News - The UWI's Climate Action in focus at COP26

The UWI's Climate Action in focus at COP26

As the UN COP26 summit on Climate Change continues, The University of the West Indies (The UWI) has been centre among many of the major conversations given its distinctive strategic role in providing the technical expertise and climate action advocacy for the Caribbean region.

The UWI currently serves as the global leader mobilising the International Association of Universities’ Global University Consortium on SDG 13 (Climate Action) and has a leading role in a specialised network known as the Commonwealth Climate Resilience Network (CCRN) — established by the Association of Commonwealth Universities. The UWI was recently invited to become a member of the International Universities Climate Alliance (the Climate Alliance). Established in 2020, it includes 48 world-class climate research universities across 21 countries globally. The UWI joins the Alliance, sharing in its vision to be ‘a global source of trusted communication on scientific research and evidence-based practice on climate change science, impacts, adaptation and mitigation’, and supporting its series of public events and outreach focussed on helping the public understand the IPCC reporting and policy commitments in the lead up to and beyond COP26.

Providing the best scientific research to tackle climate change has long been a priority for The UWI; the regional university’s scientists have been sounding the alarm for almost five decades. Thirteen UWI scientists have contributed to the IPCC Sixth Assessment cycle to produce the three-volume global assessment report, known as “The Sixth Report” and “Three Special Reports”, which will be presented at COP26.

Here's a roundup of some activities and content related to The UWI’s involvement at the COP26:

UWI Scientists make representation for CARICOM as the world meets at COP26

The Caribbean has a lot at stake as world leaders and technical experts meet for the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference. “The outcomes from the November 1-12 COP26 can have profound impacts on our earth as we know it, and many view it as the last best chance for political leaders to avert a climate catastrophe, which would be unavoidable if global warming exceeds 1.5°C,” says Professor Michael Taylor, Climate Scientist at The University of the West Indies (The UWI).


This Friday, Nov. 5, COP26 Side Event: Transitioning to the Blue Economy panel discussion ft. Dr Donovan Campbell, Head of Department, Geography & Geology, The UWI Mona Campus

Join in the Transitioning to the Blue Economy panel discussion on Friday, November 5, from 11:00 a.m. Eastern Caribbean/AST | 10:00 a.m. Jamaica via this link:

Delivered in partnership with the Association of Commonwealth Universities, this COP26 Side event features Dr Donovan Campbell, Head of Department, Geography & Geology, The University of the West Indies, Mona Campus. The Blue Economy plays an essential role in climate change mitigation and adaptation for Small Island Developing States (SIDS).

The Government of Antigua and Barbuda has committed to transitioning to a Blue Economy – reducing overreliance on tourism and supporting sustainable and resilient economic development. A key pillar of this is the establishment of a Centre of Excellence in Oceanography and the Blue Economy at The University of the West Indies’ Five Islands Campus, strengthening marine science and blue economy education and research across the Eastern Caribbean.

This high-level panel will showcase Antigua and Barbuda’s strategy for transitioning to the Blue Economy, explore the role that higher education can play in realising this transition, and highlight opportunities for partners to engage in this work.

UWI Scientist, Dr Hugh Sealy leads technical advisory support at COP26

Dr. Hugh Sealy, lecturer on climate change and water resources management at The UWI’s Centre for Resource Management and Environmental Studies (CERMES) at Cave Hill, Barbados serves in significant roles at COP26. He is the technical lead of the Barbados delegation and is also the lead negotiator for the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), charged with coordinating AOSIS positions on matters related to raising the mitigation ambition of all countries to limit global warming to less than 1.5 degrees Celsius, and a co-facilitator of the negotiations under Article 6 of the Paris Agreement.

Dr. Sealy is currently in Glasgow participating in key meetings and providing technical advisory support to the Barbados delegation. Commenting live on the progress in this first week, he said, “Parties must move beyond restating positions and must now find compromises and landing zones.”

‘From vulnerability to resilience: Caribbean higher education institutions actioning the call’ | Feature on the role of universities in climate action authored by UWI, Disaster Risk Management Specialist, Jeremy Collymore.

