Voices from Small Island Developing States: priorities for COP26 and beyond

This blog is written by Dame Pearlette Louisy; Dr Merle St Clair-Auguste; Dr Aminath Muna; Dr Aminath Shiyama; Dr Rosiana Lagi; and the ESSRG Leadership Team, and first published on the Cabot Institute for the Environment blog

The School of Education’s Education in Small States Research Group (ESSRG) in collaboration with the Cabot Institute for the Environment and the Centre for Comparative and International Research in Education (CIRE), have produced a short (15 minute) video as a direct contribution to COP26 in Glasgow. This has been developed from the zoom recording of a joint online event titled ‘Voices from SIDS at the Sharp End of Environmental Uncertainty: Small Island Developing States (SIDS) Speak to COP26’ held on 5 October 2021.

This professionally developed video highlights the ‘voices’, views and climate change priorities held by youth, community members, traditional village elders and national leaders ‘Living at the Sharp End of Environmental Uncertainty’ in all three global regions of SIDS: the Caribbean, the Indian Ocean and the Pacific (see www.smallstates.net).

The video also includes a response from Professor Dann Mitchell from the Cabot Institute, and a commentary from University of Bristol Alumni and long-time Governor-General of St Lucia (1997-2018), Dame Pearlette Louisy.

To maintain our input for COP26 discussions, this Cabot Institute blog reinforces the key messages from the video presentation in the words of the lead participants from Saint Lucia, The Maldives and Tuvalu: messages that we hope others will continue to share and support.

Saint Lucia

COP26 – Can Glasgow deliver?

“One Point Five to Stay Alive”. This was perhaps the most memorable phrase on the minds and lips of delegates when the Conference of Parties (COP 21) ended in Paris a few short years ago. The small island developing states seemed to have punched above their weight when they persuaded the international community to commit in principle to keep world temperatures and sea level rise below the 1.5 degree-level so that they could survive. The euphoria then was palpable and undeniable.

(Artist: Jonathan Gladding)

But, as we engage in Glasgow and COP 26, what was hailed as an infectious rallying cry must not be allowed to lose its lustre and become just another catchy phrase or worn-out platitude. The United Nations Secretary General’s fears that “Glasgow may not be able to deliver”

could be seen as salt on an already open wound … but let us hope that it is a timely warning to others worldwide, a plea that helps to keep alive the hopes that SIDS are holding on to.

What then lies in store for small island developing states? Surely, they cannot be faulted for sitting idly by, for they have been very proactive in addressing climate change issues in order to build their resilience against this existential threat. The Caribbean region, for example, has recently released The State of the Caribbean Climate Report which is aimed at strengthening the strategic planning and decision-making processes that will be required to accelerate their resilience building efforts. The projections for the region are not at all encouraging. They point to rising sea levels, hotter temperatures (predicted to reach a rise of 1.76 degrees by the end of the century), more variable rainfall with increased drying (by almost 17%), increased sea surface temperatures and more intense Category 4 and 5 hurricanes. (See: Climate Studies Group Mona (Eds.) 2020, The State of the Caribbean Climate. Produced for the Caribbean Development Bank).

These predictions will undoubtedly adversely affect the core livelihoods of Caribbean people already living in a very vulnerable geographic space, who must learn how to live both now and in the future. The international community meeting in Glasgow must therefore make every effort to facilitate the sustainable development of our small island developing states. Education for resilience and sustainable development must take centre stage now, for time is not at all on our side.

In 1993, one of Saint Lucia’s Nobel Laureates, Sir Derek Walcott (Literature 1992), warned in his Nobel Lecture that “a morning could come when governments might ask what happened not only to our forests and our bays, but to a whole people”.

We appeal therefore to COP 26 to heed these warnings to ensure that such a morning never comes. Living at the sharp end of environmental uncertainty, as small island developing states are, cannot be considered sustainable living.

The time to act decisively is now. Glasgow must deliver. Failing which, we will have nullified the very concept of sustainable development proposed by the Brundtland Report … that is, development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

In referring readers back to the video, we wish to thank Curtis Raphael who helped to put the Saint Lucia section together, and Crispin d’Auvergne, the Programme Director of the Climate Change and Disaster Risk Management of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) who provided access to the two Reports cited in our presentation.

Maldives

The contribution to the video from the Maldives aims to bring multiple and diverse voices from the islands of the Maldives to Glasgow and COP26. It highlights their everyday experiences and anxieties about the environment and climate change. These voices come from a range of contributors from different levels of the society, including school children, fishermen, a grandfather, divers, surfers, environmentalists, farmers, entrepreneurs, policy makers and politicians.

It is clear there is a keen awareness of the fragility of the local biophysical environment and the existential threat posed by climate change on livelihoods and the very survival of the nation and the population. As is evident, climate anxiety is up close and personal for all who live in the country. There is an acute awareness of the importance of protecting the environment to mitigate a potential catastrophe caused by rising sea levels.

While Maldivian authorities continue to develop domestic policies to mitigate the worst effects of climate change, these actions at the local level are woefully insufficient. The larger polluters worldwide also need to commit to real action in their pledges, and act now to reduce harmful emissions at the same time as they assist smaller nations to convert to and adapt to low carbon economies.

Image credit: savefainu

Tuvalu

We hope our video from Tuvalu will speak for itself. We are one of the most vulnerable nations in the world, facing a 2-meter rise in sea levels that will inundate our nation. Our plea to the international community highlights the fact that we are relational beings, what we do today one way or the other will affect people around us, people around the globe and even you and me, someday. Therefore, as global citizens, this is the time that we must work towards building a safe, healthy and resilient world so that one day we can proudly say, Yes ! We were the generation that made it happen – we set aside our differences and as a kaiga (family) we created this fantastic world for our children, our future.

