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At an OECS climate change forum, environmentalists warn that frequency and intensity of extreme weather conditions is likely to increase.
OECS member states have been urged to prepare for more extreme weather conditions and natural disasters as a result of climate change.
The warning came from Crispin d’Auvergne, Saint Lucia’s Chief Sustainable Development Officer, who was a contributing panelist at an OECS climate change forum in Dominica.
The forum is part of the Vini Kozè (Let’s Chat) Series that engages citizens in discussion and debate on development opportunities and challenges facing the region.
According to Mr. d’Auvergne, a 2008 environmental study showed that while Saint Lucia sees an average of one to two Category 4 or Category 5 hurricanes per year, it is likely to increase to four or five hurricanes of that magnitude each year. Citing another study, Mr. d’Auvergne said rainfall in the Caribbean is expected to increase by 25 to 50 percent in the next five decades. These extreme weather patterns will become “the new normal” he said, adding that because the frequency and intensity of extreme weather conditions is likely to increase, the Caribbean should plan accordingly, preparing for more severe natural disasters like droughts, hurricanes and floods.
After Dominica was devastated by Tropical Storm Erica in August 2015, the Minister for Health and Environment, Dr. Kenneth Darroux, said Dominica had never seen a disaster of such proportions in terms of damage to infrastructure and the loss of life. Infrastructural damage was estimated at $1.4 billion. Minister Darroux said the storm caused the government to revisit its land use, policies, and regulations.
The Global Environment Fund (GEF) has been helping to build resilience in vulnerable communities in Dominica through its Small Grants Program (SGP). National Coordinator of GEF-SGP in Dominica, Agnes Esprit, said GEF’s intervention is driven by the communities in which it works, and that makes for a more sustainable and people-led approach to projects.
The Caribbean Youth Environment Network (CYEN) was also represented at the forum. Regional Chairperson, Jamilla Sealy, said CYEN does tremendous advocacy, public awareness, and education on the environment and climate change targeted at young people and the general populace. The Caribbean Youth Environment Network was integrally involved in the climate justice campaign that championed the “1.5 to Stay Alive” initiative leading up to COP 21 in Paris in December 2015. Sealy said she is encouraged by the traction which the movement gained.
Master Scuba Diver Kenneth Samuel, who owns and operates Kenneth’s Dive Centre in St. Kitts has earned a living from the sea for over 50 years. He started off as a fisherman and transitioned into scuba diving. Now in his 70s, Mr. Samuel said he has experienced the effects of climate change which have now begun to affect his livelihood.
The OECS Public Education Forum Series (PEFS) runs until March 2017. The next forum will be held in Martinique on Feb. 24. The topic for discussion will be OECS Regional Integration with a focus on the free movement of persons, the harmonization of legislation, and investment opportunities across OECS member states.
The forum series is part of the public education component of the Economic Integration and Trade Program of the OECS, funded by the 10th European Development Fund (EDF).
The forum was held at the Fort Young Hotel in Dominica on Feb. 10.
Credit: St. Lucia Times
Abacus for Communities and the Caribbean Coastal Area Management Foundation (C-CAM) recently completed the projects in Jamaica which have helped communities across the island to reduce their vulnerability to natural hazards and climate change.
Jamaica’s largest environmental conservation area, Portland Bight, is now better equipped to deal with climate change with the completion of The Portland Bight Protected Area Disaster Risk Reduction Project. C-CAM, which is responsible for the area that is home to birds, iguanas, crocodiles, manatees, marine turtles, and fish, received over CAD$15,000 and made additional contributions of more than CAD$8,000 to plant mangroves and train community members and students on their care.
Under the Community Emergency Communications for Natural Disaster and Climate Change Adaptation in Jamaica project, implemented by Abacus for Communities, emergency telecommunications systems were provided to 10 communities across Jamaica and 321 individuals were trained in the use of the equipment. This equipment and training has enabled these communities to have emergency communications during hazard events, thereby allowing emergency agencies to be able to access the information needed to plan their response and recovery efforts. This project totaled over CAD$175,000, with CAD$80,661 coming from the Government of Canada.
The Canadian High Commissioner, Mr. Sylvain Fabi, was delighted to be able to present both organizations with plaques to commemorate the successful implementation of these community-based disaster risk reduction initiatives.