“Higher Education Institutions are essential contributors to the Caribbean’s resilience agenda and, through engaging in wider dialogue on disaster risk reduction, can help to save both lives and livelihoods. Given the short time frame in which the 1.5°C rise in global temperature may be realised (by 2030), our attention to adaptation must be accelerated and intensified. Whilst this could impact the nature of negotiations and outcomes of COP26, Caribbean HEIs must accelerate their support of the adaptation agenda.”

This says Jeremy Collymore, Disaster Risk Management Specialist and Honorary Research Fellow, The UWI Institute of Sustainable Development, and Co-Convenor of the ACU’s Commonwealth Climate Resilience Network.

In this latest ACU blog, he discusses the important role of universities in climate action, and how The UWI and other Caribbean higher education institutions are facing up to the climate resilience challenge.


The COP26 Futures We Want project | Profile for Jamaica authored by UWI experts

The COP26 Futures We Want project released its findings just before the start of the international climate summit in Glasgow. These visions, commissioned in 2021 by the UK in their role as COP26 President, aim to explore what the future could look like in a climate-resilient, net-zero world.

They highlight some of the innovations that could make this future a reality, and explore what science can tell us about the wide-ranging benefits of achieving this future.

The visions cover a series of cross-cutting themes and six regions: The Arabian Peninsula (specifically focused on the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates), Brazil, India, Jamaica, Kenya, and the UK. They were chosen to reflect the diversity of challenges and opportunities in building a sustainable future.

The regional profile for Jamaica developed with input from our UWI academic experts Professor Michael Taylor, Dr David Smith and Rajne Reynolds sets out a synthesis of the available evidence base on regional challenges and opportunities for mitigation, adaptation, and resilience measures associated with climate change and a global transition to an inclusive, desirable, and resilient net-zero future.

Learn more at

The UWI Launches Caribbean’s first Global Climate Smart Institute

One month ahead of COP26, The UWI launched its Global Institute for Climate-Smart and Resilient Development (GICSRD), a first-of-its-kind for the Caribbean virtual hub which consolidates The UWI’s research and teaching on climate change, disaster risk reduction, resilience and sustainable development; and a manifestation of a collective regional and ONE UWI in action. Several members of the GICSRD Management Committee, have been central to discussions and events related to the COP26 summit. Among them Executive Director, GICRSD, Professor John Agard, Professor Michael Taylor, Dr Donovan Campbell, Jeremy Collymore and Dr. Hugh Sealy.

Read more about the launch of The UWI’s first global climate smart institute at

One Ocean Expedition

Just as COP26 draws to its end, the 107-year-old 98-meter-long Statsraad Lehmkuhl sail training vessel will be docking in Kingston Jamaica from November 13 to 17. The floating university brings crews of students and young leaders together, combined with various high level meetings and public events during its port visit. The main goal of this ‘One Ocean Expedition’ is to create attention and share knowledge about the ocean´s crucial role for a sustainable future in a global perspective. The expedition is a recognised part of the UN Decade, and the ship will serve as a powerful tool for outreach, inspiration and engagement for the ocean, contributing in particular to the Societal Outcome 7 of the Decade: An inspiring and engaging ocean.

Specifically birthed by The UWI’s collaboration with University of Bergen through its Global University Consortium on SDG-13, this partnership brokered by the Office of Global Partnerships and Sustainable Futures will include the signing of an MOU between The UWI and University of Bergen, a special port stop at a UWI campus territory, a tour of UWI Mona’s Port Royal Marine Lab, a knowledge exchange forum hosted by Mona Campus, participation of UWI students as well as UWI faculty from the Mona and St. Augustine Campuses in the One Ocean field course webinar series and two UWI Mona student researchers on board the state-of-the-art Norwegian ship, Statsraad Lehmkuhl, for this historic research expedition.

Will COP26 be the turning point on climate?

What do you know about climate change? Does it worry you? How do you think it might affect your community and your livelihood? COP26, the United Nations climate change conference being held in Glasgow, UK, will bring together leaders from nearly every country on Earth – politicians, scientists, activists, and celebrities. But, we want to hear from communities. What do you think? This 15-minute survey, commissioned by the International Universities Climate Alliance, of which The UWI is a member, will help researchers and educators understand climate literacy across all communities, large and small, in every corner of the world. Play your part by sharing your Caribbean perspectives and experiences in this global survey. Survey link here