The UWI to host inaugural meeting of Commonwealth universities to collaborate on climate resilience

From July 5 to 8, 2019, The University of the West Indies (The UWI) Regional Headquarters in Jamaica will be the stage for the first-ever meeting of universities across the Commonwealth to collaborate on climate challenges and resilience in their countries.

The Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU), with its membership of an estimated 500 institutions in over 50 countries. It recognises that universities have a critical role to play in building climate resilience across the Commonwealth, through enhancing their own resilience and supporting local communities, businesses, and governments. For this reason, in 2018, the ACU established a Commonwealth Climate Resilience Network (CCRN) to link universities in climate-vulnerable settings and with those universities with relevant expertise, to develop and exchange knowledge and practice in climate resilience and adaptation.

The Network’s inaugural four-day meeting—convened in partnership with The UWI, the South Pacific and Fiji National University—is expected to provide a structured opportunity to share good practice and explore the potential for collaboration among Commonwealth universities.

On July 5, Coordinator of The UWI’s Institute for Sustainable Development (ISD) and Director of the Centre for Environmental Management (CEM), Dr David Smith, along with Mr Jeremy Collymore, Consultant, Disaster Resilience are expected to deliver remarks, opening the meeting. The ensuing agenda over the four days will include evaluation of CCRN’s progress to date in activities such as its survey of institutional loss and currently resilience planning practice in the Caribbean. A good practice sharing/collaboration clinic on tools for disaster planning, and working group/technical sessions and field visits to The UWI’s facilities will enable the development of proposals to support marine research, postgraduate mobility and data management capacity for Commonwealth Small States. The field visits will include Discovery Bay Marine & Field Laboratory as well as the Blue Mountains carded for July 7.  On July 8, Vice-Chancellor of The UWI and President of the ACU, Professor Sir Hilary Beckles will deliver the feature address, to be followed by closing hearings on the Network’s programme of future activities, operations and governance.

The UWI’s hosting of this meeting is a demonstration of its continued commitment to supporting climate action as part of its Triple A Strategy (Strategic Plan 2017-2022) as it seeks to make a global impact. Earlier this year, the International Association of Universities (IAU) selected The UWI as its global leader in the mobilisation of research and advocacy for the achievement of a climate-smart world. The IAU designated this charge in recognition of the University’s decades of world-class research on climate change and sustainable development.

This critical collaboration on climate resilience supports the UN’s Sustainable Goal on climate action (SDG 13), which will be reviewed next week in New York at its High-Level Political Forum 2019 under the auspices of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). The UWI will also be represented in a number of events during this Forum from July 10 through 12.