Mr. Fabi commented during the presentation that “we have all seen the devastation that can be caused by natural disasters and climate change. With these projects, it is our hope, that Jamaica will be more resilient and prepared for future events.”
Rising sea levels, coastal erosion, and an escalation in the frequency and intensity of tropical storms and hurricanes threaten homes and businesses across the Caribbean. This can result in loss of life and has a significant negative impact on sustainable economic growth. To be able to respond to the increased threat of natural disasters and climate change, communities must build their resilience. The Canada Caribbean Disaster Risk Management Fund is a CAD $3 million fund designed to support Caribbean-based non-governmental organizations, community groups, and governmental agencies working at the community level.
For more details, contact the Public Affairs Section, Canadian High Commission, 3 West Kings House Road, Kingston 10, Jamaica Telephone: (876) 733-3253
In 2016, the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) approved US$306 million in loans and grants, the highest approval total during the past five years. And of the countries for which funding was approved, Belize, Saint Lucia and Suriname were the three largest beneficiaries of loans.
Dr William Warren Smith, CDB president, made this announcement during the bank’s annual news conference on Friday, February 17, in Barbados.
Smith pointed out that, in addition to the grants approved in 2016, the Bank began implementing the United Kingdom Caribbean Infrastructure Partnership Fund (UK CIF). UK CIF is a £300 million grant programme for transformational infrastructure projects in eight Caribbean countries and one British overseas territory, which CDB administers. £16.4 million in grants was approved for projects and technical assistance in Antigua and Barbuda, Belize, Dominica and Grenada.
“We reached noteworthy milestones in deepening our strategic partnerships and successfully mobilising financial resources that our BMCs can use to craft appropriate responses to their development challenges,” said Smith, noting that UK CIF was among the bank’s partnership highlights in 2016.
Last year, the bank also signed a credit facility agreement with Agence Française de Développement. It included a US$33 million loan to support sustainable infrastructure projects and a EUR3 million grant to fund feasibility studies for projects eligible for financing under the credit facility.
Also in 2016, CDB entered an arrangement with the government of Canada for the establishment and administration of a CA$5 million fund to build capacity in the energy sector, the Canadian Support to the Energy Sector in the Caribbean Fund.
These recent partnerships are part of the bank’s drive to raise appropriately-priced resources mainly for financing projects with a strong focus on climate adaptation, renewable energy and energy efficiency.
During his statement, Smith highlighted that the bank became an accredited partner institution of both the Adaptation Fund and the Green Climate Fund in 2016.
“The Adaptation Fund and the Green Climate Fund have opened new gateways to much-needed grant and or low-cost financing to address climate change vulnerabilities in all of our BMCs,” Smith told the media.
The president also confirmed that, in 2016, CDB completed negotiations for the replenishment of the Special Development Fund (SDF), the bank’s largest pool of concessionary funds. Contributors agreed to an overall programme of US$355 million for the period 2017-2020, and lowered the SDF interest rate from a range of 2 to 2.5 percent to 1 percent. The programme approved includes US$45 million for Haiti and US$40 million for the Basic Needs Trust Fund. This marked the ninth replenishment of the SDF, which helps meet the Caribbean region’s high-priority development needs.
In his statement, Smith also reaffirmed the bank’s commitment to drive sustained and inclusive income growth, complemented by improvements in living standards in its BMCs. This, he said, was critical, as economic growth across the region remains uneven, with fragile recovery expected to continue into 2017.
“At the core of our operations is the desire to better the lives of Caribbean people. That is the context within which we help to design, appraise and evaluate every project we finance,” Smith said.
Credit: Caribbean News Now!
As beautiful as the Caribbean is above water, an even more breathtaking and diverse landscape exists just below the surface, where an ecosystem of reefs boasts some of the best scuba diving and snorkeling on the planet. The Caribbean accounts for around 7 percent of the world’s shallow coral reefs, home to dozens of types of coral and as many as 700 species of reef fish.
Beyond being home to diverse sea life, the reefs also shelter island shorelines from the threat of devastating hurricanes. By acting as a natural barrier to buffer the effects of waves and erosion, reefs are essential to coastal communities. And with 70 percent of Caribbean populations living along coastlines, reef health is critical in this region.
