A little inland, a white, well-kept lighthouse rises 37 metres above sea level. Standing there since 1862, it is an icon of the municipality of Maisí, in the province of Guantánamo, in the east of this Caribbean island nation of 11.2 million inhabitants.
“Occasionally there’s a cyclone. Matthew recently passed by and devastated this area,” said Hidalgo Matos, who has been the lighthouse keeper for more than 40 years.
Matos was referring to the last major disaster to strike the area, when Hurricane Matthew, category four on the one to five Saffir-Simpson scale, hit Guantánamo on Oct. 4-5, 2016.
Thanks to this rare trade, which has been maintained from generation to generation by the three families who live next to the lighthouse, the 64-year-old Matos has seen from the privileged height of the tower the fury of the sea and the winds from the hurricanes that are devastating Cuba and other Caribbean islands, more and more intensely due to climate change.
“One of the benefits of the area is that the majority of the population makes a living from fishing,” said the lighthouse-keeper.
This is the main reason why coastal populations are reluctant to leave their homes by the sea, and even return after being relocated to safer areas inland.
Facing this and other obstacles, the Cuban authorities in the 1990s began to modify the management of coastal areas, which was accelerated with the implementation in 2017 of the first government plan to address climate change, better known as Life Task.
Currently, more than 193,000 people live in vulnerable areas, in conditions that will only get worse, as the sea level is forecast to rise 27 centimetres by 2050 and 85 centimetres by 2100.
The relocation of coastal communities and the restoration of native landscapes are key to boosting resilience in the face of extreme natural events.
Of the country’s 262 coastal settlements, 121 are estimated to be affected by climate change. Of these, 67 are located on the north coast, which was affected almost in its entirety by the powerful Hurricane Irma in September 2017, and 54 are in the south.
In total, 34,454 people, 11,956 year-round homes, 3,646 holiday homes and 1,383 other facilities are at risk.
Cuban authorities reported that 93 of the 262 coastal settlements had been the target of some form of climate change adaptation and mitigation action by 2016.
Measures for relocation to safer areas were also being carried out in 65 of these communities, 25 had partial plans for housing relocation, 22 had to be completely relocated from the shoreline, and another 56 were to be reaccommodated, rehabilitated and protected.
“There are no plans to move any settlements or people in the municipality because after Cyclone Matthew everything was moved,” said Eddy Pellegrin, a high-level official in the government of Maisí, with a population of 28,752 people who depend mostly on agriculture.
“Since 2015 we have been working on it. From that year to 2017, we relocated some 120 people,” he said in an interview with IPS in Punta de Maisí.
“There is no need to make new investments in the coastal area, what remains is to plant sea grapes (Coccoloba uvifera) to increase production,” he said of a local development project that consists of planting these bushes typical of the beaches, to restore the natural protective barrier and produce wine from the fruit.
Punta de Maisí and Boca de Jauco are the areas to be reforested with sea grape plants.
Pellegrin added that coconut groves – a key element of Guantánamo’s economy – will be replanted 250 m from the coast.
Maisí is an illustration of the long-term challenges and complexities of coastal management, ranging from the demolition of poorly located homes and facilities, to changing the economic alternatives in those communities that depend on fishing, to major engineering works.
Guantánamo has been hit continuously in recent years by major hurricanes: Sandy (2012), Matthew (2016) and Irma (2017), in addition to the severe drought between 2014 and 2017 that affected virtually the entire country.
“The latest atmospheric phenomena have affected the entire coastal area,” Daysi Sarmiento, an official in the government of the province of Guantánamo, told IPS.
The dredging is part of investments expected to be completed in September to protect Baracoa’s coast, which is highly vulnerable to floods, hurricanes and tsunamis.
By August 2017, the authorities had eliminated more than 900 state facilities and 673 private buildings from beaches nationwide. On the sandy coasts in this area alone, a total of 14,103 irregularly-built constructions were identified at the beginning of the Life Task plan.
The central provinces of Ciego de Avila and Sancti Spíritus are the only ones that today have beaches free of zoning and urban planning violations.
