IOM Caribbean supports civil society collaboration on environmental migration and disaster displacement issues

Photo: IOM/2024

Paramaribo, Suriname, 4 March 2024 – Representatives from 21 civil society organizations (CSOs) working in 9 Caribbean countries gathered in Suriname from 29 February to 1 March to cooperate and strengthen their skills to address challenges related to migration and climate change, which has become an urgent issue in the Caribbean.

The participants, who are engaged in grassroots work and advocacy with and for vulnerable and marginalized groups, exchanged knowledge and experiences, learned from technical presentations, and proposed actions to build resilience in the communities they work with.

Data from 2023 [Source]  shows that between 2012 and 2022, disasters in the Caribbean displaced 5.3 million people internally. Events including hurricanes, floods, landslides and volcanic eruptions made Caribbean people leave their usual places of living. These sudden movements have affected people and communities socially, economically and psychologically, making it harder for them to cope and recover. CSOs play an important role in planning for and responding to these disasters, to reduce the negative impacts on communities.

The Conference aimed to increase their skills and awareness to participate in discussions on this topic. Eduard Michel of ADRA Curacao shared: “We learned approaches of other countries [who] also are facing the same challenges, how they are creative, how they are using the [international] standards in a local context, to solve the issues. So it was very interesting for us, for me especially, because I am more equipped to bring all of this knowledge back to our office in Curacao.”

CSO representatives and technical experts presented on topics such as data and knowledge management, governance, disaster preparedness, and urbanization, sharing knowledge and experience across sectors and agendas, to help improve the conditions of vulnerable populations with cross-cutting methods. The participants, who are each experts in advocacy for the rights of migrants, people with disabilities, gender, LGBTIQ+, indigenous, and youth rights related to environmental actions, said the conference presented them with different perspectives and was a chance for networking and regional collaboration on climate mobility challenges and solutions.

Terry Ince, CEDAW Committee of Trinidad and Tobago (CCoTT) reflected on the Conference:

“These two days also gave me the opportunity to meet with colleagues across the region that’s doing similar work so that we can now collaborate in a manner that will aggregate the resources of the diminishing resources that we have. And those resources include people, the knowledge that they have, the experiences they have.”

The event was organized with the support of the Republic of France through the project “Caribbean Component: Implementing Global Policies on Environmental Migration and Disaster Displacement at the Regional Level” implemented by IOM’s Coordination Office for the Caribbean.

Patrice Quesada, Coordinator of IOM Caribbean expressed that “What we hope that we’ve been able to convey as a message representing the UN system, the international community, is that basically, you are not alone for that process.”

IOM and the UN system, with the support of donors including the French Government, are committed to supporting the essential role of civil society in representation and advocacy, ensuring that no one is left behind. The Global Compact for Migration, expressed in Sustainable Development Goal 10.7 and which guides good migration practices, encourages this inclusive, all-of-society approach to decision making processes, as Caribbean countries work to address the impacts of climate change on human mobility in the region, one of the most exposed in the world to the impacts of climate change and environmental disasters.




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