News Releases

UWI’S First Global Climate-Smart Institute

For Release Upon Receipt - October 13, 2021




The UWI Regional Headquarters, Jamaica. Wednesday, October 13, 2021—The Caribbean now has its own Global Institute for Climate-Smart and Resilient Development resourced by leading experts from The University of the West Indies (The UWI) and backed by high profile regional and international partner institutions—the likes of the United Nations Development Programme, Open Society Foundations and Barbados-born, Rihanna’s Clara Lionel Foundation. 

The new Institute was introduced during a virtual launch on Thursday, October 7. This first-of-its-kind for the Caribbean virtual hub consolidates The UWI’s research and teaching on climate change, disaster risk reduction, resilience and sustainable development. The UWI is uniquely positioned to lead this much-needed facility given its collective resources and expertise based on decades of research, validated by its current standing among the top 1.5% of all universities in the world, following recent rankings by the prestigious Times Higher Education ranking agency.  

Increasing the scientific understanding of the changing climate and its impacts on communities and economies is at the core of the new Institute’s objectives. It will also execute projects that promote more resilient and sustainable development. Renowned scientist from The UWI St Augustine Campus, Professor John Agard, who currently co-chairs the independent group of scientists selected by the United Nations to prepare the 2023 Global Sustainable Development Report, will serve as the Institute’s inaugural Executive Director. 

Dr Stacy Richards-Kennedy, Pro Vice-Chancellor Global Affairs at The University of the West Indies contextualised the relevance and timing of the launch of the Institute, noting, “At a time when all eyes are on the preparations for COP 26 taking place in Glasgow next month, and the importance of multilateral cooperation, the launch of the Global Climate-Smart Institute is also a manifestation of our region's collective response and of One UWI in action”.  

Professor Sir Hilary Beckles, Vice-Chancellor of the University further emphasized the historic moment as the culmination of decades of forward facing scientific research, training and public advocacy by the region’s leading university. He said, “My colleagues at The University of the West Indies have been whistleblowers on the theme of climate change” and noted that he felt that their work had been largely marginalised over the years. “What we have seen in recent times, however, has been the recognition that The University of the West Indies has provided a pivotal role in shaping global opinion, and providing the evidentiary basis for climate change policy.” He added, “The University of the West Indies is proud to be able to demonstrate once again its continued relevance and commitment, and the establishment of this pioneering institution is merely an indication, and a symbol of the commitment of this university.” 

Statements of support for the new Institute resonated from within the region and across the globe from prominent partners who have confidently committed funding and technical resources. The Honourable Gaston Browne, Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda and Chairman of CARICOM; Ms Elizabeth Riley, Executive Director of the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency; Dr Luis Felipe López-Calva, Assistant Secretary General and Regional Director of the United Nations Development Programme; Lord Mark Malloch-Brown, President of the Open Society Foundations; Ms Justine Lucas, Executive Director of the Clara Lionel Foundation; Professor Ian Jacobs, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of New South Wales on behalf of the International Universities Climate Alliance all expressed their endorsements for the institute and enthusiasm to partner with The UWI. 



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. 

The UWI has been consistently ranked among the top universities globally by the most reputable ranking agency, Times Higher Education (THE). In the latest World University Rankings 2022, released in September 2021, The UWI moved up an impressive 94 places from last year. In the current global field of some 30,000 universities and elite research institutes, The UWI stands among the top 1.5%. 

The UWI is the only Caribbean-based university to make the prestigious lists since its debut in the rankings in 2018. In addition to its leading position in the Caribbean, it is also in the top 20 for Latin America and the Caribbean and the top 100 global Golden Age universities (between 50 and 80 years old).  The UWI is also featured among the leading 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.)