THE conversation about climate change is not only taking place at the ongoing United Nations Conference of Parties (COP 21) in Paris but also in Saint Lucia.
Six months ago the Saint Lucia National Trust (SLNT) staged the World Wide Views (WWViews) on Climate and Energy Debate along with over 70 countries. This unique event gave 10, 000 people across the globe an opportunity to (i) learn more about climate change; (ii) discuss the key areas being debated at COP 21 (for example, tools to tackle climate change and fairness and distribution of efforts among others) and (iii) share their views with policy makers.
Although the Trust shared the WWViews results with the Ministry of Sustainable Development, Energy, Science and Technology it was essential to also disseminate it to participants, sponsors, the media and key stakeholders. To this end, a WWViews on Climate and Energy Results Report presentation was held last week at Coco Palm Hotel, Rodney Bay.
In opening remarks, SLNT’s Director Mr.BishnuTulsie explained why a heritage conservation organization is concerned about climate change. He said: “Human-induced climate change and its emerging and anticipated impacts pose an existential threat to mankind. Here I make a distinction between our planet and its inhabitants, because no matter what we do, the planet will evolve and adapt to any new conditions we impose on it. What climate change is projected to cause very soon, in planetary terms, are conditions which will not be supportive of life forms, livelihoods and living, as we know them today. These impacts are expected to result from loss of lands and fresh water resources from sea level rise, decreased food production capabilities, increased incidents of natural disasters and, health impacts, to name a few”.
Tulsie added: “Heritage conservation is about understanding the past and communicating it to the present to inform fashioning a sustainable future. Climate change is impacting the present and is expected to continue doing so, but there are important lessons from the past we can use to inform how we move forward. Our heritage, therefore, offers adaptation lessons we need to understand and communicate as part of the overall strategy to cope with the emerging and anticipated impacts of climate change”.
Subsequently, the audience viewed a video presentation from Mr. Crispin d’ Auvergne, Chief Sustainable Development and Environment Officer in the Ministry and one of Saint Lucia’s negotiators at COP 21. Additionally, the SLNT invited partners from the Caribbean Youth Environment Forum (CYEN Saint Lucia) and the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) to deliver presentations on their respective climate change initiatives in preparation for COP 21.
Chris Seayls, CYEN’s President explained the importance of his group’s “1.5 to Stay Alive” Campaign and the negative implications on small island developing states, like Saint Lucia if world leaders fail to come to an agreement which reduces greenhouse gas emissions to levels that will limit global temperature increases to below 2◦C. In the midst of the presentations, the audience was treated to a heartfelt and melodious performance of an original song dubbed “Song for the Environment” by Naomie ‘Ngozi’ Grandison.
Thereafter, Mrs. Joanna Octave-Rosemond, SLNT’s Programme Officer – Natural Heritage, presented the local results of WWViews on Climate and Energy. Two of the key results from the debate were that (i) most participants expressed grave concern about the issue of climate change as they believed that policy makers should take ambitious actions to deal with this phenomenon. Although many participants believed that climate change should be tackled primarily at a global level, it is worth noting that they also expressed a desire to take responsibility at a national level and (ii) the 74 Saint Lucians who participated in WWViews on Climate and Energy believed that the country should take action to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions even if other countries do not.
The Trust thanks the French Ministry of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy, East Caribbean Financial Holding, Consolidated Foods Limited, Coco Palm Resort, Rainforest Sky Rides and Felly Belly for their financial and in-kind support of the WWViews on Climate and Energy Project.