The Caribbean Community (CARICOM, consisting of fifteen member states and five associate member states of the Caribbean region) represents one of the most biologically diverse regions on the planet. These Small Island Developing States are facing pressing threats including loss of biodiversity, and are extremely vulnerable to the effects of climate change, such as frequent and intense hurricanes, subsequent flooding and erosion, and rising sea level, that threaten livelihoods and human well-being
On the occasion of the Second Japan-CARICOM Ministerial-Level Conference held in Tokyo, on 2 September 2010 a Japan-CARICOM Public Symposium on Climate Change and Biodiversity was organized by the United Nations University (UNU), Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan (MOFA) and Inter-American Development Bank (IADB), and supported by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). This public dialogue, held in the United Nations University U Thant Hall in Tokyo, convened Caribbean ministerial level and Japanese senior academics and experts to exchange views on the Caribbean region’s urgent climate change and biodiversity issues, as well as on issues of Caribbean society, economy and culture. Particpants also explored future cooperation between CARICOM and Japan
The symposium began with opening remarks by Shuji Kira (Parlimentary Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan), Konrad Osterwalder (UNU Rector) and Yoshihisa Ueda (Representative of the IDB Office in Asia). Keynote speakers were Louis Straker (Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Commerce and Trade, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines), Maxine McClean (Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Barbados), Charles Peter David (Minister for Foreign Affairs and Tourism, Grenada) and Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett (Minister of Foreign Affairs, Republic of Guyana).
Key outcomes of the symposium include recognition of a sense of urgency in addressing the issues facing the Caribbean; recognition of the importance of capacity building as a pillar for climate change adaptation in the Caribbean; identification of the potential for cooperation in use of technology, training and knowledge transfer for climate change adaptation; and a willingness by the organizers to further engage in the region.