For over 15 years, Dr. Adelle Thomas, a Bahamian human-environment geographer, has worked at the intersections of climate change adaptation, disaster risk management and sustainable development. Thomas is Senior Fellow of the Climate Change Adaptation and Resilience Research Centre at University of The Bahamas and Senior Caribbean Research Associate with Climate Analytics. She researches the impacts and leads efforts towards the resolution of climate injustice in the Caribbean region, small island developing states (SIDS) at-large, and Black communities throughout the United States. She also leads efforts in addressing gender inequality in climate resilience development and advocates for debt-for-climate swaps for SIDS.
Currently, Dr. Thomas is at the forefront of advocacy for Caribbean nations and other small island developing states (SIDS) at the 2021 United Nation Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom, which lasted through November 12th.
Ahead of her trip to Glasgow, Caribbean Feminisms co-curator Nana Brantuo spoke with Dr. Thomas to learn more about the impact of climate change on her life and home country, the need to address and plan for community-based migration, and why solidarity is necessary – now more than ever.
NB: When you think of the future of climate resilience, what makes you cautious and what makes you hopeful?
AT: The work that I do is trying to strike this balance between identifying risks that we face and not giving up completely. We’re facing some serious risks. We’re facing some serious challenges, but how can we address these? When engaging with communities and engaging with people, I don’t want to scare them to the point of them being immobilized, but I want to provide information in a way that empowers people to act. I’m always cautious about that.
It’s the spirit of Caribbean people that makes me hopeful. We have the spirit; we’re not going to go down without a fight. We’ve shown over and over again that we will bounce back. In some ways, that’s been used to our detriment, with the international community often engaging us as resilient. “You all are resilient. You can just come back from this.” We’re not going to keep doing that, and we need to use this spirit, this gumption that we have to move into a better space so we can thrive. So it’s 1.5 to stay alive. We need to be thriving. We need to put that spirit into not just bouncing back to this bare minimum of existence, but to developing ourselves into someplace where it really is a paradise to live in. It’s not this constant struggle for most of us. If we come together, I think that we can do it. And I think we can do it in as joyful of a way that is possible.
Read the entire interview here.