There are at least six laws that protect the coastline in various ways, in particular Decree-Law 212 on “Coastal Area Management”, which has been in force since 2000 and prohibits human activities that accelerate natural soil erosion, a problem that had not been given importance for decades.
“The community has grown further away from the coast,” sports coach Milaydis Griñán told IPS. She defines herself as Cuba’s “first inhabitant” because of the proximity of her humble home to the Punta de Maisí lighthouse, which is still recovering from the impacts of Hurricane Matthew.
“The risks have been high because we are very close to the beach, especially when there is a storm or hurricane or tsunami alert, but we don’t have plans for relocation inland,” she said.
Wildlife conservationists consider it to be one of the most striking parrots of its kind. Saint Lucia’s best-known species, the endangered Amazon parrot, is recognised by its bright green plumage, purple forehead and dusty red-tipped feathers. But a major conservation organisation is warning that climate change and a lack of care for the environment could have devastating consequences for Saint Lucia’s healthy ecosystems and rich biodiversity, including the parrot.
Sean Southey chairs the Commission on Education and Communication (CEC) of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
He told IPS that urgent action is needed to safeguard the eastern Caribbean island nation’s biodiversity, which is under constant threat.
“With climate change, countries like St. Lucia [experience] significant weather events. The increase in hurricanes, the increase in bad weather and mudslides – these are incredible consequences of climate change,” Southey said.“As you drive across the landscape of St. Lucia, you see a landscape strewn with old plastic bags,” Sean Southey, chair of the Commission on Education and Communication.
Though less than 616 square kilometres in area, St. Lucia is exceptionally rich in animals and plants. The island is home to more than 2,000 native species, of which nearly 200 species occur nowhere else.
Other species of conservation concern include the pencil cedar, staghorn coral and St. Lucia racer. The racer, confined to the nine-hectare island of Maria Major, is thought to be the world’s most threatened sake.
Also at risk are mangrove forests and low-lying freshwater wetlands, Southey said.
But he said it was not too late to take action, and he urged St. Lucia and its Caribbean neighbours to take advantage of their small size.
“The smallness of islands allows for real society to get involved. What it means is helping people connect to the environment,” Southey said.
“It means that they need to know and feel and appreciate that their individual behaviours make a difference. Especially the biodiversity decisions [like] land use planning. If you are going to sell your family farm, do you sell for another commercial tourist resort, do you sell it to make a golf course or do you sell it to [produce] organic bananas? These are the type of individual decisions that people have to make that protect an island or hurt an island,” he said.
Southey added that thoughtful management of mangroves and effective management of shorelines, “can create natural mechanisms that allow you to cushion and protect society from the effects of climate change.”
“If you’re over the age of 30 in the Caribbean, you’ve seen a change in weather patterns. It’s not a story that you hear on the news, it’s a reality that you feel during hurricane season every year. So I believe there is an understanding,” he said.
In September 2017, Hurricane Irma tore through many of St. Lucia’s neighbouring islands, including Barbuda.
The category five hurricane wreaked havoc on Barbuda’s world-famous frigate bird colony. Most of the 10,000-frigate bird population disappeared in the immediate aftermath of the hurricane that destroyed the mangroves in which they nest and breed.
While many countries in the Caribbean are working on building natural barriers and nature-based solutions in response to climate change, Southey still believes there needs to be a greater strengthening of that sense that people can actually do something to contribute.
Reducing plastic waste
In June 2016, Antigua took the lead in the Caribbean with a ban on the commercial use of plastic bags.
The island’s environment and health minister Molwyn Joseph said the decision was made in a bid to reduce the volume of plastic bags that end up in the watercourses and wetlands.
“We are giving our mangroves a fighting chance to be a source of healthy marine life, that can only benefit us as a people,” he said.
Antigua also became the first country within the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States and the second within the Caribbean Community, to ratify the Nagoya Protocol to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).
The Nagoya Protocol provides a transparent legal framework for the effective implementation of one of the three objectives of the CBD: the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising out of the utilisation of genetic resources.
On Jul. 3 this year, one of the Caribbean’s largest supermarket chains launched a campaign to discourage the use of single use plastic bags for bagging groceries at its checkout counters, while actively encouraging customers to shop with reusable bags as a more eco-friendly option.
