Saint Lucia is one of many Caribbean countries building on the 2015 Paris Climate Talks by promoting climate change adaptation and mitigation, in a disaster-prone region.
The small island nations of the Eastern Caribbean are already reeling from the impacts of climate change. In recent years, the countries have experienced more intense storms, longer and harsher droughts, and more frequent floods—disasters that claim lives and take a toll on their economies.
Sustainable development officials are hoping to build on the buzz created from the 2015 Paris Climate Talks and are taking the climate change message to communities across the country.
They want young people in particular to take up the mantle. Youth leader Snaliah Mahal says the youth of the Caribbean need to grasp the important role they play in tackling issues of climate change.
“Are we doing sufficient work? Are we involved in our community groups? Are we speaking to our ministers? And I would say the CYEN for example, has taken that baton and we hope that other young people would follow us and be that example for everybody. Because if we do not take on that message, the future that we want will not be there in 20, 25, 50 years from now,” said Mahal of the Caribbean Youth Environment Network.
Saint Lucia’s Chief Sustainable Development and Environment Officer Crispin d`Auvergne says he is hoping that the ministry’s efforts at engagement, such as a series of community, town hall-style meetings will also result in behavior change regarding the environment.
According to d’Auvergne, “Many of us are starting to understand that by turning off lights and so on, when we’re not using them, when we’re not in the room, that can help to reduce our emissions, but I think there’s a lot more that we can do that we have not necessarily taken on board, not necessarily internalized. In order words, there has not been that much of a fundamental change in our behavior, in our attitudes and I think that is what will make a difference if we have to address climate change.”
Almost half of the world’s 41 Small Island Developing States (SIDS) are in the Caribbean. Those nations have been calling for increased ambition on climate change for over 25 years.
World leaders are expected to attend a signing ceremony on April 22 for the climate agreement that was reached in Paris in December. The event is scheduled for the United Nations Headquarters in New York and coincides with the observance of Earth Day.
Sustainable Development officials say while the signing is important, action on the ground is what is required to protect the small islands of the Caribbean.
Credit: TeleSur TV