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55+ Caribbean COP28 stories from Dubai

Our Caribbean Journalism Mentor - Hipolito Novelo - reflects on his experience with our fellows at COP28 in Dubai.

As I sit down to pen my thoughts on the incredible experience we had during COP 28 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE), it’s hard not to be overwhelmed by the whirlwind of activities, negotiations, discussions, and stories that unfolded in Expo City. For many of us, including myself, it would be our first time in the UAE.

The agonising long flights would be compensated by experiencing a mesmerising city with a futuristic skyline and a rich, cultural heritage and being at the forefront of climate negotiations. 

I’ll be honest. I was a bit nervous. I was overwhelmed. But, I was also excited. I was excited to meet my Climate Tracker family. This would be the first time I would be meeting any of them in person. Together, we embarked on a collective mission to delve deep into the heart of climate-related challenges and solutions. 

This year Climate Tracker funded 21 journalists from across the world to report on COP28, both in-person and virtually. 

In the lead-up to the COP28, our Caribbean Fellows embarked on a successful seven-week online pre-COP training program. During this training, they honed their skills and deepened their understanding of critical environmental issues. The fellows engaged in a series of public regional webinars.

Catch our COP28 Caribbean stories here.

They learned from experts in fields such as climate science, policy frameworks, environmental justice, the socio-economic impacts of climate change on the Caribbean region and most importantly, how to cover COP. Guest speakers included Director of Climate Analytics Rueanna Haynes and Sasha Jattansingh who spoke on Loss and Damage. Throughout the training, there was an exchange of ideas which motivated the fellows to do awesome work at COP28. 

I’m proud of the way our Caribbean COP28 Fellows showcased the diversity and depth of the region’s journalistic talent. We had two online fellows, Richie Ferrol and Jarrel de Matas, and four in-person fellows: Vishani Ragobeer, Kelesha Williams, Stefanie Lauchman, and Kalain Hosein. Each one of them is an excellent journalist in their own right.

From insightful discussions on the intricacies of climate policies to on-the-ground stories that painted vivid pictures of local impacts, each fellow brought something special to the table. For instance, one of Jarrel’s first stories was published ahead of COP28. He had the foresight to report on the importance of the Loss and Damage fund, which was launched on the first day of COP28.

Richie also focused on loss and damage and how crucial it is for countries like Dominica. Read more here.

While Jarrel and Richie were on the other side of the world, they made every effort to keep up-to-date with the latest developments at COP28, a truly impressive feat. Their dedication was further amplified by the on-the-ground support they received, showcasing the power of teamwork.

Meeting the in-person fellows was equally exciting. Some of them I’ve worked with in the previous months, so seeing them in action confirmed what I always thought of them: they are excellent journalists.

It was great to see the fellows from the different regions meet each other and share opinions and stories. The morning meetings we had at the media centre in Expo City brought together the CT family. We created a safe place for fellows to express themselves without judgement or criticism. We were there to support and encourage them. These are bright journalists and it was interesting to see them interact with each other. 

What brought them together is the fact that the effects of climate change are affecting their own country. And, while it might be different countries they all had similar experiences. It showed the massive impact that climate change is having on the Caribbean region. 

Our initiative to document the COP28 journey through podcasts was an immersive experience. We explored the nuances of climate change through the lens of the journalists. These podcasts not only captured the spirit of COP28 but also created a lasting record of our collective commitment to environmental stewardship. 

Tune in to our Caribbean Climate Calabash podcast on Spotify | Apple Podcasts | YouTube Podcasts | Google Podcasts

In the age of digital connectivity, social media played a crucial role in amplifying our impact. We provided daily updates along with captivating visuals. Snippets of our fellows’ stories flooded our social media platforms. 

Check out Stefanie, the very first Surinamese journalist to ever report live at a UNFCCC COP! 

As we navigated the bustling COP arena, we encountered challenges and triumphs, frustrations and breakthroughs. 

One of the things that the fellows appreciated was the safe space that we created for them. Creating a space for the fellows to share their published stories was a gratifying aspect of our journey. Each article was a testament to their dedication, research, and the impact of their work. 

Vishani, for instance, focused on carbon markets in particular the lack of progress on developing carbon markets. Vishani reported that the disappointment expressed by Guyana’s Vice President underscores the economic significance Guyana attributes to carbon markets. The perceived hindrance in market development may impact Guyana’s economic strategies linked to environmental initiatives. Read more here.

Meanwhile, Stefanie reported on the controversial statement made by COP president COP28 President Sultan Al Jaber. He faced immediate criticism from climate activists who expressed concerns about the impact of his leadership on the conference. Al Jaber was brave enough to say that there is no basis for phasing out fossil fuels. Read more here.

And while there were controversies and disappointments, there was also some good news. As reported by Kalian, green hydrogen and renewable energy are coming to the Caribbean. He highlighted the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between ANSA McAL Limited and Kenesjay Green Limited (KGL) at COP28 in Dubai. It ushered in a new era for green energy development in the Caribbean. Read more here.

On the other hand, Kelesha drew focus on the severe climate challenges facing the Caribbean, with a particular focus on Jamaica’s year-long drought and the urgent need for sustainable solutions. She effectively communicated the gravity of the situation, incorporating insights from key figures, experts, and regional leaders. Read more here.

These stories matter. These journalists matter. 

Our collective efforts, from podcasts to live discussions and social media engagement, have not only amplified the urgency of climate action but have also left an indelible mark on the landscape of climate journalism. COP28 was not just a conference; it was a journey of personal and professional growth, a testament to the power of collaboration, and a reaffirmation of our shared responsibility to safeguard our planet. 

And before you go, check out this Reel my colleague, Dizzanne Billy, did to wrap up our COP28 experience.


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Hipolito Novelo

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