KINGSTON, Jamaica — The Caribbean island of Jamaica is just one of many small island developing states under threat due to the impacts of climate change. In 2018, the region experienced 15 Atlantic storms and eight hurricanes. This year Hurricane Dorian was among the strongest, registering at a category 5 and significantly affecting Jamaica’s neighbors. And the island itself is experiencing increasing rainfall, droughts, and extreme winds.
"It's just a matter of time before we're hit by something like that with the current [weather] changes we're expecting," said Suzanne Stanley, CEO of the Jamaica Environment Trust, an NGO that runs environmental education and advocacy programs in an attempt to safeguard Jamaica from the effects of climate change.
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The unpredictability is having an impact on the agricultural sector, Stanley added, as well as the island’s coast and wetlands often relied upon for livelihoods.
Because of their remote geographies, SIDs are particularly exposed to rising sea levels and natural disasters, and often lack the financial resources and international support needed to tackle some of the damaging effects of climate change. Yet these nations are some of the least responsible for emissions and climate change-related threats.
Through a new audio series, Devex will be speaking to people like Stanley living on SIDs about how climate change is affecting their countries and ask what innovative solutions they’re implementing to tackle it.
To kick off this series, Devex sat down with Stanley to find out more about the work of JET and why it sees education as being key to combating climate impacts.
"It starts with young people, it starts with youth," she said, adding that without an appreciation of the environment it’s difficult to recognize the changes that are happening.
Visit the Turning the Tide series for more coverage on climate change, resilience building, and innovative solutions in small island developing states. You can join the conversation using the hashtag #TurningtheTide.