In this episode we will discuss coastal zone management, sustainable development, and social and gender impact assessment in Barbados.
- Vulnerability, adaptation, and coastal zone management
- Blue Economy and sustainable tourism in Barbados
- Social and gender impact assessment
Our guest Dr Janice Cumberbatch is a Lecturer of Social and Environmental Management at the University of West Indies at Cave Hill, Barbados. She has over 30 years professional experience in participatory research, environmental management, social and gender impact assessment, heritage tourism management, meeting facilitation and training. She has also published several articles in the areas of environmental management, climate change, social planning and sustainable development. Her research is focused on participatory approaches to social and gender impact assessment; Investigations of social and gender resilience in climate change and disaster risk management; and Applications of change management in the public sector and in civil society groups.
Our interviewer Shifali Mathews is a PhD student in Environmental Health and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. Her research focuses on using environmental epidemiological methods to promote health equity and environmental justice in the era of a changing climate.
Episode notes and references:
- Unleashing the blue economy of the Eastern Caribbean
- Case Study Barbados: Policy, practice and science: perspectives on climate change and tourism in Barbados – conflict or congruence?
- Tourism in the Caribbean and the Blue Economy: Can the two be aligned? (Chapter 11 in The Caribbean Blue Economy)
Music by: Ritesh Prasanna
Audio editing and transcripts by: Paras Singh and Raag Sethi
Podcast website: https://atmospherictales.com
JC: Janice Cumberbatch (Guest)
SM: Shifali Mathews (Interviewer)
SG: Shahzad Gani (Host)
SG: Welcome to Atmospheric Tales, a podcast that amplifies stories and experiences related to air pollution and climate change from around the world.
I’m your host, Shahzad Gani, and welcome to another episode of the Atmospheric Tales. Our guest today is a lecturer of Social and Environmental Management at the University of West Indies at Cave Hill, Barbados. She has over 30 years of professional experience in participatory research, environmental management, social and gender impact assessment, heritage tourism management, meeting facilitation, and training. She has also published several articles in the areas of environmental management, climate change, social planning, and sustainable development. Her research is focused on participatory approaches to social and gender impact assessment, investigations of social and gender resilience in climate change and disaster risk management, and applications of climate change management in public sector and civil society groups. I’m excited to welcome our guest, Dr. Janice Cumberbatch.
Our interviewer today is Shefali Matthews, who is a PhD student in Environmental Health and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. Her research focuses on using environmental epidemiological methods to promote health equity and environmental justice in the era of a changing climate. Welcome to the show, Janice and Shefali!
SM: Thank you so much for the introduction, Shahzad, and welcome to the show, Janice!
JC: Thank you very much for having me.
SM: I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to discuss your perspectives on social and environmental management, which really brings together multiple disciplines to solve critical issues in people’s daily lives. In particular, I’m excited to learn about your expertise in the blue economy, and participatory processes, as well as heritage tourism management and coastal zone management in Barbados, and in the Caribbean region. Barbados, like other Caribbean countries, is particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change, such as sea level rise, ocean acidification, and more frequent and intense natural disasters, such as hurricanes, to name a few. Could you elaborate on how these effects can impact the lives of the inhabitants, and the economic activities of the country?
