To address climate change, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was opened for signature at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 1992. It explicitly recognized that “the Earth’s climate change and its adverse effects are a common concern of humankind.” A total of 197 countries became parties to the convention, and since 1995, they have been holding annual meetings known as the “Conference of Parties” (COP) , hosted by different countries, to discuss how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The goal is to make “decarbonization” an obligation and use the power of nations to mitigate global warming and reduce threats to the environment.
The COP28, scheduled to be held in the United Arab Emirates this year, has garnered international attention. 《The Icons》had the privilege of interviewing Dr. Gale T C Rigobert, Dean of Academics, University of St. Martin. She also is the former Deputy Political Leader of Saint Lucia United Workers Party, holding that position from 2013 to 2023, and the former Minister for Education, Innovation, Gender Relations, and Sustainable Development of Saint Lucia, with responsibility for climate change.
Rising sea levels vs. island nations – a pressing issue
Bolivian President Luis Arce raised the provocative concept of “new carbon colonialism” during the COP26 conference. He argued that developed countries, while being major carbon emitters, simultaneously use “green” initiatives to gloss over the crisis and allow the capitalist system to expand. At the same time, they are reluctant to provide sufficient financial support and technology transfer to less developed countries with higher carbon emissions, all while imposing environmental restrictions in the name of “conservation.”
As a leader of a developing country, former Minister Rigobert sees high hopes for the participation of various nations in COP28, especially those island nations most affected by climate change. However, she emphasized her expectations for this year, stating, “In addition to further promoting the development of renewable energy sources, we also hope that these major carbon emitters can take concrete actions in terms of finance and technology transfer.”
Furthermore, former Minister Rigobert believes that COP28 will see greater involvement from civil society organizations, non-governmental organizations, and particularly youth organizations. She has consistently stressed the importance of inclusivity when addressing global environmental issues, emphasizing that everyone’s voice must be heard. She also welcomes increased public scrutiny because only when more eyes monitor governments and international corporations will they take a more serious stance on sustainability.
When discussing Saint Lucia, former Minister Rigobert expressed pride in the country’s unwavering commitment to addressing climate change, regardless of which political party is in power. She highly commended the government’s stable implementation of laws to combat climate change and shared her optimism about the increasing involvement of women in Saint Lucia, which aligns with SDGs5 on gender equality.
ESG should not be just top-down
During the interview, 《The Icons》asked how former Minister Rigobert views the integration of ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) from a top-down perspective. She provided a novel perspective:
“Whether it’s top-down or bottom-up, the ultimate goal is the same – achieving ESG. Officials and scholars should not merely sit in ivory towers discussing this; they should consider whether the methods can be implemented on the ground. If the end goal is the same, why not combine both approaches?”
former Minister Rigobert emphasized that using just one strategy might not yield the desired results and that the importance of people’s perceptions is often overlooked when addressing socio-economic issues.
Finally, former Minister Rigobert shared with us, “I hope that global media continues to report on climate-related issues continuously, rather than only covering them when extreme events occur. This will raise public awareness and positively influence climate policies in various countries.”
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