UWI News

The University of the West Indies’ Global Institute for Climate Smart and Resilient Development (GICSRD) led an important side event at the 2023 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference of the Parties (UNFCCC COP28), held from November 30 to December 13, 2023. The event, which targeted Caribbean delegates and attendees, highlighted the GICSRD’s work and promoted coordination and networking around climate action.

Hosting and presenting on behalf of the Institute, Project and Resource Mobilisation Officer Ms Neisha Manickchand said, “We want to strengthen partnerships for a climate resilient zone in the Caribbean.”

Ms Manickchand reported on key initiatives, including a university-wide call for climate change and resilience projects that is yielding a database and has already facilitated connections between The UWI experts and local NGOs. She also highlighted the UWIScholar platform which could be used to find experts in various fields, including climate change.

The COP side event also featured a panel that included Professor Dale Webber, Professor of Coastal Ecology and Environmental Management; Dr Jan Yves Remy, Director of The UWI Shridath Ramphal Centre for International Trade Law, Policy, and Services; Professor Donovan Campbell, Professor of Environmental Geography; and Professor Michelle Scobie, Professor of International Relations and Global Environmental Governance.

Professor Webber used the opportunity to give examples of the contributions of The UWI’s Climate Studies Group Mona (CSGM) and Centre for Marine Sciences (CMS). He spoke on the importance of funding and collaboration for research at the university. With IDB funding, The UWI has increased computer modelling capacity in predicting climate change in Jamaica and the wider region to inform water and agriculture decisions.

According to Professor Webber, “The ability to move sweet potato crop growth areas from Eastern Jamaica to Western Jamaica has helped us adapt our agriculture to match our climate, increasing our climate resilience.”

Expanding the conversation on funding, Professor Donovan Campbell made a plea for much needed increases in science investments:

“[Regarding] the vulnerabilities that are articulated for small islands, our scientists are providing the evidence basis to leverage funding, [but] the investment in Caribbean science is nowhere near where it should be… we will make a big mistake if, when all these investments come in, none of it or an inadequate amount goes back into the science. If we are not investing in science as a public good, we will not progress as a region.”

Speaking in her capacity as the director of the premier centre for trade capacity building in the region, Dr Yves Remy called for the social, economic, and legal voices to speak more prominently in the international sustainability debate.

“We are finding that you cannot talk trade without talking about the sustainability agenda. Climate action should become the catalysing voice to bring the sciences, as well as legal, economic, and social issues together,” she said.

Professor Scobie gave her perspective on climate governance and advocating for climate justice. She noted, “If we address the why we have climate change, the investments for Small Island Developing States would be much greater because the sense of responsibility as to the cause would be understood.”

COP28, hosted by the United Arab Emirates, welcomed delegates from over 200 countries gathered to reflect on progress on the Paris Agreement. It was a moment for the world to unite around tangible efforts and deliver realistic solutions through collaborations across civil society, governments, industries, and sectors. The resulting UAE Consensus is an enhanced and historic package to accelerate climate action.