Tuesday, October 4, 2022

News of climate and political action around the Caribbean

 Climate Justice

 

  • Newsweek reports, “The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) approved nearly $13 billion in 2020 to help rebuild Puerto Rico's power grid after 2017's Hurricane Maria devastated the island, but the island's electricity system still remained vulnerable as Hurricane Fiona struck last week.” While money was allocated to rebuild the power grid, much of the funds were spent on emergencies. 

 

  • Homes with solar panels in Puerto Rico were the only ones with power at one point in time after hurricane Fiona caused power outages throughout the country. However, solar power is expensive for individuals. Advocates are now pushing for an electricity grid that provides solar power to communities. Mass News and Canary Media report.

 

  • Tyrell Gittens interviewed Dr Adelle Thomas from The Bahamas, climate change adaptation and loss and damage specialist with Climate Analytics-Caribbean, on loss and damage in Small Island Developing States on Climate Tracker’s Instagram.

 

  • Download this discussion paper called “The Loss and Damage Finance Facility, Why and How” by Climate Action Network (CAN) International and partners.

 

  • Karen McDonald Gayle, CEO of the Caribbean Biodiversity Fund (CBF), discusses the decisions made at the UN Ocean Conference (UNOC) in Portugal in June 2022, and the collaborative efforts expected to come out of the conference. The Jamaica Gleaner reports.

 

  • Jamaican marine scientist, climate professional and activist, Dani Nembhard spoke with former Jamaican Prime Minister Bruce Golding on #TheBridge99FM Jamaica Live.  This show also featured Senator Sophia Frazer-Binns, Shadow Minister on climate change, Professor Anthony Clayton, The Alcan Professor of Caribbean Sustainable Development at the University of the West Indies, and Dr Patricia Green, architect and conservationist.


  • German economic historian and activist, Matthias Schmelzer discusses on Twitter how colonialism and climate change vulnerability are related.


Environment

 

  • The Government of Grenada in collaboration with CANARI is conducting its first National Ecosystem Assessment (NEA). The NEA is a country-wide exploration that combines science and local knowledge to create effective policies to promote biodiversity and ecosystem services. Grenada is one of twelve countries doing ecosystem assessments with UNEP-WCMC’s National Ecosystem Assessment Initiative and is under the umbrella of UNDP’s Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services Network. UN Environment Programme reports.

 

Disaster Preparedness 

 

  • If you are vegan, stocking your hurricane supplies may be challenging. Forbes prepared a list of items to purchase for a nutritious plant-based diet during a disaster. 

 

Oil and Gas

 

  • President of the Transparency Institute of Guyana Inc (TIGI) Fredericks Collins and Godfrey Whyte, a citizen of Guyana, took the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to the High Court to enforce the liability clause in the permits issued to ExxonMobil Guyana for its offshore oil operations. Stabroek News reports that the litigants took the EPA to the court to ensure, “That the company takes full financial responsibility in case of harm, loss and damage to the environment. ExxonMobil’s local affiliate, Esso, has agreed in the permit to provide insurance and an unlimited parent company indemnity to cover all environmental loss and damage that might result from a well blowout, oil spill or other failures in the Liza 1 Development Project in Guyana’s Stabroek Block. Kaieteur News reported that Collins said, “I can’t even drive my car without insurance. So it is incomprehensible that the government would allow Esso to operate without any form of insurance/guarantee from its parent company.”

 

  • The Environmental Permit for the Liza Phase One Project explicitly states that Stabroek Block operator, Esso Exploration and Production Guyana Limited (EEPGL) along with its partners, Hess Guyana Exploration Limited and CNOOC Petroleum Guyana Limited must provide evidence that they, as well as their parent companies, would cover all costs associated with the clean-up of an oil spill offshore. Collins and Whyte approached the court because there was not any evidence that the companies are in compliance with the insurance provisions, Kaieteur News reports. 

 

  • While Guyana’s PPP/C government has been praised by stakeholders for its Local Content Legislation. New York-based attorney-at-law, Dr. Vivian Williams, notes that local content is not just merely about retaining a large chunk of the economic pie from petroleum production but could be used as a mechanism to ensure “lopsided distribution of wealth” to politically connected persons and groups, Kaieteur News reports. Williams also believes the Guyanese government is making an economic mistake by not renegotiating the 2016 deal that was signed with ExxonMobil affiliate, Esso Exploration and Production Guyana Limited. Kaieteur News reports.

 

  • International Lawyer, Melinda Janki does not believe politicians should negotiate contracts on behalf of Guyana, but should stick to instituting the correct legislative framework to manage the country’s respective sectors. Kaieteur News reports.


