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The Role of Education in Climate Change Risk Management

We need a “multi-faceted approach for educating the children and adults vulnerable to climate change [...] to reduce the adverse impacts of climate change,” according to Dr. Leslie A. North, Assistant Professor in the Department of Geography and Geology at the Western Kentucky University , and Mr. Kianoosh Ebrahimi, Center for Water Resource Studies, Western Kentucky University in an  exclusive guest post to Caribbean Climate.

Credit: The 5Cs

Credit: The 5Cs

Communities of scientists acknowledge that global climate change is happening, and is predominantly the result of human activities (IPCC, 2014). Yet, despite the wealth of information about the potentially catastrophic impacts of climate change, there are many persons still skeptical about the importance of understanding and responding to climate change risk. There are equally as many people simply unaware of how to minimize the impacts of climate change (Alejandro et al., 2012). Generally speaking, as climate change is typically perceived as remote and distant both in terms of time and location, members of the general public often avoid understanding climate change or concerning themselves with how their behavior influences this phenomenon. Existing knowledge, former experiences and perceptions about climate change also often result in hesitation in adopting behavioral change towards mitigating climate change risks. To combat these influences on a persons’ understanding of climate change science or willingness to take action to reduce the adverse impacts of climate change, a multi-faceted approach for educating the children and adults vulnerable to climate change is needed.

            Since climate change involves vast spans of time and space, it is a very complex concept to both teach and understand. Moreover, time is of the essence when it comes to responding to climate change challenges, which makes efficiently and effectively educating about the phenomenon of paramount importance. To educate about climate change in a timely manner and spur attitude and behavior changes about any subject, educators should build upon a persons’ pre-existing knowledge base and relate concepts being taught to personal, tangible experiences a learner is able to see directly in his or her environment. For instance, in the Caribbean region, an educator may teach about climate change by focusing on sea-level rise risk. Sea-level rise threatens many things including the tourism industry of the Caribbean region. According to Painter (2009) “…a one-meter rise would flood an area in coastal Guyana where 70% of the population and 40% of agricultural land is located. That would imply a major reorganization of the country’s economy.” Since nearly 50% of the population of the Caribbean lives within 2km (1.2 miles) of the coast, relating the importance of understanding climate change science and reducing climate change impacts through the visible and tangible concept of sea-level rise is evident. Many residents of the region can easily relate to the tourism industry and/or have already noted changes in sea-level rise, possibly without even knowing why the change in sea-level and shoreline occurred. Thus, the sea-level rise topic allows a learner to have a personal connection with the concept being taught and an educator can pull upon existing experiences with the sea-level to teach about broader issues such as climate change science and risk management.

            Although, teaching about climate change is a big challenge for many teachers, Caribbean grade-school teachers and community members must continue to work together to find exciting and interactive ways for students to learn about the science and solutions of climate change in the region. Informal learning institutions (i.e., zoos and aquariums, workshops, communication through social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, etc.), along with formal education systems must work together to engage audiences, share new information in non-threatening ways, and promote behavior change to better manage climate change risk. Training projects should be integrated along with a broader national projects to increase education and understanding of climate change based on priorities reflected in a strategic plan of the nations. In addition to formal education, climate change literacy among media professionals and journalists can also contribute towards developing and disseminating interdisciplinary knowledge for the general audiences with regard to climate change risk adaptation.

            Transforming an individual (particularly for an adult) who may have denied climate change in the past into advocating the issue’s significance and change his/her behavior can be challenging, yet techniques which we can make use of are available for effectively educating adult populations and influencing positive behavior change. Through effective outreach and teacher engagement, we can start making our elementary or even pre-school aged population sensible to questions of why is climate important? How are people affecting climate? And how will changes in climate affect our lives? Education may hold the key to instilling long-lasting, effective action towards climate change risk mitigation. We must start with the youth, but not forget about the important roles adults currently play in influences climate change and mitigated its risks. Climate change impacts can target all men, women, and children. To respond to the risks posed by this phenomenon we must, thus, ensure we are forming a united, educated front of all these people groups through effective formal and informal education pursuits.

