Everyone has a role to play in addressing climate change – Dr Edwards
Dr Thera Edwards, map curator and lecturer in the Department of Geography and Geology at the University of the West Indies, is urging persons to take action to address climate change as the window to avoid a catastrophe is closing rapidly.
“We are all part of climate change; we all have a role to play and there is room for individual action. If we are not going to act individually in our various roles in our organisations, there are things that we can trigger as actions from our respective positions in our communities to address climate change,” she said.
Dr Edwards was addressing the Council of Voluntary Social Services (CVSS) recently convened sector meeting under the theme ‘SDG13 Climate Action – What Can NGOs Do to Combat Climate Change and its impact?’.
The sector meeting is being held in partnership with the Caribbean Policy Development Centre (CPDC) under the theme ‘Ignite CSO 2023 … Enhancing CARIFORUM’s Civil Society Capacity to Participate in National and Regional Development Programming and Policymaking’.
She recommended the following actions for non-governmental organisations (NGO) and individuals: “Slow down the release of carbon [in the environment] through the planting of trees in urban and forest areas. Make societies more resilient. Invest in sustainable solutions and confront all climate risks,” she said.
The lecturer in the Department of Geography and Geology at UWI, Mona Campus, says that already there are more frequent storms and extreme weather events but noted, however, that there are mitigating measures that can be taken in preparation for these extreme weather conditions.
“If you are in charge of an organisation and if you have persons who oversee your buildings, ensure that they inspect your buildings, find out if the buildings are up to code. For example, we like to use galvanised zinc on our roofs in the Caribbean, but are the roofs attached using hurricane straps? Are the materials used going to help buildings to resist strong storm force winds?” she asked.
Dr Edwards said keen attention should also be paid to ensure that buildings are insured as many organisations have suffered because of lack of, or adequate insurance coverage.
She advised that electronics, important documents, furniture, and equipment be safeguarded before storm events.
“Have a data management plan and backup plan and use it. How are you managing your data? Is all your data secured in the office? Do you have cloud storage and backup? Do you have external locations where at set time intervals data is sent for storage for secondary backup?” she asked.
She urged persons to be aware of the location in which they are situated, and the risks associated with those areas such as if the area is prone to flooding; if the area is prone to increased temperature, which she said can cause heat stress especially for outdoor activities or in elderly or other vulnerable persons.
Turning to the issue of drought, Dr Edwards said that persons should be practising water conservation using low flow fixtures or using grey water from kitchens, laundry areas or baths to water gardens and backyard plots.
Participants were urged to look around their work, community and home spaces to identify areas for individual and group action to begin to build climate readiness and resilience.