Managing director of Massy Stores St. Lucia Martin Dorville said the company is focused on finding more permanent solutions to reducing plastic waste and its own demand for plastic bags.
He said the decision to encourage customers to use less plastic was bold, courageous and will help manage the adverse impacts of single use plastic on the environment.
“I am very thrilled that one of the number one supermarkets has decided to ban all plastic bags. It’s a small behaviour but it helps everyone realise that their individual actions make a difference,” Southey told IPS.
“As you drive across the landscape of St. Lucia, you see a landscape strewn with old plastic bags, so I was very appreciative of that. But what I really liked is that when I spent over USD100, they gave me a recyclable bag as a bonus to encourage me to use that as an individual so that my behaviour can make a difference,” he said.
He added that if school children could understand the importance of mangroves and complex eco-systems and the need to protect forests, wildlife and endangered birds “then I think we can make a huge difference.”
Consultancy for the Development of a Land Use Land Cover Map of 2017 Using Sentinel-2 Images for the REDD+ Readiness Project in Belize
The Government of Belize with the assistance of the World Bank is implementing the project entitled “Reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+) Readiness Project in Belize” with Grant funding from the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility “FCPF” and has appointed the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, Forestry the Environment, Sustainable Development and Immigration (MAFFESDI) for the overall implementation of the Project with the fiduciary support provided by the Protected Areas Conservation Trust (PACT). The Government of Belize intends to apply part of the proceeds of the grant to payments under the contract for this Consultancy.
REDD+ and PACT now invites eligible Consulting Firms to indicate their interest in providing the services.
Peruse the official request for Expression of Interest: EoI for SENTINEL_REV_June 28_2018.
Deadline for the submission of Expression of Interest is 4:00 pm on Friday, July 13, 2018.
For further information and clarification, please send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Consultancy for the Development of a Grievance and Redress Mechanism (GRM) for REDD+ Implementation in Belize
The Government of Belize with the assistance of the World Bank is implementing the project entitled “Reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+) Readiness Project in Belize” with Grant funding from the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility “FCPF” and has appointed the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, Forestry the Environment and Sustainable Development (MAFFESD) for the overall implementation of the Project with the fiduciary support provided by the Protected Areas Conservation Trust (PACT). The Government of Belize intends to apply part of the proceeds of the grant to payments under the contract for this Consultancy.
REDD+ and PACT now invites eligible Consulting Firms to indicate their interest in providing the services. In submitting its Expression of Interest, Firms should provide information demonstrating that it has the required and relevant experience to perform the Services.
Deadline for submission is Tuesday 19th June 2018 by 2:00 p.m.
A guide to GCF’s support for climate change early warning systems
Knowledge is power. In terms of climate change, this translates into using a growing understanding of how rising global temperatures lead to localised weather disasters. This improved knowledge can help reduce the physical and social devastation of climate change by providing early warning.
Countries are increasingly using climate information systems, which consist of data collection points that are mapped and analysed, to provide communities with scientific estimations of future climate impacts. These systems are becoming increasingly sophisticated through ongoing improvements in meteorological monitoring and information sharing. This is timely as studies indicate extreme weather events are expected to occur more frequently – even assuming the Paris Agreement’s central goal of limiting global temperature rises to well under 2°C is met.
While we may not be able to turn off the climate change-fuelled wild weather, we can take steps to ameliorate its damaging impacts on life, national economies, and the stability of societies and ecosystems. Climate effects manifest in a variety of forms – ranging from the abnormally powerful hurricanes that smashed into the Caribbean in September last year to the insidious, and equally disruptive onset of drought in Africa, most recently in South Africa.
While climate impacts may differ, they share a common trait in that their destructive effects often resonate long after the event. This has certainly been the case with Cyclone Haiyan which killed more than 6,000 people in the Philippines in November 2013. The county is still dealing with the aftermath of the super storm, also known as Yolanda in the Philippines, which reportedly dealt the biggest blow to the agricultural sector in the country’s history.