Alejnadro, G, Goldman, S., Tracy, M. 2012. Climate Change Education: A Primer for Zoos and Aquariums (First Edition, Revised). The Climate Literacy Zoo Education Network (CliZEN). Chicago Zoological Society. Brookfield, Illinois. USA. Available at: http://www.clizen.org/files/ClimateChangeEducationEbookFirstEditionRevised.pdf
Painter, J. 2009. Americas on alert for sea level rise. Available at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/7977263.stm
UNESCO. 2014. UNESCO 2013 available on: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0022/002271/227146e.pdf

Bookmark This: International Meeting of the Ecosystem-Based Adaptation Community of Practice

International Meeting of the Ecosystem-Based Adaptation Community of Practice 26-27 February 2015 – Lima, Peru The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) REGATTA and Practical Action Latin America are pleased to invite the members of the Ecosystem-Based Adaptation (EbA) Community of Practice to apply for participating on an international meeting to be held on Thursday 26 … Continue reading

3 Reasons Samoa was a Success

Over 115 countries and members of the international development community attended the landmark Third International Conference on Small Island Developming States (SIDS) in Apia, Samoa, from 1-4 September 2014. Here are three reasons the Caribbean should celebrate from a Climate Change perspective:

  1. The 115 countries attending the Conference adopted the Small Island Developing States Accelerated Modalities of Action (Samoa) Pathway and noted that climate change represents the gravest threat to survival and viability of small island states.  It underscores that the global nature of climate change calls for the widest possible cooperation by all countries and their participation in an effective and appropriate international response, with a view to accelerating the reduction of global greenhouse gas emissions

The Samoa Pathway calls for support for the efforts of small island developing States:
(a) To build resilience to the impacts of climate change and to improve their adaptive capacity through the design and implementation of climate change adaptation measures appropriate to their respective vulnerabilities and economic, environmental and social situations;
(b) To improve the baseline monitoring of island systems and the downscaling of climate model projections to enable better projections of the future impacts on small islands;
(c) To raise awareness and communicate climate change risks, including through public dialogue with local communities, to increase human and environmental resilience to the longer-term impacts of climate change;
(d) To address remaining gaps in capacity for gaining access to and managing climate finance.
  1. The Statute Establishing SIDS DOCK was signed by  20 countries in Apia.

    SIDS DOCK is a Caribbean-based (Belmopan, Belize – with a Pacific office in Somoa) SIDS–SIDS institutional mechanism established to facilitate the development of a sustainable energy economy within the small islands and low lying developing states. The historic signing of the statue establishing this mechanism reflects the strong commitment of SIDS leaders that they have and will take responsibility for charting the future of their countries towards a path that would see a total transformation of the SIDS economy away from fossil fuels, to that of one driven by low carbon technologies.  As a group of countries that spend an inordinate amount of their limited foreign exchange on the importation of fossil fuels, this commitment augers well for their energy independence.

Also Peruse:

  1. The Region’s achievements were shared.

The Centre participated in a number of side events that addressed South-South cooperation, the possibilities in a blue economy, the launch of the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report – what’s in it for SIDS, and the scaling up of the Climate Resilient Islands Partnership. Throughout these representations the Centre was able to share its wide-ranging work across the region and its views for increased partnership.

Tackling climate change as a single SDG could backfire

The best way to deal with climate change is by integrating it into other development goals, says Ilan Kelman. Climate change is a major challenge — and it sits among many other major challenges targeted by the post-2015 development goals.Biodiversity, health, education, energy and others influence and are influenced by climate change. So goals about … Continue reading

What do leaders of Small Island Developing States say about living with climate change?

Kiran Sura, CDKN’s Head of Advocacy Fund, reviews discussions from the CDKN side event at the Third United Nations Conference for Small Island Developing States. In a related blog, “Island voices, global choices,”  she highlights major currents in the SIDS Summit as a whole.

CDKN and the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre led a lively discussion among Small Island Developing States (SIDS) representatives on how to join climate science with action on the ground for climate-resilient economies, at the Third United Nations Conference for Small Island Developing States, in Apia, Samoa, earlier this month. The conversation focused on getting ‘the right information to the right people at the right time’ to manage climate-related disaster risks and foster climate-smart development planning in small islands. To read more on the discussions, please view this background feature, “Island voices, global choices”: reviewing the UN conference on Small Island Developing States.

Representatives from government, businesses, third sector organisations and civil society attended the launch of the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report: What’s in it for Small Island Developing States? – a guide from CDKN and the Overseas Development Institute. The guide succinctly distils the richest material from the Fifth Assessment Report to raise awareness of what climate change means for these states and is part of a larger communications toolkit produced by CDKN on the report.

Hon. Faamoetauloa Lealaialoto Taito Dr. Faale Tumaalii, Minister of Natural Resources and the Environment for Samoa, welcomed the report and encouraged individuals to share how they are using scientific information to deliver sustainable development and action on climate change. Dr. Kenrick Leslie, Director of the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre, then led a panel of distinguished speakers to discuss how they are using the latest scientific, environmental, economic and social information to address climate change, prepare for climate disasters and in international climate negotiations.