JC: Certainly, no problem at all! Thanks very much for giving me the opportunity to discuss these issues. So one of the features that’s really critical to dealing with the fact that we’re so vulnerable to climate change, is that we must have effective early warning systems; and, that seems straightforward, like, just have an early warning system. But, the truth of the matter is that, it has to be diverse; I just had a student who did research on this. You’ve got a heterogeneous population, you’ve got people who are of different ages, genders, socio-economic levels, different capacities. So, when you want to put an early warning system in place, you have to consider what are the diverse ways you have to use to get people informed. Apps are really wonderful; and that might work with the modern, you know, Gen Z population, but the older folk are still listening to the radio. So, we actually have to be very diverse in designing early warning systems. But then we have to think about things such as insurance, because trying to address vulnerability means that you have to put something in place for people who might not be able to prepare very well, and they need to recover, and some of the most vulnerable populations don’t have what they need to recover; and, insurance is a primary example of that. There are still sectors such as the fishing sector where people are unable to ensure their boats and their gear. In that regard, we’re really happy to have the CCRIF, because what the CCRIF does, and by the CCRIF, I’m talking about the Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility—they have made it possible for, first of all, governments to have premiums that allow them to apply for relief in the aftermath of something like a hurricane, so that timeframe that governments took to recover from a bad event. And you know, we have bad events regularly in terms of hurricanes in the Caribbean; we are one of the most disaster-prone regions, in that regard. Governments can now, based on the premium they have with the CCRIF, they can now apply for and get a cash injection to start the process of cleanup and recovery, getting utilities back in place and the like. But more importantly, what CCRIF has also done is put some other products in place; the one that I particularly like is the one that we call the COAST—the Caribbean Ocean and Aquaculture Sustainable FaciliTy, and that one targets the very vulnerable, especially the fishing communities, to help them in the aftermath again, of an event, to recover. So we have to think about products like the CCRIF and its other elements such as COAST, and how we can expand on those; we need to understand how we can get the mainstream financial institutions and insurance institutions to come on board so that these vulnerable communities like fishing communities, can better be prepared to respond in the event of a hurricane or a volcano. So yeah, we’re very vulnerable, but we have had some opportunities through, as I said, the Caribbean Catastrophic Risk Insurance Facility and its other products to help governments and vulnerable communities respond better; and, you know, we are working on getting things like early warning systems set up properly, so that it doesn’t just target a few, but it gets to everybody, understanding the diversity within our populations. If we don’t do things like that, then you know, we take really long to recover; governments are then plagued with trying to find ways to support the most vulnerable. Barbados experienced hurricane Elsa, I think it was back in 2019 perhaps and I may have that year wrong, I’ll have to check; but it was a few years ago, and the government is still housing some people and paying rent for people who lost their homes during Hurricane Elsa, because at the end of the day, what happened was that their houses were lost, and the government had to find somewhere to put them up. It was actually 2021, I just checked; so we’re starting 2023, and the government is still carrying the burden of paying for housing for people who lost their homes, and who didn’t have insurance during that period, and helping them put houses back in place, so they can move out of rental facilities, and get back into their own homes. These are just some of the realities of being a small and a developing state, with limited resources and vulnerable communities.
SM: Great, thank you so much for sharing. So, you did share some of the challenges and adverse impacts of climate change and these realities in this region, but you also did share some solutions such as the early warning systems. So, building off of these climate adaptation strategies, what do effective investments in coastal infrastructure look like to impact resilience and to also potentially yield ecosystem benefits, and what kinds of benefits are needed to ensure equitable results for tourists and residents?
