Dr Kenrick Leslie, CBE, Executive Director of the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre, addressed delegates at the UNFCCC COP 20/MOP 10 on December 12, 2014.
Dr Leslie's address focused on the Caribbean's successes in tackling Climate Change in spite of significant challenges and urged greater partnerships to address Climate Change.
Peruse Dr Leslie's "Partnering for success / Partnering for survival" speech and watch the Centre's Partnership Success Story feature video.
In a region plagued by vulnerabilities, recognizing fragility is easy. However, addressing this fragility is not as straightforward. Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community group of Nations took the bold step in 2002 and established a regional Centre whose mandate was simple – help us to address the impacts of climate change.
In its first years the Centre was little more than a few people in a small office at the National University in Belize. Within a decade its staff has grown fourfold, it is currently managing projects totalling over 40 million United States dollars, it implemented the first set of pilot adaptation projects globally and has been recognized as a Centre of Excellence. None of this could have been possible without the partnerships we forged over the years at the national, regional and international levels.
For a small institution with no government subvention to look forward to, the Centre had to look to other ways to build its capacity and to add value to the products that it would eventually develop. But there was another caveat, the Centre did not want to become a mammoth institution. This means we had to be deliberate, we had to evolve and we had to do this in conjunction with our sister institutions and other like-minded international bodies and donors. And we did. We have learned from each other and we have expanded our knowledge base across institutions.
The Centre is not an island onto itself. This augurs well for a climate change institution, where multidimensional threats cannot be addressed by a single entity. It requires objectivity and resources, but more importantly partnerships to transform attitudes, policies and the way we conduct our affairs to confront the challenges posed by climate change, while simultaneously exploiting the opportunities presented by this phenomenon.
And if I were to be retrospective I would say that the bold decision of the Heads, the deliberateness with which we would carve out a place for a Caribbean institution on Climate Change and the timeliness of it all, forged a remarkable institution. And for those to whom much is given, much more is required. We intend to scale up our demonstration projects in energy, water and agriculture, build a lasting alliance with other partners, establish a Trust Fund to guarantee the sustainability of the Centre’s work and continue what has served us so well in the past – working with others to develop a Region that is resilient to climate change.
If one were to take a cross section of speeches that have been delivered over the past two weeks, I would imagine that most have two essential points – let us develop and let us do it in the face of one of the greatest challenges of our time to the development aspirations of our regions and an existential threat to some of the countries we call home. This is no small request by any measure but for a group of nations whose very survival demands no less, then a plea must become a commitment.
As we continue to seek ways of adapting and innovating to the impacts of climate variability and change, we encourage partnerships and inter and intra-regional linkages with development partners, technical and academic institutions, and regional entities amongst others. The Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre is a committed partner. And we encourage you to join us in this approach. Our future generations require no less.