Sunday, April 18News For London

COP 21 agreement: what it means for island nations

Many island nations could disappear before you have a chance to vacation there.

What makes many Small Island Developing States beautiful also makes them vulnerable according to thecommonwealth.org. Climate change has brought with it severe weather events (from droughts to devastating hurricanes), the decrease in biodiversity, deforestation and places pressure on island nations.

About 200 nations participated in the United Nations Climate Change Conference, (COP21), held in Paris from November 30 to December 11. Many countries were represented by leaders and youth from Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and provided an important voice and insight at the Paris discussions.

One of the main objectives of the COP21 was to sign the first ever deal where all world nations would agree to cut fossil fuel emissions.

Activists have called on world leaders to make radical changes in order to secure their future.

What do youth leaders in some of the top tourism destinations have to say about Climate change and the COP21 agreement?:

Maldives:

Maldives: credit Adam Jones
Maldives: credit Adam Jones

The Maldives, an archipelago of 1,200 islands is the lowest-lying country in the world and is also one of the most vulnerable SIDS to Climate Change. The island which is a popular tourism destination can possibly see greater effects of climate change in the next few years.

Lujain Ismail Shafeeq, Journalist, Maldives in an exclusive interview with Westminster World said: ‘the highest elevation in the Maldives is only a couple of meters above sea level, even a small rise in sea level can wipe out the places where people live’.

 

St. Lucia:

 

Cul-de-Sac River, St Lucia after Hurricane Tomas 2010 Credit: Trionne Phillips, AusAID
Cul-de-Sac River, St Lucia after Hurricane Tomas 2010
Credit: Trionne Phillips, AusAID

 

Teshia Jn.Baptiste, OECS Secretariat said: ‘Reducing the risk to loss and damage has been a strong focus on the Caribbean and it’s now inclusion in Article 8 of the new agreement will hopefully create the opportunity for countries to focus and reform existing policies. St. Lucia like many other Caribbean countries has also been affected by climate change. In 2010, Hurricane Tomas, damaged roads, crops and the economy of the nation.

St. Vincent and the Grenadines:

Storm Damage in Bequia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Credit: Herman Belmar

Joanna Stowe, an environmental activist in Bequia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines said: ‘I have noticed a change in our weather patterns, no longer can we predict our dry and wet season hence a reduction in crops grown and harvested.

She furthered that environmental  ‘our islands are already seeing the impacts of Climate Change. Beaches that we grew up with have completely disappeared. Ever so often we have to raise our sea walls to stop salt-water intrusion and damage to our properties?’

Dominican Republic:

Dominican Republic. Credit: Pixabay

Gina Lisselle Rosario Diaz, founder of “Green Hope DR, COP21 participant, said: ‘coming from the Dominican Republic, located in the Caribbean region, I can surely say that our region is taking steps towards the achievement of a more sustainable future, either individually or collectively. However we cannot deny the need of more strong and concrete policies and most importantly implementation mechanisms in order to achieve what has been agreed in the Paris document’.

She belives that it is not a matter of achieving the goal in agreed period of time, but it is more of a matter of survival for thousands of people and entire island communities. ‘If many countries fo not follow up in their promises, SIDS countries will be experiencing more sea level rise, destroying entire villages and causing climate migration. We will also have more water-related diseases because of the lack of drinking water resources and many more catastrophic effects.

The Paris discussions were not without controversy. James Hansen, Professor and top climate scientist, in an interview with the Guardian –where nearly 200 nations gathered—said ‘It’s a fraud really, a fake…just worthless words’.

Gina Lisselle Rosario Diaz in response to Professor Hansen said: ‘We have come up with a not a perfect agreement but it’s definitely better than no agreement at all. And if you take a look a it, you can see its a very hopeful one. Therefore, for what I can see in the document, I am hoping for concrete actions to stay in the so discussed 1.5’.