JC: Okay, so Barbados has been very fortunate because we have taken coastal management very seriously going as far back as 1983, where we had a project to assess what we needed to protect our coastlines. And by 1996, we’d established our Coastal Zone Management Unit; the Coastal Zone Management Unit in Barbados is heralded as a significant, successful project and a successful unit, and the reason why, is because they have been able to get it right. It’s not just a case of investing in the hard structures; it’s not just a case of investing in revampments and groynes and boardwalks; it’s a lot more than that. What we were able to do through the Coastal Zone Management Unit, which we call the CZMU is, we started by the baseline studies; we studied it, we studied our coastal and oceanographic processes to understand how the Barbados coastline works, so you had to invest, first of all, in understanding your coastline. Because you had, first of all, to appreciate the fact that your coastline was critical; you had to have a vision of the importance and understanding of your coastline in terms of protecting, supporting your economy, supporting livelihoods and protecting your country as a whole; so we studied it. We then did comprehensive risk evaluations of our coastline, and we did multi-hazard evaluations in terms of wind and earthquakes and storm surges and erosion and the like. We did vulnerability assessments, including a social vulnerability assessment; we did risk assessments. We moved from there, and we’ve established, now what we call, the National Coastal Risk Information and Planning Platform, because we have to have a database that allows us to put all that information there, update it regularly, to be sure that we can constantly be able to respond effectively. It’s after you’ve put all of that in place, and believe me, that was done through significant loans from the Inter American Development Bank, but again, the competence of the Coastal Zone Management Unit, because they were well established, they had a plan, they had an act, their staff were competently trained, their capacity was built, they were able to carry out these programmes through these loans successfully; then you start on the infrastructure, because you can’t just go and drop infrastructure in the ocean—you can exacerbate the situation. So you’ve understood the situation, and then you start on the coastal infrastructure. We’ve done different projects; we’ve constructed different types of coastal defences, we’ve done shoreline enhancement, in terms of walkways and headlands and breakwaters, yeah, in an effort to reduce flood. We had coastal areas that were more susceptible to flooding than other areas; we had coastal areas that were more susceptible to erosion than other areas. By doing the study, we understood this and then we could design the correct offshore or onshore structures that would work, whether it was a revampment or boardwalk or otherwise. We also then invested in ecosystem-based adaptation; we did a pilot project looking at regeneration and construction. So understand that we didn’t just say, okay, we need to protect the city, we’re gonna put up a seawall—we didn’t take that approach. No, the approach we took was this, let’s understand our coastline, let’s put together a database, let’s understand the the climate risk, and then let’s design, let’s do modelling. And I can tell you that any structure that the Coastal Zone Management Unit puts in place, undergoes both mathematical as well as physical modelling, so they take it very seriously, and this comes at a significant cost. We have been very fortunate that the Inter American Development Bank has invested heavily in helping us to protect our coastline in this way. Yeah, that is, in terms of effective investment, you don’t start with the hard structures, you start with understanding your coastline, you start by understanding your risk, and then you design and implement, and sometimes you have to adjust them in instances where things may have to be adjusted. But yeah, that was the approach that the Coastal Zone Management Unit took, and it has, has worked for us so far.
SM: That’s great to hear, that the coastal zone management has really been tailored to the context of the local issues in Barbados. So, in addition to the impacts of climate change that we’ve discussed, there are other environmental issues such as plastic pollution, poor water and waste management, that threaten Caribbean countries economics and biodiversity. For example, studies in Barbados show that visitors value the quality of coastal and marine resources, such as white beaches, sea water quality, and thriving coral reefs. Therefore, tourism would be heavily affected by the loss of those assets. Can you tell our listeners what the blue economy is, and how it can integrate solutions that can guide Caribbean countries towards real sustainable development? Especially because the blue economy has become important in Barbados to the point where the Ministry of Marine Affairs has incorporated blue economy on its name and agenda. So if you can comment on how effective blue economy efforts and policies are, including main challenges.
