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Caribbean “debt service payments should go to a resilience fund,” says top ECLCAC official!

alicia barcena

Caribbean leaders appear to be giving serious consideration to making a proposal requesting the gradual write-off of billions of dollars in external debt.

The issue was raised by Executive Secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), Alicia Bárcena at a high-level meeting this morning that preceded yesterday’s official opening of the 36th regular meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of CARICOM.

She pointed out that 40 per cent of the Caribbean’s US$46 billion debt is to multinational agencies, with 14 per cent being bilateral.

Of that amount, she said, US$30 billion was accumulated between 1990 and 2014 as a result of natural disasters.

She described the situation facing regional states are serious, explaining that five Caribbean countries are among the most indebted in the world.

Bárcena said the problems are compounded by the vulnerabilities of Caribbean economies that are already facing a decline in foreign direct investment.

“Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Grenada, Jamaica, St Kitts and Nevis are the top five in the Caribbean,” she said. “Nobody talks about them. We all hear about Belize. Of course it represents one per cent of the global debt so we are not a systematic problem.”

The ECLAC official said “the time is ripe” for CARICOM states, along with the Caribbean Development Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank to hammer out an agreement on a proposal for debt relief.

“The debt service payments should go to a resilience fund that can probably be managed by the Caribbean Development Bank. The resilience fund should be used . . . for infrastructure adaptation, sea defence.

“Another fund that should be very important is  . . . an external micro economic fund. That fund is for external shocks. Who should support that external micro economic fund is the larger economies of Latin America, the Brazil and Columbia,” she said.

In his intervention, President of the Caribbean Development Bank Dr. Warren Smith said Caribbean leaders need to show they are serious about change by making hard decisions.

“Even as we make a case for that debt relief we need to demonstrate to those with whom we are negotiating that we are prepared to take the tough decisions to do the right thing,” he told the meeting.

“We need to change the structure of our economies. We can’t continue to do what we have done in the past and expect different results.”

The discussion was attended by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the Organisation of American States Luis Almagro Lemes, and Secretary-General of the Commonwealth Kamalesh Sharma, among other officials.

Credit: Caribbean 360

Regional environment group wants Caribbean to benefit from global funds

The Belize-based Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) says it is working towards ensuring that the region benefits significantly from the Green Climate Fund (GCF) as well as the Adaptation Fund (AF) established to help countries worldwide deal with the impact of climate change.

Executive director Dr. Kenrick Leslie says the Centre, under a directive from CARICOM leaders, has been “working with national governments to put together programmes that would help them develop bankable projects that can be funded under the various mechanisms under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

“The Centre is putting maximum effort to ensure CARICOM Member States get their fair share of the Green Climate Fund (GCF), Adaptation Fund (AF) and other funds to help them in their adaptation efforts. That is our primary thrust— to meet the mandate given to us by the regional heads,” he said,

He said the CCCCC has applied to be a regional implementing entity for the Adaptation Fund, and is strengthening its capacity by establishing a Monitoring and Evaluation Unit to better prepare it to function as an implementing agency with the requisite technical capacity to institute projects on par with international organizations operating in the region.

“The new Unit will also advance the Centre’s capacity to advise and help governments develop, monitor and evaluate programmes in accordance with its mandate as the region’s key node of information and action on climate change.”

The CCCCC board of governors held its annual meeting here on Sunday and according to a statement issued Monday, the meeting agreed to strengthen its fiduciary oversight through a Finance and Audit Sub-Committee of the Board of Governors, annual internal audits, and increased focus on data and plant security.

Chairman of the Board of Governors, Dr. Leonard Nurse, says these changes were necessary given the Centre’s shift from a project-based orientation to more programmatic activities in a bid to ensure its long-term sustainability.

He said the Centre, which is primarily funded through grants and not government subventions, is moving towards establishing a Trust Fund with Trinidad and Tobago providing one million US dollars in seed money.

