Turning Caribbean Islands into “Climate Smart Islands”

July 10th, 2015

by Anaitée Mills


Ambergris Caye sunrise, Photo Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons, author dfaulder

As a climate change adaptation consultant living and working in a small island developing State like Jamaica, I would like to reflect about some particular challenges that SIDS are facing today when it comes to sustainable development.

The truth is that small islands by no means are facing small problems. In order for SIDS to follow the pathway to sustainable development as it was agreed last year during the United Nations Third International Conference in Apia, Samoa, they would need to start by transforming and diversifying their energy sector. The economic impact of oil imports is taking a huge toll on everybody’s pocket. Jamaica is no exception to this reality; the country’s expenditure on oil imports represents close to 30% of its GDP and therefore posing a huge burden in terms of its dependency from foreign energy, something that has deep implications both in terms of dependency and energy security.

However, by transforming the energy sector we are not only talking about just increasing renewable energy generation, which of course is a very reasonable option but, let’s be honest, it is not going to happen tomorrow. It is also about changing consumption habits, improve efficiency, take a cross-sectoral approach and start thinking “efficiently”.

That is why I am so thrilled by the concept of “Smart Islands”; the idea is to utilize pilot islands such as Caye Caulker in Belize, Harbour Island in the Bahamas and Tobago in Trinidad & Tobago, as platforms to test and demonstrate ways of transitioning to a low carbon and climate resilient development pathway. In order to do this, islands would need to implement interventions that include climate resilient measures in sectors such as energy, water, waste treatment, tourism, fisheries, transport, and infrastructure, among others. The IDB in partnership with the Carbon War Room (CWR) is currently developing a “Caribbean Climate Smart Program” to examine priority sectors in which low carbon and climate resilient measures can be implemented and once tested, the idea is to scale up this comprehensive approach on a regional level to different islands of the Caribbean.

We need to “smarten” our islands and minimize the impending effects of climate change by taking aggressive yet sustainable  measures in all sectors and at all levels. It is now the time to think outside the box, and as world recognized genius Albert Einstein once said, “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.

To learn more about the Carbon War Room visit: www.carbonwarroom.com

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3 Responses to “Turning Caribbean Islands into “Climate Smart Islands””

  1. Emma Lewis says:

    This sounds like a great initiative and starting with very small islands as pilot schemes makes sense. However, I do hope that it progresses beyond the pilot stage later on. Also, I totally agree with you – this requires a complete change of mindset, as your Einstein quote perfectly expresses. And this takes a great deal of time! It may be that change will be forced on us in the Caribbean… I look forward to hearing more. I am glad to see the Carbon War Room is also supporting this initiative!

  2. john anthony says:

    Ralston Hyman the Jamaica economist loves to say “we need accurate and reliable information in order to build an economy.” So how does this applies to the climate change / global warming environment?? Well why are proonents demanding poor countries engage in mass retrofitting of their lives based on unproven claims? James Moss-Solomon claimed in the Observer years ago that Jamaica would have to swim for their lives. Al Gore and Obama and the IPCC claims we are facing an apocalypse from global warming. While these claims are making the news, most dark skin persons in the world are deficient in Vitamin D, a nutrient so powerful it is now being called a steroid hormone. So because Jamaicans are vitamin D defieient when viral diseases strike as Chick-V did the population has low immune defense. So which is more important? Unproven claims which the europeans are deceiving us to accept with the aid of funding or important scenarios which are devastating our people?

    Every weather destruction phenomenon from hurricanes to earthquakes have shown significant reduction in incidence and intensity over the past fifty years. Temperatures as measured by satellites have not increased in 20 years. And while Jeffrey Spooner says sea levels at Alligaor Pond has risen recently, he does not measure the results for the past 1000 years. I mean what madness is this? Is this science of a fallacy. You only measure results for fifty years and call the results definitive? 6000 years ago the world was covered with water, for those of us who believe the bible record. Today several parts of what was once covered with water, both poles and dozens of mountains are covered with ice and snow. So has those areas warmed up or cooled down??

    You do not believe the bible record? Well then believe archaeology Milions of sea shells have been documented to be on high land where the sea is thousands of miles away. How did they get there? Jamaicans are so brainwashed when the question was put to Michael Burke a journalist at the Observer, he remarked that someone must have dropped them there. So there you have it. The mental state of islanders have been c ompletely re-enslaved by the European Massas. And this time there will be no emancipation because this slavery now come with monetary benefits.

  3. john anthony says:

    Global warming is the greatest scam since Piltdown man. The science behind it is faulty and has failed every test of science. It shows the new emergence of a fallacious merging of religion with unproven scientific theories. How? Proponents rant about belief and prophetic predictions instead of double blind studies. Find me one double blind study that concluded that carbon dioxide drives temperature variations and then if you do explain how come for the past twenty years how temperatures have flatlined while carbondioxider has continued to increase in the atmosphere.