Earth Day 2010: Barbados Nominates Liz Thompson to head UNFCCC

Forty years on from the first, Earth Day 2010 was marked worldwide by countless events, project launches, meetings, speeches, press releases; actions big and small.

The Caribbean was not left out. Our first earth-day-worthy post is that Senator Liz Thompson, former minister of energy and the environment in Barbados, has been nominated by the government to replace the outgoing executive secretary of the UNFCCC, the world’s climate change secretariat.

The position carries the responsibility of coordinating a global response to what is probably the biggest and most far-reaching global development challenge of our time. Liz is one of (at this point) nine respected climate leaders in contention. (Full disclosure: Liz is a colleague of mine and we are currently working together on sustainable energy consulting projects for a couple of governments in the Caribbean).

Each one of the nominees has the background and credentials to fill the post. But the climate action website 350.org makes a great point, essentially about small being beautiful:

“Most important however is Ms. Thompson’s unique perspective as someone from a small island state. Unlike her predecessor, she truly understands and can speak from the perspective of vulnerable communities and nations and bring their voice into every negotiating room.”

The Caribbean’s point of view, like that of other small island state regions, is represented by the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS); a group that, in the words of its vice chairman Hugh Sealy (another colleague), “has acted as the conscience of the Convention and the Kyoto Protocol. AOSIS has argued consistently that the litmus test of the success of the climate talks is the survival of small island states. “No island left behind” and “1.5 (°C) to stay alive” are two of the clarion calls being made by AOSIS.”

For her part, Senator Thompson sees her candidacy as one that represents “a great opportunity for small island developing states who are on the front line of the assault of climate change and whose survival may well be linked to our adaptation and mitigation strategies. The case of the Maldives graphically demonstrates how significant an issue climate change is for sustainability and survival.”

So, the stakes are clear from our point of view. Voices such as Senator Thompson’s are needed in the halls of international power to be able to move the process in the necessary direction. We wish her the best of luck.

     

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