Civil society in Trinidad and Tobago is urging accelerated action on climate change for sustainable development and COVID-19 recovery. Thirty civil society priorities for climate action were delivered as part of the newly launched Trinidad and Tobago Civil Society Report: Spotlight on Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 13 Climate Action. The report, which highlights inadequate progress and the critical need for ramping up efforts to address climate change, was released on Monday, June 15, 2020, at a virtual launch event hosted by the Caribbean Natural Resources Institute (CANARI).
Developed with inputs from 53 civil society organisations (CSOs) working across the SDGs and in diverse sectors, the landmark civil society report comes as the Trinidad and Tobago Government is preparing to present its Voluntary National Review (VNR) on progress in implementing the SDGs at the United Nations High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development in July 2020.
While the Trinidad and Tobago Government is reporting on a number of other SDGs in addition to SDG 13, civil society actors recognised climate change as a cross cutting sustainable development issue warranting increased attention and urgent integrated action across sectors to address. This is especially important given the vulnerability associated with Trinidad and Tobago’s status as a small island developing state.
CANARI and the SDGs Catalysts Network (a network of 21 leading CSOs) convened under the recently concluded CSOs for Good Governance project (2017-2020), mobilised CSOs to develop the report, with financial support of the European Union and the Green Climate Fund. Participating CSOs engaged in cross cutting analysis of climate change in 5 key thematic areas: Gender & equality; Sustainable cities & communities; Energy & responsible consumption & production; Biodiversity; and Health, water & food security. The result was a scorecard of 30 priorities to accelerate climate action, including a ranking of the level of progress in achieving them, as assessed by civil society.
The process for developing the report is being viewed by some as a potential model for more meaningful civil society engagement in development in Caribbean countries. Ultimately, it is hoped the report will encourage increased consideration for how civil society can be a strong partner to government for a ‘whole of society’ approach to climate action. CANARI urged the Government to consider the report as part of the submission for the official Trinidad and Tobago VNR which is soon to be published. (Read a copy of the full report below)