A new initiative by the Caribbean Climate Change Centre (5Cs), the UK-based Climate Development and Knowledge Network (CDKN) and the Global Water Partnership – Caribbean is focusing minds on climate risk in the water sector.
In July, the 5Cs launched an innovative online tool to help governments and businesses to assess the climate-related risks of different investment options. The Caribbean Climate Online Risk and Adaptation tool (CCORAL) is a decision support tool that aims to encourage climate resilient choices. In this region of small island states that are vulnerable to sea level rise, droughts and increasingly frequent, intense storms, the tool couldn’t have come at a better time.
CCORAL is intended to embed a risk management ethic in decision-making processes across the Caribbean region. When it was launched, it received a rare endorsement by the Chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Dr. Rajendra Kumar Pachauri. Now, a new project will fine-tune CCORAL’s online support system for the specific use of managers in the water sector
Most Caribbean countries are vulnerable to water scarcity and drought. One of the contributing factors to vulnerability is climate change, which will trigger significant changes in temperature and precipitation. Average rainfall is expected to decrease by 7% in 2050, and salt water intrusion will arise as a result of increased sea levels. This water scarcity will impact agriculture, tourism and public health.
The Centre, together with the Global Water Partnership Caribbean are working with government agencies and businesses in the water sector to understand how the CCORAL tool could help them. They are currently consulting with a range of regional organisations (such as international financial institutions, NGOs and universities), national agencies (government departments, water utilities) and businesses (water utilities, consultants, major industrial and commercial water users). They are exploring the following key questions:
- What are the priority water services which would benefit from more climate resilient decision making? (for example; water resources allocation, water supply, agricultural / industrial / commercial / tourism / energy)
- What water information, planning, operational or legal and regulatory activities would benefit from increased consideration of climate variability and risk? (for example; water supply planning, hydrological modelling, risk assessment, water system regulation, operational procedures)
- Which organisations and specific capacities would benefit from being involved in the development and application of the CCORAL-Water tools? (for example; strategic water planners in governmental departments, consultants engaged in technical services for water planners, investment planners in water utilities, regulatory agencies for water)
If this project is successful, it will lead to improved climate risk management in water sector planning and management activities, which in turn will lead to improved levels of service for water users in the Caribbean.
The CCORAL-Water project is being developed in consultation with water managers in five countries: Barbados, Belize, Jamaica, Saint Lucia and Suriname. The CCORAL-Water tool itself will be applicable and available to all Caribbean countries through the CCORAL online system, hosted by the 5Cs, from March 2014. Watch this space for progress with CCORAL – Water!
This article was written by CDKN’s Pati Leon and was first posted at CDKN Global.