Dr. Elizabeth Carabine of CDKN outlined the key findings from the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report: What’s in it for Small Island Developing States? highlighting how the IPCC has gone further than ever before on presenting the causes, consequences and responses to climate change across SIDS. Whilst the SIDS share common challenges, the type and scale of impacts will vary across SIDS in the Pacific, the Caribbean and Indian Ocean regions. What is applicable across the islands, regardless of geography, is that climate change approaches should be integrated with sustainable development, energy and disaster risk approaches to enable the islands to achieve the economies of scale to attract finance, exploit synergies and deliver real change.

Dr. Neville Trotz, Deputy Director for the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre, discussed the Caribbean’s regional framework for delivering climate resilient development and how they propose to implement this plan; however, ‘red tape’ has prevented the region from taking action as quickly as they would have liked. Slow progress not only increases the region’s vulnerability to climate impacts, but it also means the evidence underpinning the case for action and attracting finance can very quickly become outdated. This is in addition to the challenge of downscaling projections from global climate models to deliver meaningful insights.

Evaipomana Tu’holoaki, from the International Federation for the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), discussed how the evidence confirms that climate change is increasing disaster risk for millions of the world’s most vulnerable people, especially those living in SIDS. However, whilst ‘the science’ is the foundation of action, translation is needed to ensure people have the right information at the right time, and to increase awareness and preparedness. A range of innovative partnerships from across the Pacific region demonstrate how communities and states are working together to strengthen resilience and preparedness as a first line of defence for vulnerable people in risk-prone countries. Looking to the future, the IFRC will be scaling up humanitarian response and preparedness, and will continue to reduce risk through better understanding and implementation of early warning information and systems at the national, regional and community level.

Olai Uludong, the Chief Climate Change Negotiator for the Alliance of Small Island States, noted that as international climate negotiations enter a critical period, the timely findings of the Fifth Assessment Report have reinforced the case for immediate and ambitious action to curb emissions to give the world a fighting chance of limiting warming to two degrees Celsius. The ‘science’ is used to formulate negotiating positions, and the findings of the report will be a critical input for developing Intended Nationally Determined Contributions, which all Parties must submit in advance of talks in Paris next year.

These panel presentations stimulated much discussion from the audience, with contributions addressing the importance of civil society in implementing climate information, the role of traditional and local knowledge in adapting to climate change in SIDS and the need for greater awareness within society to effect change at leadership level. Discussion also focussed around the negotiations process and how the latest scientific evidence can support SIDS’ positions at the upcoming UNFCCC CoPs in Lima and Paris.

Whilst there is overwhelming and growing evidence that SIDS are amongst the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and amongst the least responsible for causing the warming we are experiencing, progress in securing a global climate agreement has been frustratingly slow. However, Dr. Leslie remarked on the importance of climate change being framed as a sustainable development issue, rather than a purely environmental one, and, as Hon Faamoetauloa Lealaialoto Taito Dr. Faale Tumaalii stated in his closing remarks, SIDS are not doing nothing. He used the Majuro Declaration, launched at last year’s Pacific Island Forum Summit, as an example of how the islands are taking on an important leadership role, and encouraged all to continue to makes the voices of SIDS heard until real progress is achieved.

Credit: Climate & Development Knowledge Network (CDKN)

ICCG International Lecture by Shonali Pachauri

ICCG INTERNATIONAL LECTURE How does achieving a universal modern energy access goal affect the attainment of other SDGs? Given by: Shonali Pachauri, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) September 15th 2014 – 11:30 am ICCG, Island of San Giorgio Maggiore, Venice – Italy The lecture will be also broadcasted via live streaming at this link … Continue reading

Call to scale up climate partnership for small islands

The heads of three regional organisations, together with the Commonwealth, have called for the strengthening of a global partnership to support climate change planning and finance in small island developing states. 

The Climate Resilient Islands Partnership was formed in 2011 and launched at the Rio+20 summit to support island nations, many of whom face existential threats as a result of climate change and rising sea levels, by providing a facility for sharing learning and providing mutual technical assistance.

Ahead of the International Conference on Small Island Developing States, in Samoa between 1-4 September 2014, the Commonwealth, the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme, the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre and the Indian Ocean Commission united in calling for new partners to scale up the partnership.

