Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, after years of climate change related effects, was devastated by the severe weather disasters of 2010 and 2011. In response, Richmond Vale Academy (RVA) took decisive action by initiating a program called “The Saint Vincent Climate Compliance Conference 2012 – 2021” (CCC).
This program has been the platform of need, from which a springboard of hope has been built; to enable and empower several groups and communities. People have dived into action for positive climate change - for example:
- 25.000 trees have been planted.
- Farmers have been supported by using more sustainable agriculture techniques.
- 15.000 students across SVG have been taught hundreds of lessons.
- 20.000 climate compliance newspapers have been produced and distributed.
- The first 30 of 200 sustainable Home Gardens have been started.
- 50 people from St. Vincent have been awarded scholarships to join 2-4 weeks live in courses at the Academy
- 5 biogas digesters have been set up at farms, schools and homes in North Leeward
- 800-1000 people visit the Academy annualy and part take in the "Sustainability Tour"
Furthermore, lessons on global warming and climate change have been given to 3.000 people visiting the Academy and to another 5.000 students and teachers at universities and colleges in Colombia, Guyana, Costa Rica, USA, England, Germany, Denmark, Norway, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and Jamaica.
During these years, the CCC has impacted upon the lives of 50.000 people in Saint Vincent and abroad.
RVA’s vision of a “Climate Compliant” Saint Vincent falls under 3 key areas.
Food and water compliance: Healthy food and water security
St. Vincent will be food compliant when:
- It is able to sustain itself with basic foods like staples from yam, dasheen, plantain, and cassava along with a basic variety of vegetables, fish and some meat which are all organically produced.
- Farming has adapted to the changing climate with more sustainable agricultural methods such as intercropping, less chemical use, less tilling and more composting.
- Marine reserves are protected and fishing is sustainable. A water security ensures that:
- All people have equal access to safe water reserves when disasters destroy the public pipelines.
- All farmers have a water collection and an irrigation system to secure on-going production.
- Compost toilets and low water usage toilets are in use to save water in dry seasons and when water pipelines are down.
Energy compliance: Production and use of renewable and carbon neutral energy
An Energy Compliant St. Vincent:
- Produces all its energy from renewable resources:
- Hydro (20%)
- Geothermal (60%)
- Solar and other sources (20%)
- People use carbon neutral sources for cooking such as biogas.
- Electrical cars and solar water heaters are highly used.
By 2021, the country is likely to be 90% climate compliant with energy through hydro, solar and geothermal.
Preparedness for climate change: Resilience and adaptation are embedded into cultural norms
To be ready for climate change:
- Vetiver grass, trees, mangroves and other vegetation have been planted across SVG to protect against sea level rise, soil erosion and landslides.
- Climate change adaptation and mitigation subjects are added to the curriculum in the 100 government schools.
- Pollution from plastic and other trash is reduced and is prevented from ending up on beaches and in the ocean as well as blocking drains and rivers.
- The population has moved from high-risk areas like the oceanfront and river banks.
- For emergencies:
- Affordable housing models to rebuild homes have been created.
- A manifold communication system is intact.
- Community groups are trained and mobilised to help people in need.
- Emergency shelters and clinics are well equipped.
- Emergency systems are in place to transport injured people to hospitals by boat when roads are blocked.
In spite of these and many other challenges; such as high unemployment rates, few opportunities for higher education and various social issues; the people of SVG are making steady steps towards a more sustainable future. More and more people are aware of the dangers of climate change and are getting involved.
In many ways, SVG has the potential to model itself as a pioneering food secure, carbon neutral nation that is ready for climate change.
There is a strong political will to change. In response to the projected climate change effects and the actual onslaught of hurricanes, rainfalls, and droughts; the Government of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines prepared an “Initial National Communication” for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). In addition, as part of the “Mainstreaming and Adaptation to Climate Change” project, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines undertook to develop and mainstream climate change adaptation strategies into its sustainable development agenda. A National Climate Change Adaptation Strategy, National Disaster Management Plan, and a National Environment Management Strategy are also reported to have been established.