Destruction left by Cyclone Haiyan in the Philippines in 2013. Photo by Russell Watkins/Department for International Development.
As weather disasters become more severe, the case for building early warning systems to deal with them is becoming stronger. Developing countries – particularly Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and Small Island Developing States (SIDS) – are inordinately susceptible to climate disasters because of the unreliability or sometimes lack of robust climate information and early warning services.
That is why GCF has been stepping up its support to countries to use climate early warning systems to reduce the impacts of extreme weather. These systems are designed to improve weather forecasting and, just as importantly, to disseminate climate information to ensure communities are informed and prepared.
Climate change early warning systems generally contain a number of elements. These include:
- Assessing risks to physical and social infrastructure
- Monitoring and warning – meteorological offices provide forecasting services
- Communication – which focuses on how to disseminate information to targeted communities
- Response capacity – how to mobilise government and communities to respond in time.
GCF’s support for early warning systems is part of its central mandate to respond to the needs of developing countries as they drive paradigm shifts to enhance low-carbon climate resilience. A number of countries have identified an improvement of their ability to predict the onset of extreme weather-related disasters as a climate finance priority. This is intended to make their societies more resilient and to climate proof hard-won progress in national development.
Early warning systems don’t just track weather patterns. They provide planning assistance as well as systems, processes and operational infrastructure to avoid the destructive impacts of climate change across a broad social spectrum. For instance, a GCF-funded project now being implemented in Vanuatu is expanding the use of climate information services in five targeted sectors: tourism, agriculture, infrastructure, water management and fisheries. This is based on a professed need by the Government of Vanuatu to undertake systematic efforts to inform and prepare its public to manage the projected impacts of climate change.
This project is building on technical capacities in Vanuatu to harness and manage climate data by developing climate information services, while also fostering further research and development. It will also provide an ability to expand outreach and communications to ensure communities benefits from improved actionable forecasts. The Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), a GCF Accredited Entity, is carrying out this five-year, USD 21.8 million initiative.
Simon Wilson, the manager of SPREP’s project coordination unit, emphasises the broad benefits climate information services can provide, right down to the grassroots level. “Tailored meteorological and climate services can have significant multiplier benefits for decision making on a daily basis,” he says. “This can also address long-term sea level rise, and mitigate flooding impacts through infrastructure and land-use planning. Ultimately, this will help save lives and reduce economic costs.”
The ability to provide early warning of impending climate disasters is particularly important for Vanuatu. For the past four years, this Pacific SIDS has been ranked the world’s most disaster-prone country. With more than 90 percent of Vanuatu’s infrastructure located no more than 500m from the coastline, it is highly exposed to destructive climate effects. This includes Cyclone Pam, which hit the island in March 2015.
That experience shows the value of future preparation in dealing with climate disasters. The way Vanuatu was able to weather Cyclone Pam has been cited as a good example of effective community-focused early warning. Reports indicate warning mobile texts at the time helped keep the number of deaths to 11, seen as relatively low considering aid agencies described Pam as one of the worst disasters to hit the Pacific region. The GCF-SPREP project is capitalising on lessons learnt at that time to ensure communities are well informed and prepared for future disasters.
Similarly, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) found accurate forecasts and warnings about wind, storm surge and flooding hazards and coordination between meteorological services and disaster management helped prevent the casualty toll from the Caribbean hurricanes last year from being much higher. Caribbean governments’ response to the effects of super-charged weather shows climate disasters can help galvanise calls to climate action. In the aftermath of hurricanes Irma and Maria, Caribbean nations established what they termed to be the world’s first climate-smart zone. This is designed to tap public and private support in carrying out a USD 8 billion investment plan to bring greater energy and infrastructure resilience to 3.2 million Caribbean households.
While initially focusing on individual projects, GCF support for early warning systems is designed to create broad benefits in this growing field. This includes supporting the global modelling of climate effects with better data, improving the standards of information gathering and sharing, and driving down the cost of IT systems – which can then be replicated across a variety of different sites.