Speaking at a parallel event, the heads showcased some of the achievements of the partnership since it was launched at Rio+20. These include joint initiatives to help SIDS to plan for disaster risk reduction and climate change, applying climate models to support decision-making, and ensuring institutions are well positioned to apply for climate finance.

The event on 30 August, which involved a dialogue with over fifty guests from national governments and regional and international partners including the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat and the European Union, was hosted at the headquarters of the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) in Apia, Samoa.

David Sheppard, Director General of SPREP, said: “Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports note that the worst case scenario is an increase of up to 90 centimetres in sea levels by 2100.

“Put that in perspective in our region, where we have three out of five of the  world’s lowest lying countries on Earth, ranging from between 2.8 metres and 3.5 metres. This is a matter of security which requires our response.”

Deodat Maharaj, Commonwealth Deputy Secretary-General, said: “The Commonwealth fully supports the development of a Climate Resilient Islands Partnership with a regional approach joining organisations from across the Caribbean, Pacific and Indian Ocean.”

“We aim to work closely with the partners to help small island developing states unlock climate financing, and offer support to strengthen their institutions and ensure robust planning to effectively respond to climate change.

Dr Kenrick Leslie, Executive Director of the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre, said: “The work being done by the regions in promoting a home-grown system of adaptation speaks resolutely to the commitment of the partners. South-South small island cooperation twinned with meaningful partnerships can bring about real change in the lives of many.”

Jean Claude de l’Estrac, Secretary General of the IOC, added: “It is through such partnerships that we can make our islands voices heard for ensuring fair consideration of our interests in the global agenda for development 2015-2030.”

The partnership has established a comprehensive work plan to facilitate mutual learning on climate finance and planning. The organisations are also working together to strengthen public information portals on climate preparedness.

New partners and interested parties are encouraged to join the partnership, to contribute to and support future initiatives.

Credit: The Commonwealth Secretariat

Leaders sign historic sustainable energy & climate resilient treaty

SIDS Press release logos

Over 150 delegates and members of the international development community from more than 45 countries were stunned to see leader after leader approach the podium to sign a historic sustainable energy and climate resilient treaty that will significantly change the lives and destiny of over 20 million small islanders, for the better.

 Led by the Deputy Prime Minister of Samoa, Hon. Fonotoe Nuafesili Pierre Lauofo, multiple leaders from the Pacific, Caribbean and African, Indian Ocean and Mediterranean Sea (AIMS) regions, forcefully raised their voices in unison and accepted responsibility for fulfilling the commitment to the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) Sustainable Energy mechanism – SIDS DOCK.  The opening for signature of this historic SIDS DOCK Treaty – a SIDS-SIDS Initiative – was a major highlight of the first day of the United Nations (UN) Third International Conference on SIDS, taking place in Apia, Samoa, from 1-4 September.

The unprecedented and unexpected number of Heads of State and Government present, sent a strong signal to the standing room only audience, the SIDS population and the international community, demonstrating how deeply committed SIDS leaders are and that they all firmly believe that SIDS must, have and will take responsibility for charting the future of their countries towards a path that would see a total transformation of the SIDS economy away from fossil fuels, to that of one driven by low carbon technologies.  The event was considered so important to the Republic of Cabo Verde, that the Prime Minister, Hon. José Maria Neves, excused himself and his entire delegation from the Plenary Hall, to ensure that Cabo Verde, a SIDS DOCK Founding Member was well-represented at the signing – the Cabo Verde Government has one of the most ambitious plans in SIDS, that aims to achieve 100 penetration of renewable energies in Cabo Verde, by 2020.

More than half the members of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) were present for the signing of the historic treaty, witnessed by the SIDS DOCK partners Denmark, Japan and Austria, whose kind and generous support facilitated SIDS DOCK start -up activities; also present were SIDS DOCK partners, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the World Bank, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and the Clinton

Foundation. The treaty was signed by the governments of Barbados, Belize, Bahamas (Commonwealth of the), Dominica (Commonwealth of), Cabo Verde (Republic of), Cook Islands, Dominican Republic, Fiji (Republic of), Grenada, Guinea Bissau, Kiribati (Republic of), Niue, Palau (Republic of), Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa (Independent State of), Seychelles (Republic of), and Tuvalu.

The Statute will remain open for signature in Apia, Samoa until September 5, and will reopen for signature in Belmopan, Belize, from September 6, 2014 until it enters into force. Belize is the host country for SIDS DOCK, with Samoa designated as the location for the Pacific regional office.



