Sir Hilary: We need a new development paradigm for the 21st century…

as The UWI, SUNY meet with international development partners in New York to advance #ClimateAction

“The world economy needs a new development paradigm for the 21st century,” says Vice-Chancellor of The University of the West Indies (UWI), Professor Sir Hilary Beckles. He made the statement on Friday, 20 September 2019, speaking at Global Partnerships for Climate Action—a Symposium arranged by The SUNY-UWI Center for Leadership and Sustainable Development (CLSD).

Addressing the gathering, Vice-Chancellor Beckles explained, “We are at the tail end of the 19th century development paradigm that was based on economic growth by all means necessary, including colonial exploitation, white supremacy, destruction of rainforests, financial institutions catering for elites, and disrespect for the environment and the poor. We all want inclusive development that is sustainable. But human and civil rights cannot be again ignored and set aside. Universities should never again support ‘development by any means necessary.”

The Symposium brought academics from The UWI, the State University of New York (SUNY), the joint SUNY-UWI Center, the Global University Consortium on SDG-13, a wide cross section of development partners—including the World Bank, the IDB, UNDP, UNECLAC, Association of Caribbean States (ACS) and many others—to the SUNY Global Center in New York on the eve of the UN Global Climate Summit. All speakers reiterated the need for collaboration in advancing climate action.

Speaking on behalf of SUNY, Provost, Dr. Tod Laursen said, “We really view substantive engagement with the sustainability agenda as a core mission for us. It’s also very clear that issues like climate change interventions require not only reacting effectively…but also coming before and thinking together proactively about interventions that we can design and mechanisms that we can try to have in place that can anticipate what seems to be this sort of endlessly increasing frequency and severity of events such as we’ve just seen [in The Bahamas]. It’s going to require international collaboration.”

Describing one of the UNDP’s major initiatives to support the region, in his remarks, Dr. López-Calva Assistant Secretary General and Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean underscored, “it is very important that we partner with academia.” He noted that earlier that morning the UNDP signed a Memorandum of Understanding with The UWI, for a blue economy initiative, which is “an opportunity to bring productivity, inclusion and resilience to the countries which will be manifested in better lives for everyone in the Caribbean.”

During the four-hour high level consultation, development partners and academia discussed mechanisms to strengthen the interface between knowledge, policy and practice; the practical application of research into climate innovations; research communication and advocacy in generating much-needed development impact at the grassroots level, and how to tackle climate change challenges.

In her wrap-up at the end of the Symposium, Dr. Stacy Richards-Kennedy, Director, Office of Development at The UWI pointed out, “To address climate change, it will, no doubt, require multilateral approaches…It will require multi-stakeholder approaches. It will entail multiplying and cascading the knowledge and skills that will enable the efficient channelling of those resources and the effective execution of targeted inter-sectoral projects…It is our combined knowledge powerhouses and our joint action that will guide us to the development solutions our world so desperately needs. We must be very deliberate about this…we cannot expect this to happen organically or accept that mere lip service paid to education, research and innovation; our present day expenses are in fact, critical investments in a more sustainable future.” She concluded, “Today’s Symposium has sought to go a step further, for it is not what we know that is important or that will make a difference in the world; it is what we do, given what we know!”

Moving forward, in its capacity as global leader in the mobilisation of research and advocacy for the achievement of a climate-smart world, appointed by the International Association of Universities (IAU), The UWI will continue to harness its global partnerships to strengthen the transfer of knowledge and have a greater influence on policy, industry practice and advocacy.

Photo Caption – L-R: Vice-Chancellor of The University of the West Indies (UWI), Professor Sir Hilary Beckles; Permanent Observer of CARICOM to the United Nations, Ambassador Angela Missouri Sherman-Peter; Dr. Luis Felipe López-Calva, Assistant Secretary