The World Bank estimates that without climate-informed development in Latin America and the Caribbean, another 2.6 million people in the region could slide into extreme poverty by 2030. This would be due largely to the health impact of climate change and the effect of warmer temperatures on worker productivity.
This was disclosed yesterday at the opening of the International Climate Change Conference in the Caribbean, by UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) Executive Director Diane Quarless. The conference was held at Trinidad Hilton, St Ann’s.
Quarless said climate change is real and after visits to Barbuda, Dominica, Anguilla and St Maarten, in preparation for ECLAC’s damage and loss assessment missions, she said the devastation, dislocation and misery brought by Hurricanes Irma and Maria were simply mind-boggling and heart-wrenching.
“Their homes, lives and livelihoods reduced to rubble. I still have in my mind’s eye huge trees from Dominica’s natural forests, stripped of their bark, branches and leaves by the fiercely rushing waters of rivers in spate creating an incredible log jam in the heart of Roseau. Cars carried by wind and water over bridges and roads, reduced to scrap metal. It is hard to comprehend the force of nature that could create these phenomena.”
Quarless said the conference this week is aimed at raising the level of public awareness across the subregion and beyond regarding the work currently being undertaken in the Caribbean to tackle climate change head on, to address key related issues such as the impact of climate change on sustainable development, and the need to explore innovative sources of climate financing to meet the cost of adaptation across the subregion. She said the conference is also therefore timely and urgent.
She said climate change is also expected to increase the intensity and frequency of droughts in the Caribbean, and there is a need to enhance the capacity to deal with the challenge if there are to ensure food security for people of the subregion.
Quarless said ECLAC has undertaken substantive research and focused economic assessments of the challenge which climate change poses to the economies of the Caribbean, providing a framework completed with data, parameters and other measures that can be used to inform economic policy dialogue in responding to the challenge over the medium term.