The Caribbean Vulnerable Communities (CVC) has embarked on a three (3) year project to revolutionise the approach to climate justice and human rights in the Caribbean. The project will run from September 2023 to September 2025 and is funded by the Open Society Foundation. The project promotes awareness of climate change and justice issues, positive values, and human rights, engaging some of the most marginalized citizens across the region.
In commenting on the project, CVC’s Executive Director Ivan Cruickshank says it falls under the orgaisation’s human rights advocacy strategic pillar aimed at improving the lives of members of key population groups across the Caribbean. “Climate justice isn’t an area that many CSOs do work in, but CVC thought it was critical to engage in this work as part of our human rights advocacy efforts. The approach we’ve taken is a collaborative one where the groups we are working with are engaged in discussions to help shape the issues being tackled. This approach helps communities foster participation through a citizen engagement programme. It also helps build capacity and strengthen strategies to mitigate climate change, inclusion, collaboration, solidarity, and positive interactions. This methodology is a tried and tested one. It was developed and adapted with the Canadian human rights organisation Equitas,” said Cruickshank.
The regional project sees CVC working with Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in Jamaica, Suriname, and the Dominican Republic to build their capacity in climate justice and the Citizens Engagement Program (CEP). Each of the local CSOs in turn, will identify and support local communities in each country, vulnerable to climate change. CVC’s Monitoring and Evaluation Head, Dr. John Waters, explains further, “With guidance from the project’s coordinator, the three local CSOs will operationalize the Climate Justice project in each country using the CEP methodology. CVC is conducting workshops in each country to introduce the local CSO implementing agencies and selected community groups in climate justice to the Citizen Engagement Program approach. The workshops also prepare them for a five-step process that will be necessary to formulate a joint action in each community.”
The five-step process includes:
Step 1- Exploring motivation. The community explores how and why they want to get involved in a citizen engagement project centered on climate justice.
Step 2 – Exploring the context. The community explores the climate change issues impacting their community and critically reflects on the issues they want to address together.
Step 3 – Targeting changes and planning for action. The community determines what they perceive to be “the ideal” with respect to the climate issue they will address and identify the necessary changes to achieve this ideal. The group will also decide on the actions they will undertake to promote the desired changes.
Step 4 – Taking action. The group carries out the actions in their community.
Step 5 – Monitoring and evaluating. The group monitors their plan, measures changes, documents results and identifies the next steps.
These steps bring the community together to discuss climate justice responses and develop community-level advocacy or action plans to engage local municipal authorities.
“It involves holding sensitization sessions with communities and vulnerable groups to build awareness about climate change and its effects on marginalized communities. The Citizens Engagement Program will be able to voice concerns about climate justice in the local community and offer solutions to the situation through carrying out a local joint action that will be funded and publicized by the project. CVC in conjunction with local partners will then develop and implement a regional “Why we care” campaign where we will collect the community level stories and action plans focused on building awareness on climate justice among vulnerable communities and civil society groups during the Citizens Engagement Program from the communities selected around the region,” said Dr. Waters.
Additionally, through developing and operationalizing a platform for collaborative learning on climate justice for inadequately served populations in the Caribbean, CVC will help build local capacity and share information about the local citizens engagement programs going on in specific communities and on how civil society groups are engaging in political decision-making on climate policies.