JC: Sure, no problem. I smiled when you asked this question because we have seen in Barbados, and I’m sure you have similar scenes in the US and other parts of the world, cool soup warmed over, meaning, old concept new name. The thing about the ocean is that, we’re island people—Barbados is an island, the ocean has always been critical to our economy, our livelihoods, and the lives of Caribbean people. Now, new branding is cool; it brings new, renewed focus on the importance of an issue or a resource in this case, and sometimes it helps mobilise resources. And that’s how I like to see the blue economy because, blue economy is fundamentally talking about the use of ocean resources for economic growth, to improve livelihoods and jobs. Well, when you live in an island, you’ve constantly been using the ocean for those purpose. You use it to feed yourselves, you use it because of fish. You use it in your tourism product; people come and it’s our beaches that attract them. It’s critical to transportation and transportation routes. So when everybody started talking about blue economy, green economy, pink economy, I’m like okay, branding, nice, that’s rebranded, let’s brush it off, make it fresh; but the point is, let’s perhaps take a different look at it, and let’s understand how we can use it better. That’s how I see the blue economy. So, I think the epitome of how Barbados is perhaps demonstrating that it’s taking blue economy seriously, is that we’re finally getting our marine spatial plan in place. We’ve been playing with this for a long time now. We’ve had several efforts at establishing marine spatial plans, marine protected areas, whatever. But very recently—and again, the Coastal Zone Management Unit is central to this—Barbados received the grant from The Nature Conservancy back in July 2022, and it helped to establish something called the Barbados Environmental Sustainability Fund. And then, in September of that same year, the government of Barbados entered into a debt conversion transaction with the IADB again, with TNC, The Nature Conservancy as major partners. A critical part of the funding coming out of that debt conversion, is financing of a unit to establish our marine spatial plan. And in trying to establish our marine spatial plan, we’re finally saying, look, the ocean is critical to us, we have to protect it into the future; how are we going to do this? Let’s bring all of the players in place, so let’s have the difficult conversation. We will not be having a series of podcasts around easy topics, nobody does that; we have series like these around difficult questions. When you try to make your blue economy work for you, you have to consider the gains. Why do I say you have to consider the gains? You have to consider the gains because immediately, everybody thinks about what they’re going to lose. Everybody started saying oh, well, there’d be no fish zones, or we won’t be able to pursue oil and gas in the way that we might have wanted to pursue that particular industrial effort. So people immediately go to the, oh my goodness, we’re going to lose things. What we have to be clever and strategic in doing around the marine spatial plan, around trying to make your blue economy thrive, is look at what are the gains, and ensure that people buy into and understand the gains. Let me give you an example. Barbados has been engaged in solar energy since 1970; we established solar heaters on our roofs since 1970. You can do the mathematics. But we didn’t go beyond that; we were very happy to have warm water to shower with in the morning, but we missed the opportunity to take the option of this beautiful sunshine that we have and use it, you know, for more renewable energy source options. So now in 2023, we’re trying to move towards having fully renewable energy economy by 2030 or thereafter, but we had, sort of, heaters since 1970. Gas, however, gas products were nice and cheap; so we weren’t worried about putting gas in our cars. Now they’re phenomenally expensive again, we’re thinking about moving in this direction; climate change is more of a threat, there’s more of an impetus to move in that direction. The issue, though, was back then, we did not see beyond, well, we just have some warm water, but you know, we don’t have to pursue this any further, because we can afford gas. We didn’t think about the broader gains to us, as a society if we had pushed that envelope further. So if I come back now to blue economy and marine spatial plans, if we want to be successful, if we are really going to push the gains that we can gain from our ocean resources, and use them sustainably, we can’t just look at the short term benefits, as we did with solar heating in 1970, and beyond; we have to say, what are the long term benefits of pushing the envelope with our blue economy? Making a decision to establish a marine spatial plan that undoubtedly will have some stakeholders losing or changing the way which, a better way of putting it I should say, change the way in which they operate, but ultimately, they’d be, again, down the road. If they’re short term gains that you can demonstrate from now, that’s wonderful as well, but getting everybody to buy into the gains is actually the difficult part of blue economy, and marine spatial planning policies, and the like, because people tend to see the short term losses. So the trick is, the struggle is, how do we get everybody to buy into the blue economy gains, in terms of the long term? It also has implications for coastal developments, not just fishers, not just oil and gas, but as a tourism destination; everybody who wants to build a tourism facility, wants to put it on the coastline. We already know that that is a problem, we already see the risk of coastal developments. So the question is are we really, really ready to push the envelope on blue economy and taking the difficult decisions now by getting people to buy into and support the long term gains?
SM: Thank you so much for sharing your perspective. I definitely agree that this will require a paradigm shift from short term thinking to long term thinking, especially with the current issues that we’re facing in terms of sea level rise and other pertinent environmental challenges, along with what we’ve mentioned before about social vulnerability. Tourism is also an important economic activity in Barbados, that besides the beneficial outputs, it also brings harmful human practices that are destroying coastal marine marine environment through overfishing, marine pollution, ecological imbalance, and more. Can you describe the main challenges for the sustainability of tourism in the face of climate change, along with all other relevant socio-economic barriers, such as green taxes and operating cost, especially in small island developing states of the Caribbean region?