Nurse said that the Fund will be an independent arrangement administrated by the Barbados-based Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) allowing the Centre to co-finance projects and fund project priorities over the long-term.

According to the communiqué, the CCCCC will work with the Trinidad-based Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) in developing “joint proposals aimed at reducing the region’s vulnerability and building resilience to the likely effects of climate change across a myriad of areas of mutual interest”.

The Board agreed that the Centre will deepen engagement with the private sector to ensure broad utilisation of the seminal Caribbean Climate Online Risk and Adaptation Tool (CCORAL), as well as expand its youth focused public education work.

The CCCCC said that public-private partnerships (PPP) were essential to advance the Centre’s multipronged approach to building climate resilience in the region.

It said it had successfully used this approach to implement projects, such as the installation of reverse osmosis desalination facilities in Bequia, Petite Martinique and Carriacou, to improve access to potable water.

The Belize-based regional organisation said that in order to meet the emerging challenges and demonstrate its commitment towards a low carbon development pathway, it has reinforced its support for the construction of facilities to carry out the Centre’s operations.

“The Government of Belize has allocated 10 acres of land to the Centre, on which a custom-designed, ‘green’ facility will be constructed. The Centre is in the process of seeking financing to undertake this initiative. This development comes as the Centre prepares to celebrate its 10th Anniversary,” the communiqué added.

Also see 5Cs Concludes Annual Board of Governors Meeting
Credit: CMC

Jet Blue’s Climate Change & Tourism Scholarships

The JetBlue Foundation is offering two scholarships for students to attend the Centre for Responsible Travel (CREST) and the Puntacana Ecological Foundation’s Innovators Think Tank. This is a unique opportunity for students to learn about key issues involving climate change and tourism. Applications will be due July 10th and a decision will be made by July 13th. … Continue reading

5Cs Concludes Annual Board of Governors Meeting: Expanded partnerships with CARPHA, Deeper Private Sector Partnerships, New Member and Heightened Outreach Announced

Credit: Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre. Not for use without written permission.

Credit: Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre. Not for use without written permission.

Placencia, Belize; June 29, 2015― The Board of Governors of the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre concluded its annual meeting (June 25 -28) in Placencia, Belize yesterday.  The Board agreed that the Centre  will deepen engagement with the private sector to ensure broad utilisation of the seminal Caribbean Climate Online Risk and Adaptation Tool (CCORAL), pursue closer collaboration with the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA, which includes the former CEHI ), expand its youth focused public education work and welcome at least one new beneficiary country.

Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) are essential to advance the Centre’s multipronged approach to building climate resilience in the region. The Centre successfully used this approach to implement projects, such as  the installation of  reverse osmosis desalination facilities  in Bequia, Petite Martinique and Carriacou, to improve access to potable water. Leveraging this approach to improve the uptake of CCORAL will be a key feature of the Centre’s work in the coming year. CCORAL , which was launched by the Centre in July 2013, is an online support tool developed to strengthen climate resilient decision-making processes across various sectors in the Caribbean by embedding a risk ethic. It has been endorsed by regional and international partners, including the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The Centre has been working with the Caribbean Development Bank, its long-standing partner and a permanent member of the 11 member Board of Governors, and other development partners to mobilise private sector support for the tool. The Board also notes that the Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility (CCRIF) is a natural partner for the success of the tool at the regional level.

Following a special presentation to the Board of Governors in 2014  by Dr C.J Hospedales, CARPHA’s Executive Director, the Centre is moving to deepen collaboration with the region’s premier health agency. The two entities are expected to collaborate to develop joint proposals aimed at reducing the region’s vulnerability and  building  resilience to the likely effects of climate change across a myriad of areas of mutual interest.

