November 21, 2019

UWI academics contribute to new IPCC special report on climate change and land


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Regional Headquarters, . Friday, August 16, 2019—The , the United Nations body for assessing the science related to , has just released its findings and recommendations on and land and three academics from The University of the West Indies (The ) are contributors to the global report.

Entitled Climate Change and Land: An IPCC Special Report, the Summary for Policymakers was approved earlier this month in Geneva, Switzerland by representatives of the world’s governments. This Special Report on Climate Change and Land (SRCLL) is the second of three special reports that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is preparing during its current Sixth Assessment Report cycle. The first special report, Global Warming of 1.5°C, was approved and released in September 2018—UWI staff also played a significant role in authoring it. The third report, examining Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate, is expected to be released in September 2019.

Of particular concern, is the devastating impact that global warming is having on the Caribbean. This includes coastal erosion resulting from sea level rise and tropical hurricanes, which greatly threaten lives and livelihoods in the region. Small island nations are also facing the degradation of ecosystems, both marine and land, which may harm industries on which we rely, such as fishing and farming. Overall, the Caribbean is particularly vulnerable to greater health, environmental and economic challenges because of these climate and land changes.

Dr. Adrian Spence (International Centre for Environmental and Nuclear Sciences, The UWI Mona) was a lead author on Chapter One of the Special Report on Climate Change and Land, “Framing and Context”; Dr. Donovan Campbell (Geography and Geology, The UWI Mona) was a lead author on Chapter Six, “Interlinkages between desertification, land degradation, food security and greenhouse gas fluxes”; and Professor Noureddine Benkeblia (Life Sciences, The UWI Mona) was a review editor for Chapter Five, “Food Security”.

As explained by Dr. Spence, “Land is a critical resource for human livelihood and development, providing food, fresh water and other ecosystem services. However, land is under growing pressure and climate change is exacerbating this pressure. Notwithstanding that, land may offer some solutions to limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees, but we must act now.” Other critical themes addressed in the report include: land as a resource; desertification and land degradation; food security; and land and climate change responses.

The UWI is also proud that it has nine academics currently contributing to the IPCC. They are members of three international working groups mandated to produce a three-volume global assessment report, known as “the sixth report” and “three special reports”. The academics are Professor Michelle Mycoo (coordinating lead author on a chapter on small islands); Dr. Tannecia Stephenson; Dr. Donovan Campbell; Dr. Adrian Spence; Professor Michael Taylor; Professor Noureddine Benkeblia; Dr. Michael Sutherland; Dr. Aidan Farrell; and Professor John Agard.

In addition to this achievement, The UWI has made significant impact in the global effort to reduce climate change in several other ways. Earlier this year, the International Association of Universities (IAU) selected The UWI as its global leader in the mobilisation of research and advocacy for the achievement of a climate-smart world. The UWI was designated the lead institution for a Global University Consortium on SDG 13 (Climate Action). This designation recognised the significant contributions the University has made to the issue through decades of research and advocacy.

In July 2019 when policy makers and academics around the world met at the United Nations’ High-Level Political Forum 2019 (HLPF) on Sustainable Development, The UWI was centre stage in these discussions. It included The UWI co-hosting a symposium themed, Research and Innovation 4 Climate Action, which showcased research initiatives of members of the Global University Consortium on SDG 13 and highlighted the synergies between SDGs 4, 13 and 17.

Later in July, The UWI also hosted the first-ever meeting of universities across the Commonwealth to collaborate on climate challenges and resilience in their countries. This involved collaboration between representatives from approximately 500 institutions in 50 countries.

The UWI’s participation in the battle against climate change is part of its efforts to aid in developing a culture of resilience and resilience planning in the Caribbean, reflected in its Triple A Strategy (Strategic Plan 2017–2022).

For more about the Special Report on Climate Change and Land (SRCCL,) see


The IPCC approved and accepted Climate Change and Land: an IPCC special report on climate change, desertification, land degradation, sustainable land management, food security, and greenhouse gas fluxes in terrestrial ecosystems at its 50th Session held on 2 – 7 August 2019. The approved Summary for Policymakers (SPM) was presented at a press conference on 8 August 2019.

Related News:

The UWI calls for Caribbean action based on UN IPCC report

About The UWI

For over 70 years The University of the West Indies (The UWI) has provided service and leadership to the Caribbean region and wider world. The UWI has evolved from a university college of London in Jamaica with 33 medical students in 1948 to an internationally respected, regional university with near 50,000 students and four campuses: Mona in Jamaica, St. Augustine in Trinidad and Tobago, Cave Hill in Barbados, and an Open Campus. As part of its robust globalization agenda, The UWI has established partnering centres with universities in North America, Latin America, Asia, and Africa including the State University of New York (SUNY)-UWI Center for Leadership and Sustainable Development; the Canada-Caribbean Studies Institute with Brock University; the Strategic Alliance for Hemispheric Development with Universidad de los Andes (UNIANDES); the UWI-China Institute of Information Technology, the University of Lagos (UNILAG)-UWI Institute of African and Diaspora Studies and the Institute for Global African Affairs with the University of Johannesburg (UJ). The UWI offers over 800 certificate, diploma, undergraduate and postgraduate degree options in Food & Agriculture, Engineering, Humanities & Education, Law, Medical Sciences, Science & Technology, Social Sciences and Sport. 

As the region’s premier research academy, The UWI’s foremost objective is driving the growth and development of the regional economy. Times Higher Education ranked The UWI among the top 1,258 universities in world for 2019, and the 40 best universities in its Latin America Rankings for 2018. The UWI was the only Caribbean-based university to make the prestigious lists. For more, visit

(Please note that the proper name of the university is The University of the West Indies, inclusive of the “The”, hence The UWI.)

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