Castries, Saint Lucia (Friday March 19th, 2021) – The UWI Open Campus Saint Lucia, in collaboration with the GEF Small Grants Programme UNDP, recently hosted its 4th Country Conference under the theme “Visioning Sustainable Futures – Confronting the Threats of Climate Change and Climate Variability” which provided a platform to share existing research and disseminate information on Saint Lucia.
Commenting on the close of the 3-day conference, UWI Open Campus Saint Lucia’s Head of Site (Ag), Mrs. Lesley Crane-Mitchell, opined that “while it was our 4th Country Conference, it was our very first virtual conference. We are happy that we were able to stage it successfully over the three-day period, achieving our goal of sharing research unique to Saint Lucia while simultaneously contributing to the regional and global climate change discourse”.
Pleased with the success of the conference, the National Coordinator of the GEF Small Grants Programme, UNDP, Giles Romulus stated that “The conference provided a valuable nexus with the broader GEF SGP UNDP Knowledge Fair ideation component, with its solution oriented approach to existing and looming environmental threats which must be urgently addressed if Saint Lucia is to have any chance of achieving a sustainable future”.
The conference’s Opening ceremony was addressed by renowned climate change champion Dr. James Fletcher, who not only took the audience through the genesis of climate change and its impact on Saint Lucia and the region, but also systematically laid out a range of possible solutions that could be applied at the governmental policy level as well as by the average individual in their daily lives.
Day one of the conference consisted of presentations by a stellar list of local, regional and international experts and agencies, who although presenting rigorous, ongoing scientific research, did so in a manner that the lay man could appreciate, and which encouraged public interaction and discourse with the presenters.
Day two of the conference saw presentations focused on a range of climate change related topics including “Historical and Future trends in Climate Related Hazards” by Dr. Cedric Van Meerbeeck (Caribbean Institute for Meteorology and Hydrology); “Climate Change and Economic Development Implications for SIDS – The Case of Saint Lucia” by Dr. Clarence Henry (OECS Commission, Saint Lucia); “Saint Lucia’s Climate Policy Environment – Towards Concrete Action” by Mrs. Dawn Pierre Nathoniel (Department of Sustainable Development, Saint Lucia); The Impact of Climate Change on Fisheries and Aqua Culture by Ms. Makeba Felix (Department of Fisheries, Saint Lucia), and Climate Change and Neotropical Pollinators – The State of Knowledge, Policies and Programmes in Caribbean Small Island States” by Dr. Lena Dempwolf (Planning Division of the Ministry of Planning and Development of Trinidad and Tobago).
The day’s proceedings ended with a unique presentation by Shareed Mohmmed, PhD Candidate in the Literatures in English Programme which focused on the work of novelist Wilson Harris, father of UWI Vice Chancellor Emeritus, Professor E. Nigel Harris. His presentation brought the more spiritual side of climate change to the fore, reminding all that climate change is as much a religious and spiritual challenge as it is a scientific, political and economic one.
The conference concluded on day three with a sectoral focus on Fisheries, Forestry, Health, and Energy. The first presentation was by Dr. Shelly Ann Cox (UWI Centre for Resource Management and Environmental Studies) on the topic “Climate Change Impacts on the Caribbean Fisheries Sector”, followed by Ms. Shanna Emmanuel’s contribution on “Climate Change and Knowledge Platforms (OECS Commission, Saint Lucia): Ms. Nicole La Force – Hayes (Department of Forestry, Saint Lucia) presentation on Sustainable harvesting of the Lasan (Incense) Tree; Ms. Bethia Thomas’ (PhD Candidate (CERMES) UWI, Cave Hill) presentation on Adaptation Planning for Pelagic Sargassum Influxes in the Eastern Caribbean: a Saint Lucia Case Study.
The final presentation of the day was made by Mr. Crispin D’Auvergne (OECS Commission, Saint Lucia) on “The Eastern Caribbean Solar Challenge.”
Mrs. Crane-Mitchell concluded that the conference was “altogether an enlightening three days, highlighting the urgent need for aggressive climate change mitigation in Saint Lucia and the wider Caribbean, while providing local and regional beacons of hope within an often bleak global climate change context.”