  • This opinion piece by the pen-named analyst, Peeping Tom questions why the people in Guyana are not protesting over the government allegedly being short-changed by the Production Sharing Agreement. Kaieteur News reports.

 

Food Security

 

  • One fruitful benefit of the pandemic is that many Jamaicans had both the time and the need to turn to backyard farming to supplement their groceries. Forbes reports.

 

The Economy, Finance and Debt

 

  • Barbados’ Prime Minister, Mia Mottley at the United Nations General Assembly lobbied for a restructuring of the Bretton Woods institutions to be updated to see to the equitable needs of all countries, adapt to modern-day problems and include financing from multinational corporations that benefit from the institutions. Caribbean Magazine Plus reports.

 

  • Barbados is the first country to reach a staff-level agreement to access the IMF’s Resilience and Sustainability Trust (RST), which aims to provide affordable, long-term financing to help build resilience against climate change. Read more from the IMF here.

 

  • Axios gives a comprehensive and simple explanation of Barbados’ landmark debt conversion agreement.


  • Faced with the financial fallout from the cost of living, debt and climate crises, Barbados’ government unveiled the Bridgetown Agenda, which is a guide for urgent and decisive transformation of the international financial system. Barbados’ Government Information Services explains. 

 

 

The Caribbean in the World

 

  • Various world leaders at the United Nations General Assembly spoke passionately about many different issues affecting the Caribbean, climate change being among one of the most pressing issues. The Editorial of Caribbean Magazine Plus noted their emphasis on the need for the USA to engage with Venezuela and Cuba.

 

  • Dominica’s President, Charles Angelo Savarin, made a case for removing sanctions against Venezuela and lifting trade blockades to Cuba before the 77th Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations. He also addressed the crisis in Haiti, Caribbean Magazine Plus reports.

 

  • St Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves spoke about issues involving Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Taiwan during his address at the United Nations General Assembly’s 77th Session. Asberth News Network reports.


  • The Atlantic Council breaks down the discussions and commitments on US-Caribbean relations held between US Vice President Kamala Harris and  Suriname’s President Chan Santokhi, Barbados’ Prime Minister Mia Mottley, Guyana’s President Irfaan Ali, Trinidad and Tobago’s Prime Minister Keith Rowley, and Dominican Republic’s President Luis Abinader in Washington. 

  

Migration

 

  • The Dominican Republic is building a 13-foot wall along the Haitian border to keep out migrants who are desperately fleeing the country due to the ongoing humanitarian crisis. Bloomberg reports. InSight Crime discusses the political, criminological and sociological factors of the wall.    


LGBTIQ+ rights

 

  • A constitutional challenge against laws that criminalise same-sex intimacy in Dominica was heard on September 27 at the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court, which acts as the High Court of Justice of Dominica. The hearing comes months after the same court decriminalised same-sex intimacy in neighbouring St. Kitts & Nevis and Antigua & Barbuda. Erasing 76 Crimes reports.

 

  • Cuba held a successful referendum on September 25 for a government-backed “family law” code that would allow same-sex couples to marry and adopt, as well as outlining the rights of children and grandparents. The code will also allow surrogate pregnancies, broader rights for grandparents in regard to grandchildren, protection of the elderly and measures against gender violence. The Washington Post reports.

 

Decolonisation

 

  • In an historic move, St Lucia has decided to make the Caribbean Court of Justice its final court of appeal and move away from the Privy Council. Nation News and Caricom Today report.

 

  • Louis E.A. Moyston, PhD, in a letter to the editor in the Jamaica Gleaner, calls for a revision in the philosophy that guides the education system in Jamaica in order for it to be more decolonised. 

 

  • This Jamaica Gleaner editorial discusses the need for teachers to start considering English as a second language and Patois as Jamaican students’ first language. It highlighted that a large number of Jamaican students are illiterate in English and quite a few fail their exams because English is not their primary language. 


Opportunities

 

  • The Commonwealth Foundation is offering grants in the range of £15,000-£30,000 per year for projects addressing three core themes: health, freedom of expression and environment and climate change. The deadline for applications is 1pm GMT on 1 November. Apply here 


  • Amnesty International for the Caribbean is looking for a Caribbean Campaigner. Are you concerned about the human rights crisis in Haiti; killings by the police in Jamaica, silencing of dissent in Cuba, and the rights of refugees in Trinidad? Do you have the skills and passion to do something about it? Do you speak Haitian Creole, and/ or Spanish and English? Amnesty International is looking for a strategic thinker, able to work with a broad range of civil society to effect change in a diverse and complex region. Deadline, October 21.

