COP28 and Caribbean interests

The majority of the discussions which centre on Caribbean needs and wants hinge on two topics: 1) loss and damage and 2) adaptation and mitigation.

Last year’s COP had a significant focus on the input of indigenous groups regarding climate change and the most effective ways to mitigate the impacts without doing further damage to coastal communities and their environments. This is a sentiment that is echoed throughout the Caribbean and the various entities which represent its interests.

As a region with low-lying areas that are increasingly susceptible to erratic weather patterns brought on by the climate crisis, the topic of climate change is one the Caribbean knows all too well. With weather patterns becoming more severe and unpredictable, the impact to Caribbean people’s livelihoods has been felt across the region. The decisions made at COP28, taking place in Dubai from 30 Nov. to 12 Dec., will influence how the Caribbean is able to handle these changes and threats, whilst also demonstrating the dedication global partners have to the wellbeing of the global south in the climate crisis.

The majority of the discussions which centre on Caribbean needs and wants hinge on two topics: 1) loss and damage and 2) adaptation and mitigation.

Loss and damage seeks to discuss acquiring climate funding for the Caribbean communities which have been negatively impacted by climate change, despite being one of the smallest contributors to the issue. Through loss and damage discussions, those most responsible for the crisis can be held accountable and asked to make tangible contributions to the communities most affected.

Adaptation and mitigation focuses on introducing methods and tools to the community. This creates increased resilience against natural disasters, weather changes and environmental fluctuations which can be (and have been) otherwise devastating. Through adaptation and mitigation, Caribbean communities are able to recognise the trend of increasing global temperatures and still protect their ways of life through sustainable practices.

During COP27, the major success for many small island developing states was the establishment of the United Nations Loss and Damage Fund. The fund’s purpose is to “provide financial assistance to nations most vulnerable and impacted by the effects of climate change”. While the fund’s existence has given some participants hope for how climate-finance issues will be handled in the coming years, there is still the matter of how it will be financed, the way in which it will be executed and who will receive funding. Participants at COP28 expect to see the fund discussed and organised to its fullest extent so that progress can be made in vulnerable nations.

Another significant event to be discussed at COP28 is the proposal submitted by the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) for the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) to host what is known as the Santiago Network. This network seeks to bring ‘technical assistance’ to the forefront of the loss and damage discussion and asks for these discussions to be spearheaded by the Caribbean Development Bank. As a community on the frontlines of the climate crisis, a dialogue such as this being facilitated by the the CDB would set a precedent for Caribbean countries steering conversations and taking charge in the international climate justice arena.

In matters as dynamic and varied as this, it is important to also examine professional opinion (specifically that of Caribbean professionals). Kristin Qui of regional data analysis firm Climate Analytics Caribbean, spoke with me to discuss the next steps for Caribbean nations at COP28 and what can be done to further our voices.

Qui is a firm believer in the power of collaboration for the Caribbean community, citing AOSIS as a main player in UN discussions which the Caribbean is a part of. She also references the Caribbean Natural Resources Institute (CANARI), which formulated the Caribbean Climate Justice Alliance, an organisation dedicated to the amplification of Caribbean issues on the world stage.

Both of these institutions reinforce the idea that the Caribbean is at its best when collaborating openly and with a common goal (in this case, climate justice). In regards to increased efforts or improvements to the systems already in place, Qui feels that all parties could do better with awareness raising and “connecting international efforts with local action”. 

Through groups such as AOSIS and CANARI, Caribbean initiatives can be spearheaded by those most impacted and therefore receive international attention through lobbies and international initiatives. Prime Minister Mia Mottley of Barbados is a great example of this amplification and putting forward tangible plans of action for the international community to take part in. 

Remaining informed about these processes allows the Caribbean community to truly strive for continued development and awareness, whilst also holding our representatives and elected officials accountable. With the legacy of natural disasters in the Caribbean and the increasing cost of living, maintaining momentum in the fight for climate justice will benefit all involved and the generations to come after them.


This story was published on Caymancompass.com with the support of the Caribbean Climate Justice Journalism Fellowship, which is a joint venture between Climate Tracker and Open Society Foundations.

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Aleigha General

Aleigha General

Aleigha General is a passionate International Relations student at the University of West London. She is driven by a desire to address pressing social issues in her region. Inspired by her recent experience at COP27, Aleigha is determined to raise awareness about sustainable practices and advocate for a better environment. With her storytelling skills and dedication, she aims to inspire change and become a powerful advocate for climate justice.

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