ST. AUGUSTINE, Trinidad and Tobago. Wednesday, 30 June 2021– With the successful delivery of yet another new, four-day online training module, which ended on June 24th, The UWI’s Diplomatic Academy of the Caribbean (DAOC) wrapped up its 2020/2021 academic year. Titled ‘Caribbean Small States and the Diplomacies of Climate Change: Negotiations in Practice’, the training received praise from the inaugural cohort of participants, who hail from Barbados, Guyana, Saint Lucia, and St. Kitts and Nevis. They comprise lawyers and analysts attached to ministries with responsibility for the environment, as well as diplomats and other foreign ministry officials.
The module placed particular attention on the process underway in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) for addressing global climate change, having regard to the contemporary theory and practice of foreign policy and diplomacy in Caribbean small states. Participants traced the evolution of the process to date, with broad exposure to real-world insights vis-à-vis the actual negotiation dynamics at the relevant meetings. The module took account of the role of climate science and the latest scientific reports on climate change in the context of their impact on the political process. The role of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and their impact on the salient global debate received special consideration.
In this regard, the module made provision for two panel discussions. Featuring experts drawn from a wide range of practitioner and scholarly communities, the panels examined the ‘Role of SIDS in Multilateral Diplomacy’ and the ‘Role of SIDS in the UNFCCC’, respectively. A standalone session, facilitated by a climate diplomacy advisor, called attention to climate finance. A mock negotiation session took place, as a capstone of the module, with a view to evaluating participants’ grasp of the module subject matter.
“The Diplomatic Academy continues to lead the way in offering innovative and timely diplomatic training, drawing on a Caribbean perspective,” said DAOC Manager, Dr. Nand C. Bardouille. He underscored that: “At a time when Caribbean Community Member States are preparing for COP26, this module gave a muchneeded boost to regional efforts to build salient capacity.”
The module, which follows the success of the recently held DAOC module ‘Caribbean Small States and Disaster Diplomacy’, had one core facilitator: Ms. Rueanna Haynes. She is an experienced international climate law and governance specialist, currently serving as Senior Legal Adviser at the not-for-profit thinktank Climate Analytics. Ms. Haynes said, “[i]nitiatives such as this module are critical for the region, in particular, for realising its aspirations for addressing the climate crisis going forward; especially in the context of the implementation of the Paris Agreement.”
Dr. Ricardo Kellman, Counsellor in the Permanent Mission of Barbados to the United Nations Office and other International Organisations at Geneva, commended the facilitator. He noted: “Anyone seeking to obtain a clearer view of the contribution of the Caribbean to the climate discourse, and to understand the challenges faced and opportunities sought by the Governments and Civil Society actors on this matter, would be well served by participating in future iterations of this module.”
Ms. Elsa Wilkin-Armbrister, Minister Counsellor in the High Commission of St. Kitts and Nevis in London, said, “this training was by far one of the most challenging yet rewarding courses I have attended in a long time.” She further indicated, “I would recommend this course to anyone preparing to attend the COP26 in Glasgow later this year or anyone who has an interest in climate change and climate change diplomacy.”
Ms. Maier Sifflet, a Sustainable Development and Environment Officer with the Department of Sustainable
Development in the Ministry of Education, Innovation, Gender Relations and Sustainable Development of Saint Lucia, said, “this course allowed me to thoroughly explore the world of climate change negotiations and its teachings truly surpassed my expectations.” She underscored that “[n]ot only was this course able to contribute to my personal professional achievements, but it has also helped build capacity in my country and our climate change work programme!”
Ms. Frances Carryl, an Attorney-at-law and a Legal Officer with the Environmental Protection Agency of Guyana, conveyed, “Ms. Haynes, as well as the other presenters, are undoubtedly highly knowledgeable and eager to share their expertise and real-world experiences.” In further reflecting on the training, she said, “[u]ltimately, the module has laid a great foundation for future participation in climate change negotiation.”
Ms. Lauren Sampson, Legal Assistant, with the Environmental Protection Agency of Guyana, recommends the module as “a primer on the practical application of negotiations regarding climate change from the perspective of the global south.” She also noted, “[t]he course material was expertly curated, comprehensive, clear, very timely and relevant leading up to COP 26.” Ms. Sampson was especially impressed with the course facilitator, while contending, “with its inclusion of guest speakers, the training was a distinctly exceptional, informative and engaging experience.”
Ms. Jermaine Descartes, a Sustainable Development and Environment Officer with the Department of
Sustainable Development in the Ministry of Education, Innovation, Gender Relations and Sustainable Development of Saint Lucia, said, “[t]he module was indeed an intellectually stimulating and rewarding experience!” She further noted, “I was especially thankful for the negotiation simulation exercise, which has allowed me to apply the knowledge learnt throughout the course.”
The Director of the Institute of International Relations (IIR), Professor Jessica Byron, stated that the Diplomatic Academy has embarked on a journey of innovation during the current academic year, which has not only involved the migration of its training modules to online format, rendering them more accessible, but has also introduced a range of new courses. Professor Byron called attention to those courses’ focus on the very contemporary existential risks and policy dilemmas facing Caribbean small state societies. She warmly congratulated Dr. Bardouille and his team and the excellent facilitator Ms. Rueanna Haynes for this offering, and extended her best wishes to all the participants as they deepen their knowledge and skills in Climate Diplomacy.
The DAOC will build on the success of its in-demand module ‘Caribbean Small States and the Diplomacies of
Climate Change: Negotiations in Practice’, conferred as a certificate, by offering a second iteration of it in the 2021/2022 academic year also in a virtual format. This online teaching modality forms an integral part of efforts to further internationalize the DAOC, which aims to make its expansive diplomatic training agenda even more accessible to a wider range of constituencies within and beyond the Caribbean.