In the months leading up to COP26, the terms accessibility and funding have become mantras that, from a Caribbean perspective, threaten to fall on deaf ears. World leaders have called for a faster transition to sustainable development, but the two things slowing this transition are accessibility and funding – two things world leaders have promised wholeheartedly and have yet to deliver.
The Caribbean is one of those regions affected by this problem. Mitigating and primarily adapting to the impacts of climate change comes at a significant cost, and for a long time island nations and developing countries have struggled with it. Despite the fact that global action has been difficult to implement, developing countries have always continued to open up new opportunities for sustainability. These efforts were bolstered by the ability to lead discussions on climate change mitigation.
Given the financial commitments and logistical challenges associated with travel, it is admirable that the Caribbean nations have always been present and willing to show leadership at the annual United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP). Often organized in the northern hemisphere, participation in these summits is disproportionately disadvantageous for island states. Accessibility has always been promised, but the access routes have never been transparent or clear. Expensive travel costs, exorbitant prices for accommodation at the peaks are additional barriers to the voices necessary for the climate conversation. Although there are often several Caribbean nations and Small Island Developing States (SIDS) represented at COPs, there is no guarantee that this same nation will be able to attend the next conference. Yet every year there has been representation.
With the threat of COVID still very present and international travel even more difficult to cover long distances, SIDS delegations have fewer opportunities to travel to this year’s 26th COP in Glasgow. As always, there will be representation – but certainly not as much as in previous years. Considering the time these nations have invested in alerting to the impending climate crisis, the time it has taken for the problem to be recognized and the uneven nature of the damage inflicted by this crisis, it seems unfair that nations islanders are no better opportunities to make their voices heard as a priority in global negotiations.
ABUNDANCE OF OPPORTUNITIES
Resilience and innovation are the engines of the Caribbean. No challenge is too small or too big, and even the threat of the climate crisis is not enough to cool people down. “What will it take for the powerful of the world to protect us from the existential threat to our survival?” Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley asked, “But we who are invisible don’t have the luxury of time because we are busy trying to survive.” If it matters enough, we can choose to end climate change. Our only limits are the limits of our imagination. We realize what we put our resources behind, ”she continued. “Choose to end climate change. We will do it. Human ingenuity will allow us to do this. But we cannot wait. Let’s move it forward.
Thus, developing countries continued to be at the forefront of sustainable development initiatives. From the Caribbean region implementing climate smart technologies, to agrotourism in Grenada and renewable energy in Jamaica, the entire region is finding the solutions needed for a global transition to sustainability. While this innovation and problem solving has led to a series of breakthroughs and opportunities, the search for affordable financing continues to be a problem.
This is despite the frameworks put in place to compensate developing countries facing loss and damage caused by climate change and even after the provisions of the Paris Agreement established a financing plan to help develop local initiatives for climate change. adaptation and capacity building. After acknowledging the problems reported by the islands, world governments agreed to take concerted action, but somehow the promised aid did not materialize, and certainly not the way it was. it was presented. Beyond the equality issues facing developing countries participating in the COP, financing is expected to be one of the main topics of discussion at this year’s climate conference – but both have similar connotations. . Our hope is that the outcome of this COP will be that funding moves from a point of discussion to a point of decisive and measurable action.
As Dr Walton Aubrey Webson, representative of Antigua and Barbuda to the United Nations and chair of the Alliance of Small Island States, stressed at the 2021 Virtual Islands Summit: “It is time for a change. We need developed countries to keep their promises. It is no longer a question of money, but a question of existence.
This sentiment was also shared by the head of the United Nations Development Program, Achim Steiner. “Isn’t it ridiculous that in the midst of a trillion dollar emergency response economy that we are seeing right now, we are haggling over a $ 20 billion price tag to essentially free up hundreds of billions of dollars, if not billions of dollars, in investments from developing countries. Time is running out and we cannot find a way to finance this? This is just not acceptable.
It is in this context that the COP26 of the UNFCCC is taking place in Glasgow: a cleavage between developed and developing countries on questions of accessibility and funding. Although there have been more barriers to entry than usual, SIDS and developing countries in the Caribbean and around the world will be represented and will want to be heard. COP26 President Alok Sharma called for these groups to be more visible and listened to during negotiations, and it will be our innovation and resilience that will be highlighted. A wide selection of sustainable development program opportunities exist in the Caribbean. They just need the funding, coupled with the measure and accountability associated with that funding, to be available and distributed in a fair and equitable manner.
– Racquel Moses is the CEO of Caribbean Climate-Smart Accelerator. Send your comments to [email protected]