JC: I’m happy to do so. I’d like to answer that question, if I may be permitted, by giving a quote from a book that was written by Polly Pattullo, back in 2005. And to my mind, the best part of that book was the preface written by Michael Manley, which, of course, was a former prime minister, back in Jamaica, you know, in that era. And introducing her book, Michael Manley had this to say—listen very, very carefully to this—because tourism is a balancing act, and the statement gets it right. Michael Manley said, “The tourism industry is here to stay, but the question which we dare not ignore is whether we the Caribbean people, are going to have the wit and the will to make it the servant of our needs. If we do not, it will become our master, dispensing pleasure on a curve of diminishing returns, while it exacerbates social divisions and widens that legacy of colonialism—the gap between the small comfortable minorities, and a large majority that is barely surviving at the social margin.” He said that it could be an engine of short term cash enhancement, and long-term disaster, or it could be that thing that supported and benefits our economies. I like that quote; I really, really love the introduction that he gave to that book, because that is what tourism is in the Caribbean. That’s what tourism is, in Barbados—a balancing act. We need tourism. I teach in an environmental department—Centre for Resource Management and Environmental Studies. My students all come and they’re all excited to support the environment, and save the environment, save turtles, save coral reefs; and it’s laudable, it’s wonderful, good goals. And then they all say, oh, tourism is the enemy. And I looked at them, and I said, but you’re here because of tourism. If we take tourism out of the equation, how are we going to feed ourselves in some of our islands? Not only are we very disaster-prone in the Caribbean, in terms of hurricanes and volcanoes, but we’re the most tourism dependent region in the world. So let’s take tourism out of the economy; how are we going to eat? We can’t eat. So that’s our real time challenge. Tourism does have negative elements, but we have to control it. And that’s what we’ve been trained to do for decades, in the Caribbean, and in Barbados. It means, again, the point I made about convincing people about the gains for everybody. We have to have hotels, we have to have attractions, we have to have Airlift; but what do we do about those to make them sustainable? How do we encourage and enhance sustainability in all aspects of the very diverse tourism industry? Because tourism is accommodation, it is transportation, it is food and beverage, it is, you know, it’s everything. There’s nothing that tourism does not touch; and I challenge you to tell me something that tourism does not touch in an island context. So, what do we actually do? Well, we actually need to perhaps return to elements such as things like the Green Climate Fund, because you have funds out there that can help regions that can help regions, that can help islands like Barbados, better manage how they are able to organise themselves, organise their economies, pay their people. And let me explain what I mean about that. If you are a prime minister, and you have to meet your weekly or monthly wage bill, you have to do it, you have to have money. And most of the time, that money is coming from tourism. So when somebody comes into your country, and they offer to develop a resort, in a standing mangrove, you have a hard decision to make. Everybody talks about corrupt politicians, I’m not talking about corrupt politicians. I’m not wasting my time with that. I want to talk about the politicians who meanwhile, have a really hard time, because literally, they have to figure out how on earth do I protect this wetland, but pay these wages on a regular basis, because this particular resort will bring me more taxes and all the rest of it? Now, this is where the other products come in, right? This is where things like the Green Climate Funds and the conservation funds, such as the one that we’ve established to set up the marine spatial plan, comes in, but we have to understand how to use those things. A very, very important statistic that I learned recently, you know that we have the Green Climate Fund, okay, and they were like, 312 billion US dollars in climate finance flows to non-OECD countries in 2018, but only 31 billion went to Latin America and Caribbean. And if that figure was further disaggregated, a very small amount would have come to the Caribbean. And the reason why it is, is because we have not yet sufficiently understood how to reach out, assess and grab those funds, to help us support the conservation and climate elements that we need to do, so that perhaps we’re not that reliant then, on the tourism dollars, so we can negotiate better with the tourism developers and say, yeah, we want your money, but this is how we want your money; or we can say that from a position of strength, like yes, tourism is important to our country, but you’re going to do tourism in a way that it benefits our people, that they’re going to get the right jobs because they’re trained for