More than 350 people are expected to attend a conference on Climate Change in the Caribbean this week in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
The government of the U.S. Virgin Islands is joining the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Department of Interior and governments of Puerto Rico to host the conference.
The conference features dignitaries and scientists from many Caribbean islands and the U.S. who will explore the consequences of climate change to the region. Participants will discuss the progress that has already been made to address climate change and the need for further action, according to a news release from the EPA.
The conference will highlight recent success stories in preparing for and responding to the effects of climate variability and change in the Caribbean; review new advances in Caribbean climate science; promote tools and strategies that support climate adaptation and mitigation activities; and inspire further collaboration in responding to challenges of climate change in the Caribbean, the news release said.
During the conference, a memorandum of understanding will be signed between the governments of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. EPA officials also will sign the document cementing a commitment to share expertise to address climate change in the Caribbean.
The conference opened Tuesday and will continue Wednesday at the Inter-American University of Puerto Rico School of Law.
Among conference presenters are Carlos Fuller, Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre, Belize; Jean Yves LA cascade, special advisor to the president, Territorial Diplomatic Mission; regional council of Martinique, Shawn-Michael Malone, Office of the Governor of the Virgin Islands; Alejandro De la Camp, Caribbean area director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency; Mona Barnes, director of the VI Emergency Management Agency; Augustin Carbo, chairman of the Puerto Rico Energy Commission, along with José Maeso, director of the Puerto Rico Energy Affairs Administration; and Johann Clendenin, chairman of the V.I. Public Service Commission.
“This conference reminds us of something very important when we talk about climate change: we are not alone in this fight," said Gov. Alejandro García Padilla of Puerto Rico. "I think we can qualify it as the largest cooperative effort, until now, between the governments of the United States, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands to prepare for the great challenges that climate change may bring.”
“We have before us a historic opportunity to show the world how our islands can cope and grow in adversity,” García Padilla said. “At the end of the day, many of the challenges are the same: droughts, hurricanes and coastal erosion recognizes no borders."
V.I. Gov. Kenneth Mapp seconded that sentiment.
"I am pleased to join Governor Garcia Padilla and key federal agencies in this continued effort to achieve resilient communities in the face of present and increasing impacts of climate change in our respective jurisdictions," Mapp said. "I am personally and morally committed to this challenge and deeply encouraged by the collaboration I see resulting in this very important conference on climate change in the U.S. Caribbean.”