Cayman scene featured in Commonwealth report

| 23/11/2009

(CNS): An environmentally themed photograph taken in the Cayman Islands was chosen as the cover image for the report on the Commonwealth Health Ministers’ Meeting 2009, which explored the risks to human health posed by climate change in the Commonwealth and the effective policy responses for managing these risks. Local writer Guy P. Harrison took the photo in East End in 2001. Previously it had won first place in the Caribbean/Canada region of the BBC Commonwealth Photography Contest and took third place overall for the entire Commonwealth. The image was also displayed as part of an exhibition in a museum in Australia.

Harrison says he took the shot when he noticed that his three year-old son, Jared, made the decision to wade around a lone mangrove plant that stood in his direct path rather than step on it.

“It was powerful. I saw that scene as hope for the future,” says Harrison. “If a child can choose conservation over needless destruction, then maybe one day adults can too. If a little boy can appreciate life and let it be, then maybe in the future everyone can be that wise. I never imagined that this photo would earn so much mileage over the years, but I’m glad it has because I think it presents a crucial message people in the Cayman Islands and around the world need to consider.”

With the theme of “Health and Climate Change”, this year’s CHMM was held in Geneva, Switzerland, on 17 May.

Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma noted in the forward to the report that, over the last decade, the global community had accepted the inevitability of climate change, and the need for urgent measures to mitigate its impact. “We face a challenge that requires radical changes in behaviour to slow the pace and extent of climatic changes on societies,” he wrote.

“The challenges the Commonwealth will face are enormous. Among our number are small island states which are already at the front line, experiencing sea level rises and even contemplating the traumatic prospect of migration. Most have made the smallest of contributions to global warming and carbon footprints, or none at all, but are feeling the greatest impacts. Almost all are experiencing more frequent extreme weather events, such as heat waves, floods, and hurricanes.”

Furthermore. he noted that climate change would place tremendous pressure on health systems, as the basic health challenges associated with food security, water and infectious diseases, and disaster preparedness increase in frequency and severity.

For a link to the report, click here.

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