We are extremely fortunate to be living on these gems of islands in the Caribbean called the OECS. Our island nations are endowed with natural and cultural resources that have made us the envy of the rest of the world. People from all walks of life visit in large numbers to experience our brilliant sunshine, pristine ecosystems, cultural and biological diversity and wonderful people.
However, as we celebrate World Intellectual Property Day 2020, we are reminded that we must never take for granted what our forefathers have willed to us. We live in small island states that are particularly vulnerable to natural and man-made hazards, which impact our lives each and every year. We in the OECS, and indeed the rest of the Caribbean region, continue to face the existential threat of climate change and global warming — particularly more frequent and ferocious hurricanes that have disrupted lives and impacted on our society and economy.
As a result, we have become acutely aware of the impacts of global warming and the effects of climate change. We have also been confronted with the realization that we need to find the best creative and innovative means at our disposal to combat the impacts of climate change and to institute measures to mitigate against such impacts. Our region has committed itself to becoming more resilient and to building climate smart societies and nations. We have committed ourselves to creating a green future, which puts greater emphasis on reducing our collective carbon footprint and building resilience to climatic conditions.
We recognize that carving a pathway to a green future is a major modern-day imperative for all peoples and nations around the world. As small countries, we are faced with this reality each and every day, and therefore must be engaged in building capacity to effectively confront this major global challenge. We all have a role to play in building a green future for our people and countries, in order to protect lives, property and the livelihoods. It is a complex and multi-faceted endeavour to which we must apply innovative solutions. Otherwise, we risk being taken over by the exigencies of climate change and other environmental challenges. We can, and must, together, create a green future.
The OECS region, like the rest of the Caribbean, has the collective wisdom, ingenuity and creativity to come up with new, more effective ways to shape a low-carbon future. But as is well recognized, we must act now.
This year’s campaign celebrates the many inspiring inventors and creators around the world who are betting on a green future – the women, men and young people who are working on clean alternatives to legacy fossil-fuel-based technologies and better and more sustainable food and natural resource management systems, and who are using the IP system to support their work.
This is a good time to honour and hail those innovators and inventors in our OECS region who have steadfastly given their time, energy and creativity in helping us build a greener and more secured future for our people, built on the foundation of environmental sustainability. To the many leaders in business, industry and government who have provided leadership over the years, in this regard, we must spare them a thought and commend them for their efforts. We must pause here to reflect on the leadership from our region, who helped in shaping the Paris Agreement on Climate change, and who despite being from small island states demonstrated their vast leadership capacity, energy and expertise in ensuring that the world adopted a climate deal to reduce carbon emissions.
As we celebrate World IP Day 2020, we are being called upon to explore how a more balanced and robust IP system can support the emergence of a green economy. The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) is committed to providing support to regions such as ours in attaining such lofty ambitions.
One way of doing so is by implementing comprehensive policy, legislative, regulatory and institutional framework for fostering research, development and innovation that fully leverages the global intellectual property system. This includes having a robust and modern patent system that incentivizes and rewards creativity and diffuses eco-friendly technologies to enable us to tackle the climate crisis and build a green future. There is a need for further illumination in the area of design rights in supporting the optimal use of resources and enabling our designers to invest their time and talent in creating useful, attractive and eco-friendly products for consumers.
Then we consider how trademarks and other identifiers support the emergence and growth of businesses built on principles of environmental sustainability, enabling them to offer a broader range of eco-friendly products and services.
We see how rights, such as geographical indications are encouraging more sustainable natural resource use and how plant-breeding rights are promoting the development of more resilient crops in support of global food security.
And we observe how creators – who through the copyright system can earn a living from their work – can play a key role in creating a vision of a green future and its untold benefits.
Through it all, we as a society need to rethink the way we carry out our business and care for our environment. We must now become more innovative in our approaches, our thinking and our business models if we expect to get the desired results of building a green future.
We must therefore redouble our commitment, the choices we make every day, the products we buy, the research we fund and support, the companies we support and the policies and laws we develop, to help determine how green our future is. But with innovative thinking and strategic use of IP rights, sustainability is within our reach.
In this period of a COVID-19 world, it has become even more imperative and strategic that we think about these issues and join together in exploring the role that innovation and IP rights play in opening a pathway to a green future. In a region that is culturally rich, we recognize the historical role of the creative arts in promoting environmental sustainability. Even as the coronavirus pandemic has resulted in the cancellation of cultural events across the region, we encourage our artists and performers to use their creative abilities to spread the message.
Let’s all work together in the spirit of cooperation and collaboration to secure a greener future for all in the OECS.
About World IP Day
The World Intellectual Property Organisation's (WIPO) member states initiated World Intellectual Property Day in 2000 to raise public awareness about the role of IP in daily life, and to celebrate the contribution made by innovators and creators to the development of societies across the globe.
World IP Day is celebrated annually on April 26, the date on which the Convention establishing WIPO entered into force in 1970.