There is hope for Barbados and rest of the Caribbean when it comes to tackling the issues of climate change and building a more resilient region.
However, Executive Director of the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) Ronald Jackson, said it will demand more urgent and accelerated action from every government and their citizens with greater focus on dealing directly with vulnerabilities and exposures.
“There is hope,” Jackson told a gathering at the Errol Barrow Centre for Creative Imagination on Saturday night for the premiere of three Caribbean eco-films.
He said the economically struggling Caribbean was already facing dangerous exposure levels to the effects of climate change, lamenting that more extreme weather conditions should be expected in the future even if developed countries stopped their emissions today.
He said the fight would require way more than advocacy.
“We are being called on to recommit, reengage, reimagine, reengineer our mindsets and reemerge a resilient society,” he said.
Jackson warned that as focus was being placed on clean energy and energy security, regional leaders also had a duty to their residents to ensure “a more balanced approach” with greater emphasis on strengthening of the region’s capacity for responding to disasters.
“We have to swing the pendulum back to centre and use the opportunity that an investment in energy security and sustainability can provide to allow us to invest in the resilience building efforts within our members states, driving down vulnerability and reducing exposure,” he said.
“The challenge is here and now and we must not repeat the failures of the past. We cannot allow to be paralyzed by the fear of the present or the future,” he warned.
“Our future survival in a safe and more prosperous environment will require bold, courageous, creative, transformative leadership at every level of the society, not just at the level of our prime ministers and presidents. It will require every member of our society to provide leadership in the fight going forward,” he said.
The CDEMA boss said the process of mitigation would require improved policies, regulations, plans and programmes that could build awareness of the risks, and help to change lifestyles and practices in order to reduce those risks.
He said it would also require the needs of the most vulnerable in society to be addressed and that the natural environment was protected including coastal and marine eco-systems.
“We have to ensure that all new structures, investments and housing are undertaken in ways that enable them to withstand natural shocks and sustain future economic development through the implementation and reinforcement of building standards,” he added
“It will also require us to rethink our density regimes in some of the small island states. You may have to go up because of the margin of land size . . . we have to invest in regional mechanisms that can efficiently and effectively respond to emergencies and catastrophes,” he said.
The three attention grabbing and heart-touching films – De Fisheries, One Storm Away and Island Strong – spoke of the changes in the fisheries industry in Barbados and the impact of the storms from last year’s hurricane season on the region.
The green carpet event, entitled Climate Change: Here and Now, was a collaboration between the BlueGreen Initiative Inc (BGI), the Embassy of Argentina in Barbados and the Resource Management and Environmental Studies (CERMES) in an effort to bring greater awareness of the impact of disasters and the impact of climate change.
Ambassador of Argentina to Barbados Gustavo Pandiani said the issue of climate change should be of concern to every citizen.
“To solve this problem requires not only engaging the issue with an open mind, but especially to engage it with an open heart. We are talking about real people, and a lot of people are suffering already because the climate change impact on our societies. The change starts here and now,” he said.