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.