The success of the Centre’s new engagements will also offer an opportunity to advance its public education work. The Centre successfully piloted a network of school-based environmental clubs in Belmopan, Belize this year. This initiative includes 60 to 90 minute weekly meetings, experiential learning, highly interactive group exercises and discussions. This comprehensive youth focused outreach initiative, which also included the first Belize – Mexico Student Exchange on Climate Change, will be a key  element of the Centre’s public engagement moving forward. The network of clubs will be rolled out across Belize and in three other CARICOM countries over the next 12 months.

To meet the emerging challenges and demonstrate its commitment towards a low carbon development pathway, the Board also reinforced its support for the construction of facilities to carry out the Centre’s operations. The Centre is currently housed in rented facilities provided by the Government of  Belize. The Government of Belize has allocated 10 acres of land to the Centre, on which a custom-designed, ‘green’ facility will be constructed. The Centre  is in the process of seeking financing to undertake  this initiative. This development comes as the Centre prepares to celebrate its 10th Anniversary. The Board greatly appreciates the goodwill of the Centre’s host government  in areas including and beyond the provision of property for the future facility and also welcomes similar offers from the University of Belize.

As the Centre expands and matures it is looking to welcome a new member. The Centre expects Martinique to become an Associate Member in the medium term, which would bring the total beneficiary countries to 15. The Board of Governors is aware that all countries in the region, whether English-, French- or Dutch-speaking are highly vulnerable to the risks posed by global climate change, as they are exposed to the same threats such as rising air and sea surface temperatures, changing rainfall patterns sea-level rise and changes in the behaviour of extreme weather and climate-related extreme events. It is against this background that the Board welcomed the application of Martinique for Associate Membership.

The Centre has expanded rapidly since it commenced operations in 2005, having developed the capacity to successfully execute a suite of regional climate change related programmes worth between US$40 and US$50 million over the last five years. The Centre continued the execution of eight medium to large projects/programmes over the last twelve months. The Centre’s most recent programme is a €12.8 million initiative to address ecosystems-based adaptation under an agreement with the German Development Bank (KfW). The KfW supported engagement seeks to protect the region’s extensive coastal resources through a combination of ecosystems-based adaptation and environmental engineering approaches that will also embed livelihood considerations as a core element of the programme.   The comprehensive investment under the initiative developed by the Centre, in conjunction with the KfW, will focus on enhancing the resilience of the region’s coastal resources to the impacts of climate change and climate variability.

VIDEO: Climate Change Projects in the Caribbean:

Executive Director Dr. Kenrick Leslie says the Centre, under a directive from CARICOM Heads, has been “working with national governments to put together programmes that would help them develop bankable projects that can be funded under the various mechanisms under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The Centre is putting maximum effort to ensure CARICOM Member States get their fair share of the Green Climate Fund (GCF), Adaptation Fund (AF) and other funds to help them in their adaptation efforts. That is our primary thrust— to meet the mandate given to us by the regional Heads.”

Accordingly, the Centre has applied to be a regional implementing entity for the Adaptation Fund, and is strengthening its capacity by establishing a Monitoring and Evaluation Unit to better prepare it to function as an implementing agency with the requisite technical capacity to institute projects on par with international organizations operating in the region. The new Unit will also advance the Centre’s capacity to advise and help governments develop, monitor and evaluate programmes in accordance with its mandate as the region’s key node of information and action on climate change. Following decisions taken at last year’s Board of Governors meeting, the Board has strengthened its fiduciary oversight through a Finance and Audit Sub-Committee of the Board of Governors, annual  internal audits,   and increased focus on data and plant security.

Chairman of the Board of Governors, Dr. Leonard Nurse, says these changes are necessary given the Centre’s shift from a project-based orientation to more programmatic activities in a bid to ensure its long-term sustainability. He notes that the Centre, which is primarily funded through grants and not government subventions, is swiftly advancing efforts to set up a Trust Fund. The Fund, which has been seeded with US$1M from the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, will be an independent arrangement administrated by the CDB that would allow the Centre to co-finance projects and fund project priorities over the long-term.

