Introducing Kevin Morgan!
“Imagine a textbook written in an indecipherable language, a blackboard without chalk, or four students sharing a desk… this is my story,” writes SAGE Scholar Kevin Morgan. “Every child must be given equal access to education resources, forging a spirit of hope and prosperity.”
Kevin’s passion and enthusiasm distinguished him from SAGE’s large applicant pool this year. Inspired by Mahatma Ghandi, Kevin hopes to ‘be the changes he wishes to see,’ fighting inequality in his community and his country. Starting the Law program at the University of Guyana this fall, Kevin will be equipped for the front line of that battle, where he plans to become not only involved in the legislative process, in order to sculpt ‘laws that are aimed at alleviating the plight and condition of the poorer class citizens,’ but to continue to serve in his community by tutoring young students who are reading below their level.
“…the challenges tomorrow will bring Guyana’s way are the greatest of its 45 years and my lifetime. These challenges must be met with optimism, unyielding hope, and a strong bond of affection between each and every single Guyanese…” We welcome Kevin to the SAGE scholarship program, and look forward to watching his bright future unfold.
The following is an excerpt from an essay that Kevin wrote for his International Law class at the University of Guyana. Please note that the opinions expressed in this work are his own and do not serve as the views of SAGE, its Board of Directors, or its donors.
Small states, influencing global response to climate change
It is no debate, that when it comes to global warming and its effect- climate change; small states, more so, those developing economies like Guyana, have championed the cause of a better world not as a matter of international concern, but rather out of necessity.
The issue of rising sea level for example was first advanced by the small state of Antigua at the United Nations (UN). In 2004, when small states like Guyana expressed concerns over food security, the United Nations General Assembly was sound asleep, and only awakened when Iraq, Israel, and Lebanon were mentioned.
Why concerns were expressed by such small states about climate change and its effects.
To most of the world the effects of climate change are: an increase in food- prices as a result of poor yields etc.; environmental impacts such as rising sea levels; damage to eco-systems; increasing rainfalls or decreasing rainfalls in certain parts of the world; malnutrition and starvation in lesser developed countries; increasing number and stronger magnitude hurricanes; and stronger resistant traits in vector borne disease (malaria and Dengue fever).
But to small states like Guyana, the effect is much larger. The Stern Review (2007), product of the UN inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), reported that between 1951 to 1979 (28 years), the sea level in Guyana rose by 10.2 mm as compared to a world average 3.1 mm between 1961-2003 (42 years); the country’s coastline lies 0.5 m to 1m below sea level with 90% of the population inhabiting this region. More so, 75% of economic activities takes place in this region. These are concerns of not only Guyana, but many other small coastal states.
As such, what are the response of these countries at the international level to climate change?
The Kyoto Protocol
In 1997, in Kyoto Japan, the world’s super powers formulated what became known as the Kyoto Protocol. This instrument of international accreditation, established time lines for the countries to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases emitted. In 2004, the George Bush administration expressed its unwillingness to continue to invest in realising the obligations of the protocol. Like most international treaties, the Kyoto Protocol lacked the adequate means of enforceability and thus allowed the United States to renege on its obligations bring the protocol to an end.
On such grounding, small states recognising the existential danger of climate change to their societies had to find a better solution towards adequately addressing such concern. In 2005, led by Puerto Rico and Papua New Guinea among others; it was acknowledged that the world economic power houses had no interest in addressing climate change. A committee was established, primarily by rainforest countries, to report to those participating states (since there was no organisation or formal arrangement between the parties). In late 2005, Reducing Emission from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) was proposed. In 2007, these states, unlike the developers of the Kyoto Protocol, recognised the need to provide incentives and financial support to member states, and the need to create such institution that will realise the implementation of REDD. This came in the form of REDD+, which simply is technological, financial, research and methodological support for member states.
In 2009, the initiative of these small states was adapted by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (UN IPCC), in Copenhagen, Denmark at a conference where Guyana was well represented. REDD+ was there adapted and acknowledged as a global model and one of the most advanced towards addressing climate change. From this model came the mechanism: the low Carbon development strategy [LCDs], the brain child of Bharat Jagdeo- Former President of Guyana, a small state in every meaning of the term on the mainland of South America that is rarely spoken of in the international domain.
Today, the LCDs of Guyana are accepted as a superlative model towards the reduction of greenhouse gases and the development of the economy. This strategy is captured by a memorandum of understanding between the Government of Guyana and the Kingdom of Norway, achieved further international recognition by the UN IPCC.
This advancement in international relations achieved by small states, attests to the reality of small states’ effective decision making power at the international level. This example of REDD, REDD+, and the LCDs are all initiatives of small states which have an unquestionable impact on decision making at the international level and which are sound, effective and meaningful in addressing not issues of American or European concern, but issues reflecting their local circumstances.