Climate Change: What about the SIDS? A Youth Perspective

Young people from across the Caribbean are increasingly raising their voices about climate change and its impacts (current and projected) on the region. In recognition of this, Caribbean Climate is features an exclusive contribution by 23 year old Dizzanne Billy, who is an active executive member of the Caribbean Youth Environment Network-Trinidad and Tobago, in which she reflects on the role of SIDS in the global climate change discourse. Dizzanne’s reflection comes just as Small islands prepare to sign a historic treaty in Samoa

Credit: CCCCC

Credit: CCCCC

I dare you.

Conduct a simple ‘Google Images’ search on climate change and what do you see before you? Indeed, visions of melting polar ice caps and stranded polar bears are the predominant insignia for the issue of climate change. Undoubtedly, these matters are cause for great concern and my purpose is not to diminish their salience in any way. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has repeatedly highlighted the urgency of findings which reveal that a large portion of the West Antarctic has disappeared and they have stressed the irreversible nature of this occurrence. Nevertheless, it is pivotal that the communication of climate change exude relevance for its target audience. Images of the polar melt are likely to be met with blank stares and shrugs in the Caribbean, where the closest thing to an ice cap is party ice – huge bags of ice used to chill drinks at parties. Yes, climate change is an overwhelming concept to comprehend, and yes, the multiplicity of its very nature can prove itself complex. However, it is an issue that affects countries everywhere in the world regardless of location or level of industrial activity. However, what we must notice is that in order to effectively get the message out there and attract the most influential people to the cause, it must be communicated in a way that leads the seriousness of the issue straight to their front door.

Due to climate change, the world has witnessed longer and colder winters in some parts, drought-like conditions in others, concentrated rainfall during what would normally be a dry season, and persistent episodes of dry environments during what would usually be a wet/rainy season. These conditions have set the stage for a plethora of what can aptly be described as climatic madness  in some countries, specifically, Small Island Developing States (SIDS), a term which encompasses those coastal countries that are grouped based on certain characteristics that they share. These include issues in achieving sustainable development, vulnerability to external shocks and natural disasters, and a highly embedded reliance on imports and degradation of their natural resources, which contributes to the delicacy of their environment.

 The severity of the climate change situation for SIDS can be likened to dumping a large bowl of salt in their wounds as these nations are already playing the ‘catch-up’ game in the race toward development.  For instance, water scarcity in Samoa is greatly a result of climate change as water catchments continue to dry up due to increasing temperatures and weather patterns that are progressively unstable. There is a growing belief that in semi-arid countries like Samoa, climate change and meteorological uncertainty has led to increased temperatures, less precipitation, reduced stream flows, increased evaporation from reservoirs, and major depletion of water supplies. Being an island where all watersheds are shared by villages, water governance is crucial but implementation is difficult due to lack of institutional capacity. These are generally the woes of Pacific SIDS and can be mirrored in SIDS of the Caribbean, Africa, the Indian Ocean, Mediterranean and the South China Sea.

A crucial consideration is the nexus between climate change and food security. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), in May 2014, issued a major report which emphasised the causes, effects, and resolutions of climate change, and its influence on food security was isolated as a topic for special concern. Essentially, the accessibility to food, steadiness of food supply, and sanitation of food all fall prey to the afflictions of climate change. To add insult to injury, SIDS are particularly vulnerable to climate change due to their stature and geographic characteristics. Sea-level rise can engulf coastal areas, where for instance in Trinidad and Tobago, most farmers choose to do their cultivation.

Will the day ever come when the climate change issues of SIDS are taken seriously on the international stage? Does the principle of Common but Differentiated Responsibilities not apply to environmental issues faced by countries of this world? Indeed, developed countries continue to turn to industrialisation as the preferred measure of development, murder forests, and emit toxic chemicals and gases wantonly, but at what cost? Can a process which so drastically diminishes the quality of human life be called development at all?

 That being said, I am aware that developing countries have a role to play in dealing with the environmental issues that plague us, but we need to have a platform for our issues to be raised and an audience that is serious about addressing them. That can begin with a simple Google Images search that returns results which reflect the universal impact of climate change. Climate change is, to a certain extent, considered a very real global threat. This global threat requires global action and no action is truly global without the inclusion of SIDS at every level of the discourse.

Podcast: Small Island States – Dr Mark Bynoe on Climate Change, the Caribbean and partnerships for resilience

Dr Mark Bynoe, our senior resource economist here at the CCCCC, recently spoke with Acclimatise Conversation on Climate Change Adaptation ahead of the UN conference on SIDS. Tune into the Podcast via the link below: Credit: Acclimatise 


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