_______________________________________________________________________

The Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre coordinates the region’s response to climate change. Officially opened in August 2005, the Centre is the key node for information on climate change issues and the region’s response to managing and adapting to climate change. We maintain the Caribbean’s most extensive repository of information and data on climate change specific to the region, which in part enables us to provide climate change-related policy advice and guidelines to CARICOM member states through the CARICOM Secretariat. In this role, the Centre is recognized by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the United Nations Environment Programme, and other international agencies as the focal point for climate change issues in the Caribbean. The Centre is also a United Nations Institute for Training and Research recognised Centre of Excellence, one of an elite few. Learn more about how we’re working to make the Caribbean more climate resilient by perusing The Implementation Plan.

  ###

Belize – Mexico Student Exchange on Climate Change

The Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) and the Embassy of Mexico to Belize are pleased to announce the successful conclusion of the first Belize – Mexico Student Exchange on Climate Change. A contingent of 32 students and eight teachers from four Belmopan-based schools, along with four members of staff from the CCCCC and a … Continue reading

Four Country Coastal Protection Project Sensitization Meeting Underway in the Caribbean

Credit: 5Cs

Credit: 5Cs

Belmopan, Belize; June 13, 2015 – The Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre launched a four country Coastal Protection Project Sensitization Meeting on Monday, June 16 which will run until Tuesday, June 30. The Coastal Protection Project aims to reduce the ‘Climate change induced risks for the coastal population of Small Island Developing States in the Caribbean’ primarily through ecosystem-based adaptation projects in four target countries. Members of the press are therefore invited to attend the sensitization meetings to be held consecutively in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines (June 16th to June 19th), Grenada (June 22nd to June 23rd), Saint Lucia (June 25th to June 26th), and Jamaica (June 29th to June 30th).

The meetings will each be held over a two day period (except Saint Vincent and the Grenadines) and are geared at achieving two main objectives:

  1.  To confirm governance arrangements with the target governments as they will   each play a role in the overall direction for the Coastal Protection Project as well as support the specific interventions being proposed and implemented in their respective countries.
  2.  To build awareness of potential beneficiaries of the funding opportunity under the Coastal Protection Project (soon to be launched via  call for proposals, slated for July 2015) and the specifics on how to participate.

A wide range of entities are eligible to respond to the call for proposals, namely governments, NGOs, CBOs and the private sector. The two day sensitization meetings scheduled for the next two weeks will take place in two sessions:

The first day of meetings will include discussions with relevant ministries, departments and agencies and will also offer the Project Team a better understanding of national priorities. This is a key feature in the call for proposals grant scheme as all projects to be funded must be aligned with national priorities and be endorsed by government.

The second day of meetings will include interactions with potential beneficiaries and will focus on sharing the parameters of the grant scheme, exploring features such as priorities to be supported, eligibility, grant size, and implementation duration. It is also an opportunity for these potential beneficiaries to ask questions that may be related to their specific project concepts.

Under this German Development Bank (KFW) funded initiative, which is being executed by the CCCCC, successful proposals can access grants of US$300, 0000 to US$600, 000 for projects consistent with the overall Coastal Protection Project, for durations of up to 30 months.

_______________________________________________________________________­________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

The Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre coordinates the region’s response to climate change. Officially opened in August 2005, the Centre is the key node for information on climate change issues and the region’s response to managing and adapting to climate change. We maintain the Caribbean’s most extensive repository of information and data on climate change specific to the region, which in part enables us to provide climate change-related policy advice and guidelines to CARICOM member states through the CARICOM Secretariat. In this role, the Centre is recognized by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the United Nations Environment Programme, and other international agencies as the focal point for climate change issues in the Caribbean. The Centre is also a United Nations Institute for Training and Research recognised Centre of Excellence, one of an elite few. Learn more about how we’re working to make the Caribbean more climate resilient by perusing The Implementation Plan.

