CASTRIES, Saint Lucia – Civil society leaders are calling for an important climate change body to be located in the Caribbean island nation of Barbados.
Richer countries were urged to join developing nations in supporting the siting of the headquarters of the proposed Global Adaptation Fund in Barbados by Lelei TuiSamoa LeLaulu, president of the Island Nations Climate and Oceans Program and director of the Caribbean Media Exchange (CMEx).
“It makes all sorts of sense because island nations contribute the least to climate changing emissions yet suffer the most from its excesses through sea-level rise and extreme weather patterns which devastate islands and their fragile economies. So, we need to ensure the body set up to help small island and other developing nations cope with climate change is actually in the developing world.”
The 44 members and observers of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) at the Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen are pressing for the Adaptation Fund to be located in a small island country as an indication of the seriousness of the challenges they face with global warming.
Bonn has been proposed by the German government but island leaders point out the city on the River Rhine already has 17 United Nations institutions and question if it would be the best home for the Climate Change Adaptation secretariat, a body critical to the survival of so many island nations.
Dr. Noel Brown, president of the Friends of the United Nations, asserted, “those of us who observed its performance during the negotiations for the Climate Convention could not help but be impressed by the sophistication and eagerness of Barbados to find the right balance among competing and often conflicting interests. Since then it has been widely recognized as an island leader on the climate challenge.”
Dr. Brown, former North American Director of the UN Environment Programme, declared Barbados “will be a dynamic center for innovation and experimentation – a kind of laboratory in the adaptation field.”
Dr. Basil Springer, Change-Engine Consultant with the Caribbean Business Enterprise Trust, which incubates and shepherds entrepreneurs, concurred Barbados with its vibrant private sector could ensure climate change adaptation is well understood not only by governments and island citizens, “but we also have a duty to educate small island business communities on the commercial opportunities of the program.”
“We have been calling for the creation of an Adaptation Fund that would assist AOSIS countries in particular in adapting to the climate change situation. The decision has already been taken to create the fund, but the next stage is to have it operational and located. We do expect a decision on the location at the Climate Change Conference,” Dr. Christopher Hackett, Barbados’ Ambassador to the United Nations told the Barbados Nation.
Backed by the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the other members of AOSIS, Barbados has entered the race for the fund’s secretariat which the small island states are pressing the international community to establish to help them cope with global warming problems.
In addition to its policy importance, the proposed climate change adaptation secretariat will be responsible for disbursing hundreds of millions of dollars, depending on what the world’s rich nations decide at the Copenhagen conference this week.