THE CARIBBEAN Democrat Union (CDU), in partnership with the Westminster Foundation for Democracy (WFD) hosted a Power Panel on “The Politics of Climate Change in the Caribbean” on Thursday 26th August, 2021. The event was hosted by MAria Laidlow, Vice Chair for Women and Minorities of the Caribbean Young Democrat Union (CYDU) and Consultant in Climate and Disaster Risk Management with the World Bank, a release states.
The panellists included: Ayesha Constable, Consultant in Climate Change and Adaptation, Jamaica; Bernard Hurtault, Interim Political Leader, Dominica Freedom Party; Luchiano Dupuis, Vice Chair Training and Recruitment CYDU, Dominica; Nick Francis, Secretary General CDU; St. Vincent and the Grenadines Constable gave an overview of the research project conducted within the CDU Network on the Politics of Climate Change. Among the key findings of the research study, Constable noted that youth are generally dissatisfied with the current action of political parties and are eager to see more robust, decisive actions on climate change. She also noted that youth believe political parties are taking a piecemeal and tokenistic approach to the issue rather than the inclusive and transformative approach required to make Caribbean countries more resilient.
Bernard Hurtault spoke more broadly to the importance of political leadership in building trust in scientific knowledge, particularly as it relates to climate change and its devastating impact. Hurtault also spoke to the importance of continued research on climate change at the local level and building the technical skills to complement our indigenous understanding. He also noted that Dominica, as the nature isle, is well positioned to be fully powered by green renewable energy sources and to diversify its economy through structural and regulatory reforms. This is important for economic growth and a positive shift in mind-set towards climate change adaptation and environmental protection.
Luchiano Dupuis noted that young people across the Caribbean need to be more focused on the climate change emergency. Dupuis also spoke about the need for political parties to move beyond climate change rhetoric during election cycles and to engage in meaningful consultations with youth to determine the best way forward in the decision making process. Issues on consumption patterns and waste management [were] also raised by Dupuis and he made a call for young people across the region to engage in greener and more environmentally friendly livelihood practices.
Nick Francis highlighted several challenges facing the Caribbean in the fight against climate change. At the international level, Francis noted the politics involved in the negotiation process at the UNFCCC and the need for Small Island Developing States (SIDS) to work together in lobbying for increased financing
in loss and damage to help recover from the shocks of climate related events in the region. At the regional level, greater collaboration and mainstreaming on adaptation policies will be essential. At the national and local levels, decisions based on political expediency undermine our progress in being able to mitigate and adapt to the climate change emergency; this is further compounded by an “instant gratification culture” that is heavily reliant on economic growth through business as usual practices.
The panellists also spoke to the need for continued dialogue on political decision making relating to climate change and called for continued education and awareness on these pressing issues.