Climate Change a Developmental Issue for the Caribbean

by Linda Straker

Climate change is a major developmental issue for the Caribbean, and one social entrepreneur believes some adaptation and mitigation measures will require legislative approval as a means of forcing people to take action.

“Look at Cuba, when there is a pending natural disaster such as a hurricane approaching, the people know exactly what has to be done and that is why when there is a disaster no one dies,” said Climate Change consultant, Una May Gordon.

Gordon, who has years of experience providing advice and engaging in discussion about climate change, said that as a developmental issue, governments in the Caribbean have to come up with solutions to deal with the challenges of climate change, but it will take a commitment from the communities to ensure that it works.

“For us in the region, the issue of adaptation is really what we are concentrating on, and therefore adaptation needs to take place at the level of communities, because it will affect livelihoods. Communities are at the heart of the issue, and it’s a real issue. Climate change is a development issue because it touches on every sector,” she said.

She advised that when decision-makers are crafting solutions for adaptation, they must take into consideration the building of partnerships with affected communities. Using women as an example, she said that in most communities, women are heads of households, “…and therefore are more likely the most vulnerable of the lot when we have issues of climate change. They are the providers, they are the nurturers, and therefore they need to be treated as such. The treatment of women and the issue of gender and gender justice is something that must be taken into consideration, and cannot be a sidebar,” she said.

The Inter-American Development Bank projects the cost of inaction to deal with the issues of climate change would be as high as US$22 billion by 2050.

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