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‘Racism and elitism’ hit climate change efforts

By YOURI KEMP

Tribune Business Reporter

ykemp@tribunemedia.net

A Bahamian scientist is denouncing what she branded as “racism”, “bias” and “elitism” that are impacting the battle against climate change - especially when it comes to the provision of financing to mitigate its impacts.

Marjahn Finlayson, a director and educator at ClimateEdu Bahamas, and an advocate in the climate change fight, told a panel discussion during Baha Mar’s Sustainability Week that there is a “level of Global North elitism” in the climate change arena.

She explained that scientists and researchers from larger, developed countries believe their counterparts from the developing world are not up to standard when it comes to the true dynamics of climate change and the associated discussion on conservation.

“A black woman in this space always has to come to some white man or some wonderful white woman, and normally they are wonderful white women, and ask them for assistance in this one thing,” Ms Finlayson said.

“Like, it’s so frustrating, because now I have to tell you: ‘OK, yes, it’s all of your ancestors’ fault and I need reparations for this. I need capacity built’. And, you know, [Barbadian] prime minister Mia Motley is doing the thing, getting the financing, and that’s very important and we could talk a little bit more about that later.

“But just to come back to the point that there is this huge bias in the climate sector. It is enormous, it is huge. And we’ve got to call the thing a thing. There is racism, there is a level of global North elitism.”

Tarran Simms, assistant director of conservation and sustainability programmes at Baha Mar, argued that “colourism” also affects the environmental field as well.

He said: “In the environmental field, colourism is something that we fight against every day. Another side gig that I do, I work with foundations, and I’ve been to foundation meetings and they have the saviour complex. Scientists, when they come into small island nations and developing countries, it’s like: ‘We know is right for you’. Instead of building areas of conservation, the funders send their parachutes in science in, and tell us we know what’s right for you, so why aren’t you doing this for yourself?”

This, Mr Simms said, only gets worse when it is time for negotiations on climate change and the environment. Smaller nations that are most affected by climate change, and the actions of the larger, developed countries “lack the capacity” to negotiate with them.

“All of us are good the first week, and then they start hitting the text (with), ‘I don’t like this word’. ‘I don’t like human rights’. ‘I don’t like this word’, and the text is so dumbed down and you’re so tired at the end of the day that you just agree and everybody celebrates at the end like oh, we won, but when you read the text it is not substantive. Nor will it do anything to help you as a small island developing state,” he said.

“So we lack capacity, and also the global north lacks the economic will to actually fight the right fight - and the just fight - to ensure that small island nations are able to persevere for future generations.”

Comments

ThisIsOurs 10 months, 2 weeks ago

"But just to come back to the point that there is this huge bias in the climate sector. It is enormous"

They havent lived long enough... there is huge bias everywhere. In auto mechanics, gymnastics, soccer, medicine, technology, culinary arts, news media... everywhere. It's not fair anywhere but the truth is you have to be better and you have to prove yourself... again... and then again. And then someone will express surprise at how articulate you are. Laws and political correctness will never change it.

We have our own elitism here, it's based on who you is and what you wearin.

"Man looks at the outward appearance but God looks at the heart". The bible is the best life coaching, motivational, life skills book ever written

LastManStanding 10 months, 2 weeks ago

If you don't like White people there is plenty of land back in Africa where you can go and live safely away from them. Getting tired of hearing the affirmative action hires piping up when they don't have shit to show for anything they have accomplished on a civilizational level.

ThisIsOurs 10 months, 2 weeks ago

I somewhat disagree with your point because they are expressing a reality. They havent as yet reached the point of enlightenment when they realize that that reality will forever exist. Its predestined for man to judge man first by what they see. Once they reach their enlightenment they will realize their efforts are better served if they focus on moving toward their purpose despite the roadblocks, artificially generated or not.

And there are some whose purpose is the fight for "equality"... they can get closer to the goal .... for example we're no longer in physical chains...

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