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UWI experts share insights from SIDS4 – Dominica News Online

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UWI EXperts at SIDS

The hosting of the 4th International Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS4) in the Caribbean was a significant event that underscored the immediate need for international collaboration to tackle the unique challenges that island nations face, often overlooked in the context of climate change.

During SIDS4, held in Antigua and Barbuda, The University of the West Indies (The UWI) was well-represented by a delegation of over 25 leaders and academics from the region. These experts, coming from various disciplines, highlighted The UWI’s standing as a leading global authority on SIDS. They played a crucial role in engaging in important conversations and proposing practical strategies to address the urgent issues facing SIDS. Notable insights were shared by The UWI experts.

According to Dr. Ronald Roopnarine from the Faculty of Food & Agriculture at the St. Augustine Campus, the fundamental issue of quality of existence for Small Island Developing States (SIDS) is closely tied to the establishment of strong economies. Dr. Roopnarine highlighted the importance of moving beyond mere subsistence and focusing on building resilient economies to ensure survival in the face of challenges like climate change.

Stressing the need for both external assistance and internal efforts to address the impacts of changing resource management approaches, Dr. Roopnarine remarked,” The quality of our existence hinges on establishing strong economies. While developmental aid is welcomed, building resilient economies is vital. At a regional level, we must also examine our own contributions to the challenges we face.”

Dr. Jan Yves Remy, Director of the Sir Shridath Ramphal Centre at The UWI, Cave Hill Campus, emphasized the necessity of cross-sectoral collaboration in advancing the green trade agenda. She highlighted the importance of different stakeholders, including climate, shipping, environment, and trade experts, coming together to address climate-related challenges effectively. To formulate solutions, from her perspective, “Climate people need to talk to shipping people, need to talk to people in the environment, need to talk to people in the trade.

Meanwhile, for professor Michelle Mycoo, Programme Coordinator of the Urban and Regional Planning Programme at the Department of Geomatics Engineering and Land Management, The UWI St Augustine Campus, the power of data and digital technologies for resilience is at the forefront. She championed the adoption of the Climate Vulnerability and Resilience Index, and highlighted the importance of leveraging data and digital technologies. However, Mycoo pointed out the necessity of addressing research and data deficiencies concerning the informal sector. Additionally, she acknowledged the need to quantify adaptation efforts to assess their effectiveness and social cost-benefit, in order to gain a clearer understanding of the region’s ability to progress towards resilience.

UWI experts at SIDS

“Equally important is the need for SIDS to build the capacity to absorb adaptation funding as it becomes available. Securing these funds while simultaneously developing local institutional capacity is essential for fostering resilience to the impacts of climate change,” said Christian Virgil, a PhD student at The UWI St. Augustine Campus.

Taking a bottom-line approach,  he pointed out the significant funding gap of approximately EUR 300 billion needed to address the adaptation deficit in vulnerable SIDS. Virgil stressed the importance of not only accelerating international funding efforts but also building local institutional capacity to effectively utilize and absorb adaptation funding for enhancing resilience to climate change impacts.

The recent SIDS4 Conference underscored the ongoing need for collaboration, funding, and innovative approaches to tackle the unique challenges faced by small island developing states in combating climate change. The University of the West Indies (UWI) is actively involved in driving research, education, and policy development to support these efforts.

According to a statement released by the university,  initiatives such as the Caribbean Climate Science Workshop Series and the upcoming Climate Education Summit the goal is advancing climate science competencies,  while fostering resilience, and promoting collaboration with regional and international partners in the fight against climate change.

“A Caribbean Climate Science Workshop Series is set to take place at The UWI Mona Campus from June 10 to 21, 2024. The series comprises: a Detection and Attribution Science Workshop (June 10-14); Climate Information Education and Tools (CLIE’nT) Workshop (June 17); and Caribbean Summer Workshop on Introductory Modelling (CSWIM) (June 18-21). Looking ahead, The UWI’s Global Institute for Climate Smart and Resilient Development (GICSRD) is planning a Climate Education Summit later this year. This summit will focus on formal and informal climate education initiatives across schools and higher education institutions,” the statement specified.

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