Climate-change negotiators representing each of the small island states across the Caribbean have been encouraged to share the information coming out of the European Capacity Building Initiative (ECBI) for Regional Training Workshop for the Caribbean.
The advice was given by Secretary for Infrastructure, Quarries, and the Environment Kwesi Des Vignes as he addressed the negotiators during the opening of the workshop at the Magdalena Grand Beach and Golf Resort last Wednesday.
DesVignes told the 25 participants a big part of the workshop was "levelling the playing field," adding that he was looking forward to the results and the fact that people can speak up and speak out.
“The reality is that we have to find ways to get the facts across to each and every person, and it's not only about the data and the science. Yes, the science is there, yes, the data is there. But we must be able to empower people at different levels with the right information, point them in the right direction and I think you all are here as catalysts for your different countries.
"You’re not here to bolster your own knowledge base so that you alone are able to carry the thought forward. You are here as a tool, a tool to empower people in your different communities across the Caribbean countries, across different countries, as a matter of fact, so that you can empower people with the right information. Because one person speaking out is not going to be enough. It's going to be about the masses, all 70 million people across the Caribbean and beyond.”
Speaking with Newsday after the launch, CEO of Environmental Research Institute, Charlotteville (ERIC) Aljoscha Wothke said it was important for Tobago to host the conference, as it shone a light on the urgency of climate change negotiations.
“We as small island states are extremely vulnerable, much more vulnerable than other, larger countries.
“Climate change is not something that is somewhere else, it is affecting us on a daily basis,” he said.
Asked about the benefits expected to be derived, Wothke said it is hoped that the negotiators from TT are trained, in addition to the other 23 present, and would be able to interact with other countries.
“It’s a mutual exchange of knowledge, lessons learnt and experience in negotiations,” he said, offering advice for the man in the street.
“Climate change seems like something we cannot influence…However, it is something like – your body will be sick, but you cannot directly influence something like cancer. But you can change your lifestyle to make it less effective and have less impact on your body.
"This is the same thing for climate change. You can change your lifestyle in order to mitigate against the effects of climate change…whether we cut down the trees on the shoreline, where do we build, how do we use our water, how do we prepare for hurricanes or storms,” he said.
Wothke said the training was funded by the European Union through Oxford University to put countries on a more equal level in negotiations.
The workshop was organised into six thematic sessions: the science of climate change, the politics of climate change under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, loss and damage due to climate impacts, mitigation and the nationally determined contributions, climate finance and transparency under the Paris agreement. It ended last Thursday.