10.03.2011 - UNESCO Social and Human Sciences

Saint Kitts and Nevis Conference calls for a shared Caribbean vision on climate change adaptation

From 8 to 9 March 2011, Saint Kitts and Nevis hosted a high-level meeting in Basseterre on “Climate Change Adaptation in the Caribbean: Science, Ethics and Policies.” The event, organized by UNESCO, in collaboration with the Government of Saint Kitts and Nevis and with the support of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation and of the Principality of Monaco, gathered regional experts, ministerial and governmental officials, Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) and Caribbean Community (CARICOM) representatives.

“May I say how very pleased I am to note the mix of expertise from across a wide range of related fields of endeavour; from distances near and far, who have converged here … for this most important meeting,” Hon. Sam Condor, Deputy Prime Minister of Saint Kitts and Nevis, stated in his the keynote address during the opening ceremony. “In a sense, this gives us the assurance that as specialists, you have come to terms with the fact that climate change, in all its dimensions, is serious; it is expanding and there is need for an urgent response. You make us proud; you make us all hopeful.”

The conference, which is the first of its kind in the region, served to develop a “shared vision” to enable the Caribbean region to mitigate and adapt to the damaging effects of climate change, which are especially acute in the small island developing states (SIDS) of the Caribbean, vulnerable to sea-level rise and natural disasters. It also started to identify specific challenges in the areas of science and adaptation with respect to which appropriately designed national and local policies can be developed, and pursued, at regional level with UNESCO expertise and support. Science-based monitoring and early warning systems, social science cooperation and education for sustainable development were, in particular, emphasized in the final communiqué.

“A number of strategic and Caribbean priorities emerged from this ministerial and expert’s conference focused on adaptation and mitigation policies in the face of dramatic consequences of climate change.” Hon. Nigel Carty, Minister of Education of Saint Kitts and Nevis, said. “The conference contributed to defining the parameters for a more rigorous and science-inspired adaptation and mitigation policy framework covering education, tourism, agriculture, coastal eco-systems and education. Ministers and experts recognized the unique expertise and experience that UNESCO brings to these questions from a social and human science perspective.”

Organized on the heels of the 16th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Basseterre meeting has also created the foundations for the articulation of a collective Caribbean response to its outcomes.

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