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Climate Justice and Leadership for Change in the Commonwealth

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Speakers
Dr Marlene Attzs
Dr Jimmy Fletcher
Harjeet Singh
Maxwell Gomera
Dr Emmanuel Ugirashebuja
Audrey Brown-Pereira
Date & Time
12:00pm, 21 June 2022 - 1:30pm, 21 June 2022
Location
Kigali, Rwanda
About the event

Overview

The effects of climate change are being felt throughout the Commonwealth, with some Member States experiencing global warming as a direct and immediate threat to their economies, their communities, and their way of life. As home to most of the world’s small island states, it is clear that the Commonwealth has a special responsibility to amplify their voices and build meaningful solidarity to protect their interests. How can the Commonwealth lead on climate issues that are of special relevance and importance to its member States? And how can civil society come together to identify priorities for action in the lead-up to COP27?

Consideration might be given to using this session and related Commonwealth-wide outreach to produce a statement affirming priorities and actions.

Context

The latest IPCC’s Sixth Assessment Report sounds a dire warning about the widespread and indiscriminate consequence of climate inaction. It now appears almost certain that, even with the most drastic action, irreversible damage has already been done. Heatwaves, droughts and floods are exceeding ecosystem thresholds and the ability of individual countries to manage weather extremes.

Progress on mitigation and adaptation is uneven and there are growing gaps between action taken and what needs to be done. Against a backdrop of limited progress at COP26, the international community is now facing increasing pressures on energy supplies which could see an increase in fossil fuel extraction and use at this critical juncture. New and bold ideas are desperately needed. COP27 cannot afford to fail.

Focusing on equity, justice and practical progress, this session – part panel discussion, part workshop – will seek to develop a plan of action for the Commonwealth at COP27, putting the needs of the most vulnerable front and centre.

Key questions for the session

Where are we now? What are the main findings of the IPCC report and how have recent geopolitical shifts affected those projections?

What are the pressure points? Do we need different and bolder ideas to shift the discussion on climate change? What could these be?

How can the Commonwealth lead towards Cop-27? What priorities should the Commonwealth be taking forward to Cop-27? How can the people of the Commonwealth and its institutions build their power in the multilateral space? What can we learn from previous and current coalitions and alliances? What needs to happen over the next 4-5 months to realise this plan?

Speakers
Dr Marlene Attzs Moderator
Dr Jimmy Fletcher Panellist
Harjeet Singh Panellist
Maxwell Gomera Panellist
Dr Emmanuel Ugirashebuja Panellist
Audrey Brown-Pereira Contributor
Moderator
Dr Marlene Attzs

Dr. Marlene Attzs is a Lecturer in Economics at the University of the West Indies (UWI), Trinidad and Tobago. She has served as Head of the Economics as well as Deputy Dean in the Faculty of Social Sciences, UWI. She has more than 20 years’ experience as an economist focussing primarily on the economics of sustainable development. She currently serves in an administrative capacity within the University, bringing to bear her academic skills to support the University’s strategic objectives.

Dr. Attzs’s research portfolio primarily focusses on sustainable economic development issues confronting Caribbean Island States. Her specific research interests include sustainable development, climate change adaptation, and gender mainstreaming. She has worked as a consultant in many Caribbean countries and also consulted for Governmental and Non-Governmental agencies in Trinidad and Tobago, regional institutions such as the Caribbean Development Bank and the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency, as well as internationally with the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) in Washington, D.C.

Between 2005 and 2006, Dr. Attzs was based at the IDB Headquarters in Washington as a Consultant in the Sustainable Development Division, with responsibility for coordinating the Bank’s Natural Disaster Network, which comprised the national focal points for disaster risk management across the Bank’s Member Countries in Latin America and the Caribbean.

She is currently one of the Foundation’s Civil Society Advisory Governors.

