TWO high-level meetings hosted by the government of Saint Lucia in collaboration with the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), came to an end on Thursday, at the Bay Gardens Hotel.
The gathering brought together a team of negotiators and Ministers responsible for placing the region’s concerns on climate change at the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Paris in December of this year.
Fresh from climate discussions in Lima, Peru, the first assembly—Monday and Tuesday—saw the region’s negotiators sift through mounds of pertinent information so as to arrive at the most appropriate proposals that would arm Ministers to take on the challenge that lies ahead.
Ideally, the negotiators forum was meant to ensure that the region’s Ministers are apprised of the critical political choices that will have to be made in the upcoming negotiations.
When the Ministers joined the discussions on Wednesday and Thursday, the negotiators, who had remained far beyond the prescribed closing time on both days, were in high spirits and equipped to brief them.
Ministers were introduced to the functioning and operations of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) negotiating processes and the areas that require ministerial intervention. The status of climate change negotiations, including key issues under negotiations, key decisions already taken, and outstanding decisions to be taken come December 2015 were discussed. Moreover, Ministers were briefed on the priority political actions required at the level of the state which would in turn accelerate national and regional responses to climate change. Actions include but are not limited to discussions on national determined contributions, climate finance, national adaptation plans, the technology mechanism and the Kyoto Protocol.
Speaking to the significance of the meetings, Minister responsible for Sustainable Development, Environment, Energy, Science and Technology, and Chair of the Ministers’ forum, Senator Dr. James Fletcher, says climate finance is a major issue in the negotiations for climate change.
“There is a pledge of US$100 billion worth of climate finance by the year 2020 and US$100 billion every year thereafter and we’re very far short of this. At the last pledging meeting for the Green Climate Fund (GCF), I think we were just past US$10 billion. Now granted the GCF is not the only source of financing for climate finance, but we’re still very far short of US$100 billion. We want to see a pathway that will get us to that US$100 billion, because it is very important for us.”
Dr. Fletcher, one of the more prominent voices and advocates for the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) and the Small Island Developing States (SIDs) at the level of international climate change negotiations, is of the thinking that investments in various sectors such as tourism, infrastructure, and health, will allow Saint Lucia a measure of resilience and the ability to withstand some of the impacts of climate change. But there are areas, says Dr. Fletcher, where adaptation is not possible due to irreversible loss and damage. As an example, the minister points to coral reefs that are disappearing because of increased sea surface temperatures and ocean acidification.