This professionally developed video and the full, 90 minute, Zoom recording are also available on the Cabot YouTube Channel. See http://www.bristol.ac.uk/cabot/news/2021/soe-cop26.html.

 

———————————

This blog is written by Dame Pearlette Louisy; Dr Merle St Clair-Auguste; Dr Aminath Muna; Dr Aminath Shiyama; Dr Rosiana Lagi; and the ESSRG Leadership Team.

 

 

 

Undergraduate Open Week: Why study Psychology in Education at Bristol University?

Undergraduate Open Week 2021 special Q & A | Liv Fowler, Psychology in Education undergraduate student, School of Education, University of Bristol

Hello! Would you mind telling us a little bit about yourself?

Hi, my name is Liv and I study Psychology in Education at the School of Education, Bristol University,  and when I am not at university I live in Devon with my family.

While being home more this year I decided to train as an immuniser in the NHS to help vaccinate the country against Covid-19 which has been an amazing experience. I love spending time with my nephews Bertie and Hugo and I do have a slight obsession with Bubble Tea! (more…)

SoE undergraduate students Q&A: Molly and Simona

In this week’s blog, the School of Education spotlights two of our current undergraduate students, Simona Chen (BSc Education Studies) and Molly Fowler (BSc Psychology in Education).  Simona and Molly tell us why they chose the School of Education, their future plans, and offer tips for those thinking about studying education in Bristol. (more…)

National Careers Week 2021: Opportunities for students in the School of Education

National Careers Week 2021Blog from the School of Education

It’s National Careers Week 2021, and the School of Education blog is highlighting opportunities for our students to get involved and enhance their career prospects in a variety of different ways.

For many sectors, showcasing your voluntary work makes you stand out from others in a number of different ways. It shows you are:

 

  • Passionate about your field
  • You have a growth mindset
  • That you use your spare time proactively
  • You have developed networks and connections outside of your place of study
  • You have cultivated more than just role-related skills

(more…)

Completing your Masters application? Let the UoB Careers Service help!

Blog post from the University of Bristol Careers Service.

Having explored whether postgraduate study is an option for you, and weighed up the pros and cons, you’re now ready to submit your application… but where do you start?!

We often meet students and graduates that find making a start to this process overwhelming. This blog gives you a checklist to inspire you to make a start and provide you with resources that can help you to complete your application.  (more…)

Alumni share their career insights within Education

Blog from Bristol Alumni Digital Events Bristol Connects

On Tues 26 Jan 2021, our alumni volunteers shared their career stories with students and recent graduates. The event was part of our Bristol Connects Live series- our online series of career and professional development events. The session focused on careers within Education and our alumni experts shared their career stories and experiences to inspire students and recent graduates to help them understand more about the sector.

The event was hosted by Shanice Swales (BA 2014) who works as a Senior Policy Advisor in Higher Education Access and Admissions at The Department for Education. Shanice was joined on the panel by Abbigael Bainton (PGCE 2014/MSc 2018), Assistant Principal at the the Cabot Learning Federation. Mark Barrow (BSc 1995), Chief Executive Officer at the Seckford Education Trust and Dr Nigel Newton (PhD 2016), Lecturer, Education Consultant and Writer. (more…)

A working-class academic (and proud)!

By Sarah McLaughlin, BA(Hons), MSC. PGCE, School of Education, University of Bristol  (Doctorate in Education student)

I have found the School of Education very welcoming and my supervisors extremely encouraging and supportive…my experience during EdD taught modules is that students and staff have made me feel valued, included and accepted.

I have many roles – I am a mum of two boys, a sociology lecturer for an Access to Higher Education course and an A-level class. I am also a Doctorate in Education academic. I use the term academic because that is what I am and I am really proud of this, however I have never felt that I am a ‘real’ academic because I definitely suffer from imposter syndrome. Imposter syndrome is a psychological pattern whereby individuals feel they aren’t as intelligent or competent as others might think. For me, I think this impression comes from the fact that, due to my social class background, I have never felt that I have been a ‘real’ student. (more…)

Initial Teacher Education during a pandemic

The School of Education catches up with Beth McEwan, PGCE student, and trainee History teacher to ask her why she chose to undertake her PGCE (Initial Teacher Education) at the School of Education, University of Bristol, and the challenges of studying during a pandemic.

 Tell us about yourself and why you chose to become a history teacher.

I’m Beth and I recently graduated from Cardiff University, where I did my History degree. I’ve wanted to be a teacher since I was about 15 or 16, but I originally wanted to be a primary school teacher. After doing work experience in a primary school, and as I gradually fell more and more in love with History, I realised I would prefer to be a History teacher.

I also feel that the transferable skills gained through studying History are vital. Having the ability to look critically at the evidence and arguments surrounding you, and to frame your own interpretations based on evidence, is becoming increasingly important. If I can contribute to providing these skills to future students, and to help them achieve their ambitions, I’ll find my career deeply rewarding. (more…)

My Experience doing a Research Internship in the SoE

Ahanah Bhatnagar

Blog post by School of Education international student, Ahanah Bhatnagar.

Over this summer, Bristol University ran its first Widening Participation Research Summer Internship. Due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, the internship transitioned to run virtually, which suited me perfectly well as I was based at my residence in Hong Kong. My research project was a qualitative pilot study, where I was assigned as a research associate to Dr Lucy Wenham as she is the School of Education Widening Participation Officer and this was the first WP intern in the School of Education. (more…)