 

Events

 

  • If you’re in London on October 23, you can book tickets to see  the world premiere of Walter Rodney: ‘What They Don’t Want you to Know.’ This is a documentary exploring the life of the Guyanese historian and civil rights campaigner. There will be a Q&A session with Dr Patricia Rodney, CEO of The Walter Rodney Foundation, Gina Nadira Miller, activist, politician and businesswoman, Lavinya Stennett, founder of Black Curriculum, and Arlen and Daniyal Harris-Vajda, the directors. The discussion will be chaired by broadcaster, novelist, poet and academic, David Dabydeen.

 

  • The Regional Week of Climate Action began on October 1. This week, people around the Caribbean will come together to demand leaders take urgent action to protect lives against climate change. Activities include hiking and planting in Trinidad and Tobago, a two-day workshop in Haiti, and a mangrove tour in Cuba. To join a planned event, register here on the web


  • Saint Lucia's National Designated Authority to the Green Climate Fund will share experiences on developing national climate finance tracking systems on Tuesday, October 11, from 10:00 AM – 12:30 PM (AST).  Register here.

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Hurricane Fiona rampaged through the Caribbean taking lives and destroying infrastructure

 

Hurricane Fiona may have dumped more rain on some parts of Puerto Rico than category four hurricane Maria did five years ago and it is yet to recover, Grist writes. The people of Puerto Rico were not surprised when their electricity failed. Since Maria in 2017, the electricity grid has not been optimally functional or been made resilient, NBC News reports. Those Puerto Rican residents lucky enough to convert to solar panels were able to have electricity in the midst of Fiona’s destruction. The Times discusses how the rest of the island can convert to the renewable energy resource. 

Following Hurricane Fiona, Puerto Rico will need more assistance to address the damage to the island. Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of the religious development group Jubilee USA Network in a press release, said the island still has debt, a child poverty crisis and recovery from previous disasters.

 

Hurricane Fiona also devastated Guadeloupe, a French territory, destroying infrastructure and causing injury according to Global Voices, and The Turks and Caicos Islands as a Category 3 storm, The Jamaica Gleaner reports.

 

Climate Justice

 

  • This Atlantic Council report, a publication by the Caribbean Initiative, written by former Guyanese Ambassador Riyad Insanally and Wazim Mowla, outlines their suggestions for “three quick wins” the United States and CARICOM should pursue though the US-Caribbean Partnership to Address the Climate Crisis 2030 (PACC2030). 

 

  • Barbados’ government announced a landmark debt conversion that will fund a domestic conservation fund and an endowment trust supporting durable large-scale conservation of Barbados’ fragile marine environment and promotion of the sustainable blue economy for generations. CISION PR Newswire publishes the press release. According to Bloomberg, Barbados “struck a deal to buy back a portion of its $531 million bond due in 2029, replacing it with lower-cost debt that comes with repayment guarantees from the Inter-American Development Bank and The Nature Conservancy. As part of the deal, the nation is also buying back a portion of its 8% local-currency notes due 2043.” This bond has a clause that allows payments to be suspended in the event of another global pandemic. Prime Minister Mottley believes that if this kind of option had been available in 2020 to many of the countries now in trouble, much of the financial turmoil could have been avoided. Newsroom Guyana reports.

 

  • Mottley is also building a global coalition of nations committed to overhauling the global financial system and unleash trillions of dollars of investments to the climate frontlines.  Mottley laid out a plan to transform the global finance architecture and make it fit to address the climate crisis at the UN general assembly. Climate Change News reports.

 

  • Download the free digital copy of the report for the State of the Climate in Latin America and the Caribbean 2021 here.

 

  • Denmark is the first central government of a developed country to propose funding devoted to “Loss and Damage” to countries ravaged by climate-related disasters. The Danish government announced  at the UN general assembly it would provide DKK 100m (£12m) specifically for Loss and Damage. Matthew Samuda, a minister in Jamaica’s ministry of economic growth, said: “Jamaica is happy to see a developed nation stepping up to the plate and acknowledging the absolute need for loss and damage to be acknowledged…Though $13m will not cover the vast devastation we are already experiencing from climatic events.” Belize’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Carlos Fuller, said, “Loss and damage is already occurring in Belize…Severe erosion is altering communities…A financial mechanism for loss and damage must be established at Cop27 to provide support to the communities that did little to cause this crisis.” The Guardian reports.