Pope Francis Leverages Faith, Moral Courage and Ingenuity to Urge Ambitious Action on Climate Change

The Vatican published Pope Francis’s long-awaited encyclical on the environment today, which warns of ‘serious consequences’ if the world doesn’t act on climate change. Here’s a round up of the key points in the highly anticipated document and some reactions: 

Read the complete encyclical here.

The Pope on UN Climate Talks

Pope Francis isn’t very impressed by more than 20 years of UN climate talks. He says the annual summits have produced “regrettably few” advances on efforts to cut carbon emissions and rein in global warming. The encyclical says:

It is remarkable how weak international political responses have been. The failure of global summits on the environment make it plain that our politics are subject to technology and finance. There are too many special interests, and economic interests easily end up trumping the common good and manipulating information so that their own plans will not be affected.

The Pope on climate change and the science

The Pope makes reference to the huge body of work by national science academies and international bodies such as the IPCC on climate science:

A very solid scientific consensus indicates that we are presently witnessing a disturbing warming of the climatic system.

He warns of serious consequences if we don’t act on climate change:

If present trends continue, this century may well witness extraordinary climate change and an unprecedented destruction of ecosystems, with serious consequences for all of us.

As many studies have already pointed out, the Pope notes that the world’s poor are expected to suffer most from global warming:

It [climate change] represents one of the principal challenges facing humanity in our day. Its worst impact will probably be felt by developing countries in coming decades. Many of the poor live in areas particularly affected by phenomena related to warming, and their means of subsistence are largely dependent on natural reserves and ecosystemic services such as agriculture, fishing and forestry.

 

On water quality

One particularly serious problem is the quality of water available to the poor. Every day, unsafe water results in many deaths and the spread of water-related diseases, including those caused by microorganisms and chemical substances.

On fossil fuels

We know that technology based on the use of highly polluting fossil fuels – especially coal, but also oil and, to a lesser degree, gas – needs to be progressively replaced without delay. Until greater progress is made in developing widely accessible sources of renewable energy, it is legitimate to choose the lesser of two evils or to find short-term solutions.

On the loss of species and ecosystems

Each year sees the disappearance of thousands of plant and animal species which we will never know, which our children will never see, because they have been lost for ever. The great majority become extinct for reasons related to human activity.

a sober look at our world shows that the degree of human intervention, often in the service of business interests and consumerism, is actually making our earth less rich and beautiful, ever more limited and grey, even as technological advances and consumer goods continue to abound limitlessly. We seem to think that we can substitute an irreplaceable and irretrievable beauty with something which we have created ourselves.

Reactions to the Pope’s bold intervention into the climate change discussion are pouring in.

John Schellnhuber, Angela Merkel’s climate adviser and a leading climate change scientist said:

it is very unique in the sense that it brings together two strong powers in the world, namely faith and moral and on the other reason and ingenuity. It’s an environmental crisis but also a social crisis. These two things together pose an enormouse challenge. Only if these two things work together, faith and reason, can we overcome it

Christiana Figueres, the UN’s climate chief, says the Pope’s intervention should act as a “clarion call” for a strong deal at Paris:

Pope Francis’ encyclical underscores the moral imperative for urgent action on climate change to lift the planet’s most vulnerable populations, protect development, and spur responsible growth. This clarion call should guide the world towards a strong and durable universal climate agreement in Paris at the end of this year. Coupled with the economic imperative, the moral imperative leaves no doubt that we must act on climate change now

Former UN general secretary Kofi Annan, said:

As Pope Francis reaffirms, climate change is an all-encompassing threat: it is a threat to our security, our health, and our sources of fresh water and food … I applaud the Pope for his strong moral and ethical leadership. We need more of such inspired leadership. Will we see it at the climate summit in Paris?