Joseph Intsiful, a GCF senior climate information and early warning systems specialist, says while prompt responses to climate disasters are essential, early warning systems are far more than just storm alerts as they can also act as useful planning guides to boost long-term resilience. “While freak weather events grab the news headlines, we also need to think how early warning systems can help address slow-moving climate effects such as drought,” he says. “This is particularly important in Africa. Climate systems in the region show precipitation patterns are becoming increasingly erratic, while 95 percent of sub-Saharan Africa’s agriculture relies on rainfall.”
More accurate predictions of rainfall in the long term can also help to avoid the manifestation of human-induced disasters in the form of intercommunal conflict, adds Mr Intsiful. “One of the biggest security challenges in West Africa is climate related, as cattle herders move into farming lands because pasturelands they have been using become untenable with changing rain patterns,’” he says. “With climate information and conflict early warning systems, it is possible to head off conflict before it occurs, for instance by advising that water reservoirs are installed in areas where rainfall is predicted to decline.”
Mr Intsiful also points to the negative, kick-on effects where climate change can sabotage countries’ major economic drivers. Drought was seen to be the major cause in knocking out Malawi’s electricity supply at the end of last year. Malawi relies on hydroelectricity for nearly all of its energy needs. In April 2016, the southeast African nation declared a state of emergency after severe drought, including a 12 percent decline in maize productions, forced 20 percent of the population to face food insecurity.
While the landlocked nation of Malawi is highly susceptible to droughts, it also provides an example of how flooding can pose a problem for a number of African countries – even those located far from coastlines. Lake Malawi, one of the largest lakes in the world, is a central geographical and economic feature of the country. A GCF project in Malawi being implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), a GCF Accredited Entity, is installing automatic weather stations and lake-based weather buoys to increase the capacity to identify and forecast flood risks.
A major component of this USD 16.3 million early warning project is ensuring that climate information is transmitted to vulnerable farming and fishing communities around the lake. The sharing of climate information to the right people is a key part of all effective early warning systems. In the case of the Malawi project, this will include making sure affected communities know what to do with enhanced weather information. The capacity of local communities, district councils, and national agencies to respond to emergencies will be strengthened through training and improved emergency services.
SPREP’s Simon Wilson points out that early warning systems represent good value for money.
“Various studies show that early warning systems have a very high rate of return on investment,” he says.
“They help to avoid the drastic costs to societies if no preparatory measures are taken. And when designed to meet local needs, they have a high degree of sustainability through ongoing local ownership and management of the early warning systems long after the life of the project itself.”
The importance of early warning systems is expected to grow, along with the increasing manifestations of climate change. While extreme weather events hit localised areas, the World Economic Forum has identified their increasing prevalence and cumulative effect as a major risk to global stability and economic growth. Ways of minimising the destructive effects of climate change then are likely to become more popular, not just with aid agencies but with businesses seeking to protect their investments.
Reinsurance group Swiss Re has found that insured losses from natural and man-made disasters worldwide in 2017 were the highest ever recorded in a single year at USD 144 billion. The main cause was the series of record-breaking hurricanes that smashed Caribbean and U.S. coasts. German reinsurer Munich RE also found that natural disasters caused more damage in 2017 than in the previous five years, with much of the damage caused by extreme weather events being linked to climate change, above all severe hurricanes, flooding and fires.
Some see climate considerations as an increasingly essential element in making major business investments. This could lead then to enhanced funding by businesses to support climate early warning systems as part of a country’s suite of adaptation measures. This aspect alone is likely to increase private sector investment in climate resilience – which currently lags far behind private sector investment in clean energy. If an increasing need for business to invest in early warning systems leads to increased private sector funding for climate change adaptation, this might be a silver lining in the gathering clouds of future extreme weather.
You can find out more about GCF’s support for projects reducing climate risks through early warning here:
Project FP03 in Vanuatu, including building technical capacity to harness and manage climate data and disseminate tailored climate information (Accredited Entity SPREP)
Project FP002 in Malawi, installing water stations together with weather buoys and lightning detection sensors to provide better early warning systems for fishing and farming communities (Accredited Entity UNDP)
Project FP013 in Viet Nam, improving data analysis techniques examining coastal inundation risks (Accredited Entity UNDP)
Project FP018 in Pakistan, installing 50 automatic weather stations and 408 river gauges to measure the risk of flash-floods caused by Himalayan glacier melt as global temperatures rise (Accredited Entity UNDP)
Project FP021 in Senegal, helping boost the government’s flood management strategy through better flood risk mapping (Accredited Entity AFD).
The Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation (MEGIC)’s Climate Change Division in Jamaica is searching for a Consultancy Firm “Consultants” to undertake a regional scoping study to identify the barriers to private investment and capital mobilization for climate change mitigation and adaptation, and put forward recommendations to improve access to the GCF’s Private Sector Facility.
The specific objectives of the assignment are as follows:
(a) Convene a consultation with MSMEs in Jamaica to understand barriers at the local level
(b) Conduct a regional scoping study on barriers;
(c) Convene a GCF-Caribbean Private Sector Engagement Workshop
(d) Develop a Regional Action Plan based on recommendations from the study, along with readiness support request for a potential regional private sector accredited entity;
e) Increase awareness of the GCF Private Sector Facility
Expressions of interest (EOI) must be written in English and submitted via email in PDF format, by 3:00 p.m. (UTC-5) on Monday, June 11, 2018.
Attention: UnaMay Gordon – Principal Director
Climate Change Division
Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation
16A Half Way Tree Road
Tel: (876) 633-7532
Peruse the official: Expression of Interest_Finance Expert and Terms of Reference_Finance Expert
The key function of the role will be to provide technical co-leadership for the implementation of the existing Smart Health Facilities in the Caribbean programme.
The programme aims to provide safer, greener health facilities in 8 Caribbean countries to deliver care in disasters, generate operational savings and reduce disaster losses; and for the design of the new Resilience and Reconstruction Programme to improve the climate and disaster resilience of Caribbean countries.
It will also involve technical oversight for the Caribbean components of centrally managed programmes under the Participatory Programme on Climate Resilience and the Global Climate Fund. In addition the post-holder will have joint responsibility for leading DFID Caribbean’s support to disaster preparedness, disaster risk reduction and climate and disaster resilience building across the region.
Closing date of applications is midnight on 12 June, 2018.
For more information, contact DFID Caribbean.
Request for Expressions of Interest – Consultant to revise the Barbados Water Authority Non-Revenue Water strategy
The National Climate Change Office (NCCO) invites interested young people (“Entrants”) to tell the country how they are shaping a more sustainable future by entering its second National Climate Change Youth Video Competition.
The National Climate Change Youth Video Competition highlights climate action by youth through videos, giving them a platform to share their successes and inspire other youths and policy-makers. The 2018 competition is stemming from the Global Youth Climate Video Competition which is co-organized by UN Climate Change, GEF-UNDP SGP and Connect4Climate, with support from BNP Paribas Foundation and the constituency of youth non-governmental organizations (YOUNGO).
This video competition offers an opportunity for Entrants to showcase their positive climate actions in order to inspire their community leaders and policy makers in Belize to address Climate Change.
(PRESS RELEASE VIA SNO) – The Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), University of Florida, and the government of St Lucia (Department of fisheries) formed an alliance to undertake a Caribbean Climate Change Adaptation Project.
According to Albert Jones, CCCCC Representative, “The project encompasses adaptation measures in the Eastern and Southern Caribbean.”
The installation of a Coral Reef Early Warning System (CREWS) Network took place in the Soufriere Marine Reserve on Monday, May 14th, 2018. The CREWS network will provide information to Caribbean scientists and researchers to monitor reef health, sea temperature changes, winds (speed and gusts), barometric pressure and much needed data.
“The CREWS Network will include five new countries in the Eastern Caribbean- Antigua and Barbuda, St Kitts and Nevis, St Vincent and the Grenadines, St. Lucia, and Grenada” Jones further added.
The Department of fisheries is thankful for the initiative. Fisheries Extension Officer, Rita Straughn stated “The installation of the CREWS will help improve the monitoring of the various parameters which affect the coral reefs.”
With an increase in climate change, the CREWS network will be even more beneficial to the island with the impending start of the hurricane season as of June 1st.
Credit: St. Lucia News Online