 

  • The Mesoamerican Reef (MAR) ecoregion, which is the largest reef system in the Atlantic, is shared along the coastlines of Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala, and Belize. After a decade of steady improvement, the MAR has seen declining health over the past five years. Judicial officials came together from across the Mesoamerican Reef region, to share skills and knowledge to apply the law to protect the Mesoamerican Reef at a conference. The Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide (ELAW) discusses options to protect the reef.

 

  • Belize’s city of Belmopan is a climate adapted city. Known as the Garden City, Belmopan has lots of green spaces and an overall negative carbon footprint but faces challenges posed by climate change. The Climate action guidelines 2022–2030 respond to the need to address those challenges. 

 

  • The Bahamas Prime Minister Philip Davis said small islands vulnerable to the effects of climate change are ‘pledge fatigued’ by large nations who promise funds but are yet to pay. He said industrialised countries that contribute significantly to carbon emissions must ‘pay the bill’, EyeWitness News reports.

 

  • The Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) has entered into an agreement with the Italy-based Cassa Depositi e Prestiti (CDP) to provide US $50 million to help regional countries counter the effects of climate change and support the sustainable development of the Caribbean countries. Nation News reports.

 

  • UN Climate Change Executive Secretary, Grenadian Simon Stiell, said there is an urgent need for world leaders to make the necessary changes to get to the 1.5°C goal to stay alive. He said, "We have eight COPs to go in this decisive decade of #ClimateAction. Think about it. That is the equivalent of two World Cup finals." See here. 

 

  • The International Seabed Authority (ISA) authorised the first large-scale effort to mine metals from the Pacific sea floor that could help speed the transition away from fossil fuels. The licensing process has come under scrutiny from critics who say the ISA isn’t doing enough to protect the environment or equal access to undersea riches. Quartz reports.

 

Oil and Gas

 

  • Guyana’s government announced that future oil contracts will include a Stability Clause that currently exists in the 2016 Production Sharing Agreement (PSA) ExxonMobil. The Stability Clause is a binding agreement that seeks to ensure that the profits of the contractor are unaffected. Transparency advocate, Dr. Yog Mahadeo believes that such an “onerous stability” must not find its way into any new PSA, unless so determined by legal minds. Kaieteur News reports.

 

  • Guyanese activists Danuta Radzik and Sinikka Henry, applied to the National High Court to quash the Liza 1 Permit which the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) signed in favour of Esso Exploration and Production Guyana Limited (EEPGL) on May 31, 2022. Kaieteur News  and Stabroek News report. 

 

  • Following an oil spill two weeks ago in Guyana, Dr. Vincent Adams, former head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says the event showed  how “grossly underprepared” Guyana is for petroleum production. Kaieteur News reports.

 

Haiti

 

  • On Tuesday 22nd September, heavily armed men from Canaan attacked the Cabaret Women's Prison. One hundred and forty three women are still on the run. Investigations continue, Haiti Libre reports.

 

 

Economics, Finance and Debt

 

  • Debt Justice’s video analyses the fact that a quarter of the countries in the world are in debt which is deeply rooted in colonial practices.

 

  • Here is Jamaica’s country profile by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs looking at emigration and remittances, agriculture and food security, and crime and violence. 

 

  • The EU Council will reportedly add Anguilla, the Bahamas, and the Turks and Caicos Islands to the EU list of non-cooperative jurisdictions on anti-money laundering in a meeting in October, reported Orbitax. Last week Barbados’ Prime Minister Mia Mottley testified before the US Congress about the economic injustice such restrictions bring for the region. Former Senior IDB staffer from The Bahamas denounces the expanding measures applied arbitrarily, that continue to cripple Caribbean economies on Twitter and Eye Witness News Bahamas analysed the issue here.

 

Crime and Corruption

 

  • This InSight Crime investigation examines the work the Dominican Republic must do to root out corruption. Since President Luis Abinader took office in 2020, the Attorney General’s Special Prosecutor for Administrative Corruption (Procuraduría Especializada de Persecución de la Corrupción Administrativa - PEPCA) has been working on a number of cases against government ministers, security force officials, and close family members of the former president, Danilo Medina.

 

  • The number of people imprisoned in Guyana has increased from approximately 1,700 to more than 2,000 in a total population of 750,000, Newsroom Guyana reports.

 

  • Trinidad and Tobago has already crossed the 400 murder mark for the year with police unsure as to how to respond, InSight Crime reports.

