, and mental ill health. 

The Caribbean Region is comprised of some 16 diverse, independent countries and 15 territories of G-20 Members, with more than 40 million residents and over 50 million visitors annually. The Region has of necessity developed some climate adaptation and disaster response and recovery capacity, but is limited by inadequate access to financing, by weak monitoring and data systems for evidence-informed planning and execution, and by challenges in alignment of effort across such a diverse range of countries, territories, and sectors. 

“This is indeed a timely and important conference. It will bring together people from far and wide across the Caribbean and beyond to discuss how our region can improve its response to Climate Change, and in-so-doing help to protect Caribbean lives,” said  Professor Chris Oura, Professor of Veterinary Virology at The UWI St. Augustine Campus. “The UWI is very pleased for be playing a leading role in both supporting and presenting at this important conference”, he added. The conference focuses on the information key stakeholders need for action: 

•              October 5: The Varied Effects of Climate Change on Health

•              October 6: Immediate Health Benefits of Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation

•              October 7: The Health Sector and its Role in Addressing Climate Change and Health

•              October 8: Participation, Representation, and Collaboration to Implement the Research     


Expected conference outputs include:

•              An action-oriented research and implementation agenda to address knowledge and implementation gaps

•              A white paper for publication in a peer-reviewed journal

•              A communication product for the public and media

•              A presentation of the conference results at the WHO Global Conference on Health and Climate Change COP26 side event 

A key conference goal is formation and strengthening of networks and linkages among participants to help promote action on climate change and health. After the conference, the consortium will work to finalize the research and implementation agenda and to obtain funding for, and coordinate and track progress in, its implementation. 

Consortium partners from the Caribbean include EarthMedic and EarthNurse Foundation for Planetary Health, The University of the West Indies, Universities Caribbean, University of Puerto Rico, University of the Virgin Islands, St Georges University, University of Guyana, Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency, Dominica Ministry of Health, Healthy Caribbean Coalition, Antonio Núñez Jiménez Foundation for Nature and Humanity, and Caribbean Regional Track of the Pilot Programme for Climate Resilience. 

International partners include the Pan American Health Organization, European Union, Consortium of Universities for Global Health, Island Innovation Network, Lancet Countdown on Health and Climate Change, UK Health Security Agency, Inter-American Development Bank, Global Climate and Health Alliance, and Climate Investment Funds. 

United States partners include the Yale Center on Climate Change and Health, Emory Rollins School of Public Health, University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health, Yale MacMillan Center Council on Latin American & Iberian Studies, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Yale Institute for Global Health, and Yale Eastern Caribbean Health Outcomes Research Network. 

The conference has received funding from The Edward J. and Dorothy Clarke Kempf Memorial Fund, the Council on Latin American & Iberian Studies at The Whitney and Betty MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies at Yale, the Burroughs Wellcome Fund, the European Union, the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health, Emory University Rollins School of Public Health, the Yale Institute for Global Health, and the Inter-American Development Bank. 

Registration for the conference is free and is available here. Simultaneous interpretation from English to Spanish and English to French will be available.


About The UWI

The UWI has been and continues to be a pivotal force in every aspect of Caribbean development; residing at the centre of all efforts to improve the well-being of people across the region. 

From a university college of London in Jamaica with 33 medical students in 1948, The UWI is today an internationally respected, global 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 its Open Campus, and 10 global centres in partnership with universities in North America, Latin America, Asia, Africa and Europe

The UWI offers over 800 certificate, diploma, undergraduate and postgraduate degree options in Culture, Creative and Performing Arts, Food and Agriculture, Engineering, Humanities and Education, Law, Medical Sciences, Science and Technology, Social Sciences, and Sport. As the Caribbean’s leading university, it possesses the largest pool of Caribbean intellect and expertise committed to confronting the critical issues of our region and wider world. 

Ranked among the top universities in the world, by the most reputable ranking agency, Times Higher Education, The UWI is the only Caribbean-based university to make the prestigious lists. In 2020, it earned ‘Triple 1st’ rankings—topping the Caribbean; and in the top in the tables for Latin America and the Caribbean, and global Golden Age universities (between 50 and 80 years old).  The UWI is also featured among the top universities on THE’s Impact Rankings for its response to the world’s biggest concerns, outlined in the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including Good Health and Wellbeing; Gender Equality and Climate Action. 

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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.)