Quotes and summary are excerpts from The Guardian

Building Climate Resilience: A Case for Caribbean Collaboration

Building Climate Resilience is a key part of securing livelihoods in the Caribbean. Here's short video, produced by GFDRR and the World Bank Latin America on and Caribbean team, and financed by CIF and South-South Trust Fund, on how regional collaboration is helping to protect lives and livelihoods in the Caribbean.
Story Credit: Acclimatise

Grenada’s Climate Walk

Over nine hundred (900) participants including the Scouts Association of Grenada, Grenada Girl Guides Association, 4Hers Club, environmental groups such as the St. Patrick Environmental and Community Tourism Organization (SPECTO), public officers from various ministries and other organizations came together in a major climate change walk under the theme: “The Climate is changing, are you?” … Continue reading

A Brighter Future?

Caribbean Climate features another exclusive contribution from Nalini Jagnarine, Environmental Analyst and Business Development Coordinator at Environmental Solutions Limited, a Caribbean-based Consultancy.

Green House Gases (GHG) such as the burning of fossil fuels and coal still remains to date, one of the largest contributors to ever rising impacts of Climate Change. Countries and many industrial sectors are being implored to reduce their carbon emissions and take the necessary steps to implement and use cleaner energy sources (renewables such as solar, wind and water) and technology. The oil industry is of particular importance as these companies extract finite resources from our environments as well as consume and produce a lot of energy and emissions in their operations. They have received harsh and strong criticism from various stakeholders regarding the morals and ethics of their operations and more now than ever, are put in the spotlight to be accountable for their actions, and play in their part in the mitigation of climate change and protection of our environment.

So what exactly are the oil companies and these industries in particular planning to do? Where do they see their role in this game of survival and competitiveness?

I read an interesting article yesterday which deepened my interest in the industry and gave me a ray of hope to what may seem like a brighter future for us all. After years of “obstructionism” and debate in creating a universal framework to deal with the impacts of climate change, the major players in the oil industry (Shell, BO, Total, Statoil, Eni and the GB Group) have indicated in a letter on Friday (May 29th) that they are ready for a price on Carbon. This letter was released publicly on Monday to the UN Climate Chief, Christiana Figueres and France’s Foreign Affairs and International Development Minister, Laurent Fabius who will also lead the Paris climate talks later this year.

The letter speaks specifically to national and regional governments setting a price on carbon and for regional carbon markets to be linked. Setting a price on Carbon is not entirely a new concept. Many other industries and companies have been active in the carbon market (carbon trading/buying and selling of carbon) for some time now; the main drivers being pressures posed on them by stakeholders and a few governments; while others engage in this trade for Sustainable Reporting and CSR points.

What is even further interesting is that they want the governments support.

“We need governments across the world to provide us with clear, stable, long-term, ambitious policy frameworks,”

They also “call on governments” to “introduce carbon pricing systems where they do not yet exist at the national or regional levels,” “create an international framework that could eventually connect national systems and “to support progress towards these outcome.”

This letter is actually very commendable and is beyond a doubt the start of what could be a cleaner more regulated industry. It is unfortunate that this letter was not published earlier however the sooner this become implemented the better for everyone. The timing could be linked to the fact that the international Climate Agreement with over 190 countries is currently happening in Bonn, Germany.

So what are my two main concerns?

  • That this is letter was not done in efforts to “hush” the concerns and disappointment from key stakeholders such as Environmentalists, conservationist, NGO’s, etc.
  • That the government did not feel like this initiative was necessary and important enough to act and implement carbon pricing or a more rigid policy, to manage and govern the way in which heavy users of oil and gas operates globally. Why was this not done before? Is it not just as important as any other policy or law that has been passed to curb crime and sustain order?

I implore governments to make use of this great opportunity and create global frameworks that will make it mandatory that such industries to be accountable for their actions and that every person and company plays their part in reducing the impacts that our younger generation more so than us will face. Let us hope and pray that Shell, BP and the other major players abide by this letter and their word, to make our world a better place to live. They have opened the gates to us. Let us (decision/policy making entities) pave the rest of the way.

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