 

Women’s and LGBTQI+ Rights

 

  • The Caribbean is one of the only regions in the world without a dedicated philanthropic fund focused on women’s and LGBTQI+ rights. A new feasibility study finds a large number of women’s and LGBTQI+ movements working across the region, and the opportunity for donors to support their work with sustained and flexible funding. T&T Guardian reports the press release from Equality Fund 

 

  • Activists fighting for LGBTQ rights in the Caribbean have received a new revived vigour as courts in the Caribbean continue to side with the LGBT community in the judicial fight for their human rights. Erasing 76 Crimes discusses.

 

  • The Eastern Caribbean Alliance for Diversity and Equality (ECADE) collaborated with Parliamentarians for Global Action, UNIBAM, Colors Caribbean, Eolas Consulting, and UNDP to hold a roundtable in Barbados on LGBTQI+ Research D.A.T.A. (Driving Analytical, Transformative Action) on September 15 and 16, 2022.  Opportunities for economic inclusion and livelihoods were analysed, WinnFM reports.

 

Drug Policy

 

  • Despite being the champions of the marijuana industry, cultivating strains unique to Jamaica, the Rastafarian community feel they are getting the short end of the stick when it comes to access to selling in Jamaica, The Jamaica Gleaner reports.

 

Decolonisation

 

  • Cambridge University will create a Cambridge Legacies of Enslavement Fund which will be put towards research, community engagement and partnership activities in an attempt to respond to its legacies of slavery. The University did a peer-reviewed research into its historical connections to enslavement, and will begin implementing the report’s recommendations.  

 

Arts and Culture

 


  • Dominica is preparing to host the Dominica World Creole Music Festival. It is the only festival in the region that plays every musical genre from the Caribbean. Soca, dancehall, reggae, zouk, kompa, and bouyon will be played during the three-day festival. The festival is usually held at the end of October and leads into the country’s Independence Day celebrations on November 3, Loop Caribbean reports.

 

Opportunities

 

  • The Loss and Damage Youth Coalition has launched its Loss and Damage Grant for registered youth organisations to get funding for on-the-ground projects and practical programmes that address the needs of communities experiencing the most severe loss and damage due to climate change. Ten organisations will get US $10,000 and one organisation will get US $50,000. Application deadline is October 20. Read more here.


 

  • Grant opportunity for NGOs that support LGBTIQ+ and women and girls. Click here for more information. Reshare all completed documents to info4ecade@gmail.com. The deadline for applications is Friday, 07th October 2022 at 23.59 EC time.

 

Events

 

  • IAMovement and The National Gas Company of Trinidad and Tobago Limited will be hosting the Inaugural event, Caribbean Green Infrastructure Conference 2022. This Hybrid on-and-offline two-day event will take place physically in Trinidad & Tobago from October 25th – 26th 2022, with fully available online streaming and interactivity to facilitate participation from stakeholders across the Caribbean and Latin American regions. Register here.

  

 

  • The LAC Dialogue Platform 2022  is hosting the 4th Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) Regional Dialogue Platform on Anticipatory Humanitarian Action, which will take place from 28-29 September 2022. The event will have face-to-face meetings in Antigua, Guatemala, with live streaming (during the morning sessions) through the event’s website. The 2022 theme is ‘Scaling up and integration in disaster risk management systems.’ View the agenda  and register here.

 

  • South South Collective is partnering with colleagues from the Global South to have the International Creative Exchange Caribbean 2022 -  ICEC22 Invest from October 5-7. Investors, buyers, artists, creatives, and cultural entrepreneurs are invited. Click here to register.

 

  • The Organisation of Caribbean States is hosting a webinar on Advancing a Road Map for Debt for Climate Swaps in the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU). The Government of Antigua and Barbuda is nearing the completion of the project Financing for Adaptation to Climate Change in the Eastern Caribbean – FACE which is financed by the Open Society Foundations (OSF).  The event is on September 29, at 10:00 am in Puerto Rico. Register here.


  • The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights announced that the first session of the Permanent Forum of People of African Descent will take place from 5 to 8 December 2022 in Palais des Nations of the United Nations Office in Geneva, Switzerland. Register here to participate – financial support is available. 


 

We welcome comments and critiques on the Just Caribbean Updates. You can see the Updates on our website, as well as receive it directly through the mailing list. Thank you for reading.

We aim for the JCU to be an informational tool, as well as a space for connection between Caribbean experts, policy-makers, activists and organisations. If you would like to post an event or opportunity on the JCU, we invite you to send the information to justcaribbeanupdates@gmail.com. Please put in the following format: date -- title of event -- organiser -- registration link OR title of opportunity -- institution -- link to more information. 

 


News of climate and political action around the Caribbean

  Climate Justice   Newsweek reports, “The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) approved nearly $13 billion in 2020 to help rebuild P...