those jobs, so don’t bring outsiders in, and let us hire our nationals from manager right through the chain of employment opportunities in your property, and your operation. Put your facility where we have earmarked, because we have a national development plan that tells us where tourism development is going to take place; but it’s not where you want to put it, it’s here, because we’ve done the studies, and this is the best place for us. But we have to leverage everything that is available to us, so that we can stand up with a position of strength, and say that. If you’re always chasing after a dollar bill from a developer whose main interest is profit, and not necessarily the sustainability of your country, if you’re always chasing that dollar bill, you’ll never get to sustainability. But if you go after the products that are there, like the Green Climate Fund and all the rest of it, you build up your resilience as a small island developing state. If you understand those mechanisms—and they’re complicated—but we have facilities like the Caribbean Climate Change Centre in Belize, and the Caribbean Development Bank, who are trying to put on courses to help their member countries within the CARICOM (Caribbean Community), which is the grouping of Caribbean countries; we have those entities trying to build capacity in Caribbean countries and Caribbean governments to understand how to access those funds to strengthen the resilience, to build your adaptive efforts. And then, from that position of strength, you’re able to see, we still want tourism, but we’re defining the context in which we want that tourism. So it’s all connected, you can’t divorce investor funding in terms of the money that you’re gonna get from a private sector investor to build a resort, from the funding that you’re trying to get from something like the Green Climate Fund; you have to leverage the two of them for a position of strength to build your resilience as a small island developing state.
SM: Wonderful.I love that you shared the relevant quote in example, because it really shows the practicality of tourism in both economic and political activities. I’d like to shift gears a little bit and learn more about the participatory processes that you’re involved in, particularly social and gender impact assessments. What particular considerations go into these social and gender impact assessments? And in general, how do you characterise social vulnerability? And I’d also be interested in learning if there are certain vulnerable populations that have been overlooked.
JC: Okay, so yeah, social and gender impact assessment is something that I’ve been doing for about three decades now. My role in the overall environmental impact assessment is to ensure that the voices of the potentially affected populations are heard. Okay, so you understand that environmental impact assessment is a tool, it’s a decision making tool; it’s a way of looking at a potential development, be it a golf club, or a coastal tourism resort, a new factory, a new road, a new solar farm—there are so many different things that we’re considering. At the same time, in a small country like Barbados, we have to consider how this proposed development, which is supposed to do all these wonderful things and bring jobs and enhance our economy, moves us towards sustainability. Environmental Impact Assessment is a tool that helps us to understand how I will interface with a bio-physical and social environment, so that we’re certain that by giving approval for this project to take place, we’re getting the benefits, and we’re minimising the negatives; that’s what EIA is all about. I come into the picture and give a voice to the potentially project-affected populations. So, if this is a road, a road is a wonderful thing. But, or any form of construction, the ultimate end goal is a good thing, but the construction period is a nuisance. There’s dust, there’s noise, there’s traffic diversions, impacts on people’s lives; elderly people who are at home, because they’re retired, they get impacted most because they’re getting noise all of the time. My job in doing social and gender assessments is to understand those impacts, make recommendations on how you can reduce those; because you’re going to build a road more likely than not, and you need the road, but you’ve got to construct it, so there going to be negative impacts. How can I identify who is likely to be most affected by those negative impacts in the short term? So, I have to characterise the impact; it’s going to be loss, it’s going to be noise, it’s going to last for X amount of period of time, it’s gonna be intermittent, it’s gonna be this time of the day or that time of the day, these are the populations that are most likely to be affected by it, how they’re going to be affected by it, here are recommended mitigation measures to reduce the impacts on them for the public good—because the road, or the boardwalk, or whatever we’re trying to build, is the public good. Now understand that project affected people can be all types, because I finished a project recently, where we were looking at additional coastal infrastructure for the protection of the