By Caribbean News Now contributor
GENEVA, Switzerland – The health ministers of the Caribbean and Pacific meet at the 72 World Health Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland to discuss opportunities for exchange and cooperation concerning suitable methods in climate change and resilient health systems, health security, non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and regulatory frameworks face many challenges.
Pacific and small island states in the Caribbean face many similar hurdles. They are particularly exposed to climate change and severe weather incidents and have insufficient capacity and human resources to react to specific health hurdles.
“We do not need to reinvent the wheel. We can learn from each other and save resources and time,” said Terrence Deyalsingh, the minister of health of Trinidad and Tobago, who co-chaired the conference coordinated by CARICOM and Cook Islands and aided by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and Regional Office of the World Health Organization (WHO) for the Western Pacific.
Grenada hosted last year’s Third Global Conference on Health and Climate: Special Focus on Small Island Developing States. The former host country’s minister of health, Nickolas Steele stated that addressing the issue of health and climate change together “is about our survival.” Steele also highlighted the need for further evidence and case studies on the consequences of climate change on health.
Jamaica’s minister of health presented the campaign ‘Caribbean Moves,’ which encourages the population to get health checks often, promotes a balanced diet and engage in physical activity. This initiative could be changed and reproduced in the Pacific.
The Cook Islands, minister of health and co-chair of the meeting, Vainetutai Rose Toki-Brown, emphasised the significance of sustained cooperation and collaboration among island states.
Toki-Brown said, “There is a season for everything under the sun and this is our season, an opportunity for the Pacific to work with the Caribbean, to join forces and work as a family, to support each other, blossom and grow. Let us all learn from each other and share best practices and resources.”
Meanwhile, the Global Water Partnership-Caribbean (GWP-C) in partnership with the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC), is convening a regional project development workshop at St George’s University in Grenada from May 27–29, 2019, titled “An Approach to Develop a Regional Water Sector Programme for Building Resilience to Climate Change.”
The focus of the three-day workshop is to strengthen the capacity of Caribbean Water Utilities and government ministries with responsibility for water resources management, in developing climate resilient water proposals, with the objective of preparing a Regional Water Sector Programme for the submission to the Green Climate Fund (GCF).
The workshop will provide participants with knowledge on the GCF and funding opportunities, as well as introduce them to the GCF concept note and funding proposal template. Additionally, stakeholders will be able to identify priority activities and actions for the water sector and utilities in the Caribbean. This would feed into identifying next steps to further develop the regional programme for approval by the GCF.
The importance of the workshop cannot be overstated, as Caribbean small island developing states are some of the most vulnerable islands to the impacts of climate change in the world, with water scarcity ranking as the most critical resource under threat. Addressing this existential threat, requires urgent action to mitigate its long-term impacts and accessing funding to do so is urgently needed.
While the CCCCC, as a regional entity accredited by the GCF, has the mandate to coordinate the Caribbean’s response to climate change. This collaboration between GWP-C and CCCCC, therefore presents a combination of knowledge and experience to foster building climate resilience in the Caribbean water sector. The ultimate objective being to make the Caribbean water secure.