Panellist
Dr Jimmy Fletcher

Jimmy Fletcher was the Minister for Public Service, Information, Broadcasting, Sustainable Development, Energy, Science and Technology in Saint Lucia from 2011 to 2016. During his tenure, he led an aggressive modernization of the energy sector, commissioned modern ICT centres in several under-served communities, started a program for free island-wide Wi-Fi, developed a call centre for information on public service matters, and established an Employee Assistance Programme to provide free, confidential counselling to public officers. He played a leading role in the Caribbean’s ‘1.5 to Stay Alive’ civil society campaign and during the COP21 negotiations he was selected by the COP President to be part of the ministerial team that helped to achieve consensus on the elements of the Paris Agreement. He was recognized by Global Optimism in Profiles of Paris as one of the people who played a key role in creating the historic Paris Agreement. In 2019, he was selected by the United Kingdom’s Chevening Scholarship Program as one of 35 Global Changemakers. James currently manages his own company, SOLORICON. He wrote the book Governing in a Small Caribbean Island State and recently, he authored the chapter ‘The Battle for Small Island Developing States’ in the Cambridge University Press publication ‘Negotiating the Paris Agreement: The Insider Stories’. In 2020, he launched The Caribbean Climate Justice Project, which advocates for climate justice for the people most impacted by climate change. He holds a PhD degree in Plant Physiology (Cambridge) and a BSc (Hons) in Biochemistry (University of Ottawa).

Panellist
Harjeet Singh

Harjeet Singh is a global expert on the issues of climate impacts, migration, and adaptation. He has supported countries across the world on tackling climate change, coordinating emergency response and disaster resilience programmes. He is a Senior Advisor at Climate Action Network International and serves as Global Director – Engagement and Partnerships at the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty Initiative. He is a member of the United Nations’ Technical Expert Group on Comprehensive Risk Management under the Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage. Harjeet co-founded Satat Sampada, a social enterprise that promotes sustainable environmental solutions such as organic food and farming in India and beyond. He has served as a board member of Climate Action Network International (CAN-I) and the Global Network of Civil Society Organisations for Disaster Reduction (GNDR).

Panellist
Maxwell Gomera

Maxwell Gomera, a Zimbabwe national, joins the UNDP Rwanda office from UN Environment where he was the Director of the Biodiversity and Land Branch since 2016. He is a resource economist with over 20 years’ experience in nature conservation and agricultural development. 

He has worked on economic development issues, including part of a team that developed the ‘Global Green New Deal’ for reviving the global economy and boosting employment in response to the financial and economic crisis of 2008. He has also worked with governments and corporates from across the world on issues, including tourism development, human rights and wildlife management.

Panellist
Dr Emmanuel Ugirashebuja

Emmanuel Ugirashebuja is the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Republic of Rwanda. He is a former President of the East African Court of Justice. He is a Dean Emeritus of the National University of Rwanda Faculty of Law and has given lectures on diverse subjects of law to various well-renowned universities worldwide.

He was Awarded a Lifetime Appointment as a Distinguished Fellow & Eminent Jurist at Jindal Global Law School, OP, Jindal Global University India as “exemplar jurist and contribution of law and Justice which have transcended geographical boundaries and jurisdictional limitation”; the 2019 Bright International- Jurist- in Residence University of Hawai’i School of Law.

Dr. Ugirashebuja holds a PhD and LLM awarded by the University of Edinburgh and a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Rwanda.

Contributor
Audrey Brown-Pereira

Audrey Brown-Pereira (1975) is an innovative poet who plays with text on the page and performs words in the air/ ear. Her poetry collections include ‘Threads of Tivaevae: Kaleidoskope of Kolours’ with Veronica Vaevae by Steele Roberts and ‘Passages in Between I(s)lands’ by Ala Press. Currently working on her third collection ‘a-wake-(e)nd’ with independent publishers Saufo’i Press. Audrey’s poems appear in several anthologies including ‘Vā: Stories by Women of the Moana’ and ‘ Indigenous Pacific Islander Eco-Literatures’. She is of Cook Islands Maori and Samoan descent, born on the island of Rarotonga and raised in New Zealand. She lives in Samoa with her family and works for an environmental organisation that serves the Pacific region.

Her poem, ‘they taking pictures of us in the water’, will be shown at the end of this session.

Discussion
Location
Kigali, Rwanda
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