In 2010, the year when Haiti faced a deadly earthquake, the Jamaican economist Norman Girvan, who has just died, analysed a series of peer-reviewed studies suggesting a link between higher sea surface temperature and storm frequency in the North Atlantic Ocean. What he sought to explain is the difficulty for an economist to simply analyze data without using a broader perspective.
Let’s take the case of Jamaica. It has signed about 19 environmental treaties and protocols since 1991, and will participate in the 4th Small Islands Developing States ( SIDS ) Conference, September 2014, in Samoa. In preparation for this event, an inter-sessional meeting has just started this week (April 21-24th) to address key issues of particular relevance to the SIDS. These include the need for finance and technology, so that islands can make a smooth transition to the Green Economy; the need for sustainable agriculture; and how to address the burden of debt, especially important for states like Jamaica.
Evaluation is long overdue. States like Jamaica which signed the Barbados Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States (BPOA), need to assess what action has taken place. The Samoa conference can be a turning point in terms of making serious decisions and agreeing strategies which require a regional approach. For Jamaica and the Caribbean states this will need leadership at the CARICOM ( Caribbean Community ) level.
The most recent assessment report (AR5) from the International Panel on Climate Change confirms a high confidence that climate change will lead to extreme high sea level impact; however, the chapter focused on SIDS demonstrates how difficult it is to draw a direct connection with climate change for these islands. This topic will be the subject of our next blog dealing with the case of two small Commonwealth islands, based on the latest data from this report.
By Clara Rachel Casseus, Ramphal Istitute Research Associate
Girvan, Norman (2010) Are Caribbean Countries Facing Existential Threat?
IPCC (2013) Summary for Policymakers. In: Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Stocker, T.F., D. Qin, G.-K. Plattner, M. Tignor, S.K. Allen, J. Boschung, A. Nauels, Y. Xia, V. Bex and P.M. Midgley (eds.)]. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA.
Moore, W.R. (2010) “The impact of climate change on Caribbean tourism demand”, Current Issues in Tourism, 13(5), pp.495-505.
Witter, Michael (2013) Jamaica: Achievements since Barbados, 1994, and new Challenges for Samoa, 2014 – Synthesis Document for the SIDS National Preparatory Process, UNDP/ Jamaican Government, 53p.
Africans are paying a “super tax” to send remittances home, because of the high charges imposed by two of the world’s leading money transfer operators –Western Union and MoneyGram. This is the conclusion drawn by the Overseas Development Institute, a London based think-tank, which carried out an extensive study of the cost of remittances paid by diaspora communities from developing countries.
Remittances from diaspora communities play an increasingly important role in supporting the welfare of communities left behind, and they have become a key source of external resource flows for developing countries. According to the latest issue of the World Bank’s Migration and Development Brief, these funds now exceed official development assistance and are more stable than private debt and portfolio equity flows. But a major development institute in London has warned that the benefits of remittance transfers to Africa are lost as a result of the high charges imposed by two of the leading money transfer operators –MoneyGram and Western Union.
This year, remittances to developing countries are expected to top $436 billion and by 2016, are projected to rise to $516 billion. India receives the highest level of remittances, with $70 billion in 2013, while Nigeria is also a large recipient, receiving $21 billion. These funds support education, health, education, food security and productive investment in agriculture and in many developing countries, they surpass earnings from major exports.
In a report issued to coincide with the World Bank’s Brief, the Overseas Development Institute stated that the African diaspora now pay 12% to send $200 – almost double the global average. The report states that “ in effect, Africans are paying a remittance ‘super tax’. Reducing charges to world average levels and to the 5% target would increase transfers by $1.8 billion annually. That figure would pay for the education of some 14 million primary school age children in sub-Saharan Africa –half of the out-of-school total; improved education for 8 million people or clean water for 21 million.
Sources: www.odi.org/remittances-africa & http://blogs.worldbank.org/peoplemove/
Written by Patsy Robertson, Ramphal Institute, Chair
The paper describes issues relating to migration, brain drain and diasporas in Commonwealth countries, drawing on work undertaken for the Ramphal Commission on Migration and Development, 2009-2011. It concludes that the official Commonwealth, managed by the Commonwealth Secretariat, finds it hard to promote key development strategies due to shortage of personnel and funds, disagreements among its members, and a plethora of demands.
Presented by Richard Bourne