island, but we have people who own properties on the coastline. They may be wealthier than some of the rest of us who can’t afford coastal properties, but they are project-affected people; they’re very concerned about the short term impacts that I just described, in terms of the construction. But they’re also then concerned about the long term impacts in terms of security. If more people can access the coastline now, because we’ve made it more accessible by a boardwalk, are they likely to have more security concerns? Because of course, we also have to factor in the turtles, we can’t put bring, or put floodlights on that boardwalk. So my job then is to interface with these stakeholders at all scales, and try to understand their issues, and make recommendations on how to relieve the stress on them. Now you use the word vulnerable, and the thing about social vulnerability is that, you know, it’s talking about how countries, people, communities respond to or recover from something. And some elements make us more vulnerable than other elements. So for example, obviously, if we have a lower socio-economic status, if we are an ethnic minority, if we are the elderly, if we’re impoverished, we are more likely to have a harder time recovering, from people who are the opposite of that, and they have wealth, and they have insurance and they have property. If somebody with insurance has a damaged property, they will pull the pin on their insurance policy, and get the money to do the repairs. If somebody doesn’t have an insurance policy, the government has to come to their assistance. So that’s what we’re talking about when we when we meet social vulnerability. In Barbados, we have the elderly to consider; they’re particularly vulnerable, and they may or may not have a support system in that maybe their family lives abroad, they no longer live in Barbados. People with disabilities are especially vulnerable, because they now have either a physical or a mental incapacity that prevents them from doing what fully abled people can do, so, they have this additional challenge in trying to face the hazard or the problem. The youth are particularly vulnerable, usually because the unemployment rate among young people is usually higher than with other demographic groups, so they have a hard time bouncing back. And another group that’s particularly vulnerable are the LGBTQIA+ group, because many of our societies still have laws that make them illegal, make their practices illegal; we still have societies that frown upon that group. So literally, by virtue of their lifestyle, they’re more vulnerable. So we have groups that are faced with the same climate-related hazard, faced with an economic challenge, their options are reduced, and they’re less able to respond. And that’s what I look at, I look at those social vulnerabilities. I also look at issues such as the built environment, because some things in, within the built environment might also make people more vulnerable in terms of where they’re living. Their choices of location may be limited, and therefore, they may be living on slopes that are prone to slippage, or they may be living in unregulated housing, which is also known previously, as you know, squatter communities with limited utilities or other resources. So their built environment can also be a factor that will contribute to their problems. Barbados is a very small island, it’s only 166 square miles—so the urban-rural split for us, it’s not as big an issue, but in larger Caribbean locations, people who are in very rural locations, sometimes also are disadvantaged, by basically not having easy transportation access, by not having basic access to some provisions, such as water and electricity in the way that you would in an urban or suburban experience. So social vulnerability are the inherent characteristics of, you know, gender, race, ethnicity, social status, but also external factors that make you vulnerable. Can you access medical care easily? How far are you from a medical facility? And if you get to that medical facility, can you afford to pay for it? Do you have a free system? And even if the system is free, how long do you have to wait for it? Are you on social security? Is it enough to meet your basic needs? Those are some of the social vulnerability issues that I look at. And then when you interplay those social vulnerabilities in the context of climate, and the elements of climate that makes life more difficult in a small island developing state like Barbados, you understand why those groups are particularly vulnerable.
SM: Wow, you bring up key points around environmental justice, as the same populations that you mentioned with these socio-economic stressors, also face the most risks of climate hazards. Thank you so much, Janice, for joining us today.
JC: It was my pleasure. I hope that my few views are understood and I have added a little bit of wisdom out there that might be helpful to a few.
SG: With that, I would like to thank our guest, Dr Janice Cumberbatch, and our interviewer, Shefali Matthews, for joining us on this episode of Atmospheric Tales. Thanks to all our listeners for tuning in; make sure to subscribe and share!