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UWI seeks to educate Caribbean leaders on climate change - Regional heads lacking urgency on global threat, says King

Published:Friday | June 24, 2016 | 12:00 AMChristopher Serju
Dr Damien King

Despite the technological and other advances since 1951, the political will to make the well-needed appropriate investments in climate change adaptation and mitigation policies and strategies remains a vitally important missing link in the development agenda of most regional states.

"We believe at this point that Caribbean leadership is not sufficiently seized of the urgency of the issue and are not acting towards it. So we are hoping to build a coalition of interests that's going to engage in gathering the information and making it available and working out what actions need to be taken, then bringing Caribbean leaders in a collective way towards a realisation that action has to be taken. So it's going to be a process. I can't give you a timetable but it's going to be a process," Dr Damien King, head of the economics department of the University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona campus, declared last week Tuesday.

King, one of four panellists hosting a press conference at the UWI regional headquarters following a forum on 'Leveraging the Sustainable Development Goals for an Energy Secure Caribbean', drew attention to the devastating price the region could end up paying if it fails to achieve this objective.

"We live on a collection of small islands in the Caribbean and ... the possible change in ocean temperatures and sea-level rise are going to affect the livelihoods of Caribbean people and Pacific islanders probably far more than any other region in the world. So from a sheer economic point of view, the potential of failure to address that SDG (sustainable development goal) to the literal sustainability, to the literal viability of Caribbean economies is quite scary," he warned.

However, Dr David Smith, who chaired a round-table discussion on sustainable development goals and Caribbean development, offered some hope that the stakeholder group spearheaded by the UWI, Mona, was working hard to get the message to all relevant target audiences.