The United Nations Framework Conference on Climate Change (UNFCCC), or COP27, ended on November 20, 2022, with what has been called historic outcomes. The two-week conference, which took place in Sharm El Sheikh Egypt, brought together over 45,000 participants – including world leaders, delegates, activists, and observers – to address the problem of climate change and its effects on the lives of people globally. During the first two days of the conference, world leaders convened a high-level round table discussion to discuss solutions to global issues resulting from climate change, including food security, and its effects on vulnerable groups.
The Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) was represented at COP27 by a five-person delegation led by the OECS Director General, Dr. Didacus Jules. Caribbean territories are highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and, therefore, the OECS Commission has been an ardent advocate for finding solutions to the problem, for developed countries to provide climate financing for adaptation, and for measures to be taken to limit the global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
During the event, Dr. Jules gave a candid speech on the devastating impacts of climate change on the Caribbean Region and the lack of climate finance to recover from these shocks. Dr. Jules said:
“We heard that $6.9 trillion is needed [globally] each year to meet the needs of climate change. The fundamental issue surrounding the issue of financing, I want to submit is political. A hundred billion dollars per year is not to be met, until, whenever. Contrast that with the speed and the urgency for the engine of war in Ukraine - $30 billion US dollars mobilized in the space of two weeks.”
He further lamented that “the factors impacting the availability of climate finance for SIDS include pre-existing and current debt burdens; structural impediments such as eligibility requirements, which are designed to maintain the systems of inequity; the indifference and insensitivity of developed countries; and bureaucratic hurdles resulting in lengthy intolerable delays.”
The issues faced by OECS Member States relating to climate change and resilience were further highlighted by the Head of the OECS Environmental Sustainability Division, Chamberlain Emmanuel, during a panel discussion on the Blue Economy and Climate Resilience hosted by the World Bank.
"While we continue to be a champion to ensure that we remain within the 1.5 degrees Celsius threshold, the evidence is there that we are speeding towards 1.5. Therefore, adaptation is critical because science shows that even if we were to remain within 1.5, the effects are still devastating to small island states. In our design and implementation of critical infrastructure – if we speak about the blue economy – coastal infrastructure is critical, such as ports, roads, and other business ventures. We now have to do these on a different scale because of the impacts of climate change, so this incremental, additional financing required for construction, needs to be at the table so that we can truly adapt and position ourselves for prosperity.”
At the conclusion of the two-week event, it was apparent that the collective voices of participants on the need to act decisively to stem the problem, and to provide climate financing, especially to SIDS were heard. The UNFCCC announced on November 20, “Governments took the ground-breaking decision to establish new funding arrangements, as well as a dedicated fund, to assist developing countries in responding to loss and damage. Governments also agreed to establish a ‘transitional committee to make recommendations on how to operationalize both the new funding arrangements and the fund at COP28 next year. The first meeting of the transitional committee is expected to take place before the end of March 2023. The two-week conference ended with the decision to establish and operationalize a loss and damage fund, particularly for nations most vulnerable to the climate crisis. Parties also agreed on the institutional arrangements to operationalize the Santiago Network for Loss and Damage, to catalyze technical assistance to developing countries that are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change.”
The United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres in a concluding statement said:
“I welcome today’s successful conclusion of the Climate Change Conference (COP 27) in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.I congratulate all negotiators for working tirelessly towards a mutual “yes” position.I commend COP President Sameh Shoukry, as well as Simon Stiell and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, and their teams, for their efforts to put into action this year’s slogan of “together for implementation.”
Simon Stiell, UNFCCC Executive Secretary and former minister for the Environment and Climate Resilience in Grenada was pleased with the outcome saying, “COP27 has defined a way forward on a decades-long conversation on funding for addressing loss and damage. Let’s use this success as a springboard to restore trust in our process. Let’s use it to achieve greater ambition and faster implementation.”