MADRID – A Caribbean climate change activist, based in Antigua and Barbuda, is calling for the inclusion of more people from community groups in global talks, including the climate change negotiations.
Ruth Spencer has been representing local community groups from the Caribbean at the United Nations Climate Conference since the Paris COP in 2015.
“Empowering local community groups requires being visible. Our stories at the local level need to be heard by the donors, by the people who are providing the resources,” Spencer told Caribbean News Service (CNS) on the margins of COP25 in Madrid, Spain.
“We have to be a part of the action. What I have realized over the years is that there are not enough voices of people from the grassroots being heard.”
Spencer serves on the board of the Antigua and Barbuda Marine Ecosystem Protected Area Trust Inc. (MEPA Trust), which was established in 2015.
The MEPA Trust is envisioned to be a core national mechanism for sustained financing to support local community environmental initiatives.
Work in the area of solar energy
Spencer has spearheaded a movement favouring the adoption of solar energy, while at the same time promoting this energy conversion as a multi-faceted solution to the development problems faced by her two-island nation.
She explains that harnessing solar power is a means of adapting to climate change and embracing a green economy through a community-centred approach aimed at enhancing education, promoting good environmental behaviour and offering income-generating opportunities.
Spencer is also instrumental in the establishment of numerous community organizations in Antigua and Barbuda.
“I think the Government of Antigua and Barbuda recognizes the growth in NGOs [Non-Governmental Organisations] and local community groups,” she told CNS.
Earlier in 2019, Spencer received the inaugural International Women’s Day Award in Antigua and Barbuda for her contribution to the empowerment of women and girls with regard to climate change and the environment.