But the Caribbean reefs are part of an ecosystem that could be in danger of extinction. The coverage of coral reefs in the Caribbean region has declined by more than 50 percent over the past 30 years. From ocean acidification to global warming, threats to the Caribbean region’s coral reefs are rife. That’s why we are exploring the promising initiatives that are working to preserve and protect these delicate underwater ecosystems.
Partnership For Preservation
The Florida-based nonprofit ocean research center Mote Marine Laboratory recently partnered with an international nature conservancy to facilitate coral restoration from the Florida Keys south throughout the Caribbean. Launched in September 2016, the 15-year project aims to restore more than one million corals throughout the Caribbean, an unprecedented initiative that would have a hugely positive impact on rebuilding the depleted reef ecosystems throughout this region. By developing innovative methods to grow staghorn, brain, boulder and star coral fragments at accelerated rates, Mote Marine Laboratory has already planted more than 20,000 fragments along Florida’s reefs― and next they’ll head to the Caribbean.
The project also plans to establish a coral gene bank, which would preserve different strains of coral tissue and allow researchers to determine which strains are most robust and resilient to environmental threats. The Mote Marine Laboratory partnership will create a much needed bridge between world-class scientific research and a platform to share that knowledge with coastal communities.
Three phases of the partnership will lead to measurable results. In the first year, researchers will focus on identifying coral strains resilient to increasing water temperatures, ocean acidification and disease. By 2020, the partnership will establish a coral gene bank of threatened Caribbean and Florida coral species, serving as insurance against climate change and near-term catastrophic events that threaten reefs, such as oil spills and coral bleaching. And by 2025, the goal is to plant one million coral fragments throughout the U.S. Virgin Islands and the Florida Keys, as well as 500,000 fragments in Caribbean nations.
Open-Sourcing The Ocean
Just as Mote’s collaboration aims to unite scientific research around the world, an innovative project launched by the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science (RSMAS) aims to collect vast amounts of open-source data on the world’s oceans. The OceanScope program utilizes Royal Caribbean cruise ships to house oceanographic and meteorological instruments aboard ships that regularly travel through the Caribbean, providing valuable real time temperature and current data to scientists.
Climate change plays an integral factor in the health of coral reefs, making this unprecedented level of research paramount to saving these valuable ecosystems. Warmer water temperatures lead to coral bleaching, which not only strips corals of vital nutrients and their vibrant colors, but also makes them more susceptible to disease. And as carbon dioxide levels in the ocean increase, the water becomes more acidic. Ocean acidification makes corals unable to absorb calcium carbonate, which they need to maintain their skeletons.
By collecting a vast amount of oceanic data on climate change, scientists will gain a better understanding of how climate factors are impacting coralis the first stage in what OceanScope envisions as a global fleet of commercial vessels carrying automated instrumentation that can act as satellites of the sea.
Taking A Cue From Bonaire
While most of the Caribbean has witnessed the loss of more than 60 percent of its living coral, the island of Bonaire, consistently ranked as one of the best scuba diving destinations in the world, has experience half that loss in the past three decades. For scientists, the larger question is why? What is the secret of Bonaire’s thriving reefs, and how can those conditions be replicated throughout the Caribbean?
Some of the answers are site-specific: Bonaire is coraline, meaning that there is little dirt to runoff into the ocean and kill the surrounding coral. Bonaire has also managed to avoid most of the hurricanes and tropical storms that have hit the region in the past 100 years, which has kept its coral reef structure intact.
More surprising is how tourism may have helped preserve the reefs surrounding Bonaire. Renowned for its excellent dive sites, Bonaire has long attracted divers to its more than 80 diveable reefs, where the clear water and amazing variety of colorful fish make it an underwater oasis. Diving provides a great source of tourism for Bonaire― and the biggest source of income on the island. As such, the local government has placed heavy restrictions on fishing in the island’s surrounding waters, so as not to deplete the fish population. The result? Bonaire’s coral reef ecosystem has suffered significantly less depletion than that of surrounding Caribbean islands. While there’s a delicate balance to fishing laws—given that fish make up such a big part of Caribbean cuisine—placing sensible restrictions on fishing may be a great first step for the region at large.
In addition to supporting destinations like Bonaire, tourists also can take more active roles in protecting the reefs by participating in clean up dives throughout the region. Organizations such as Dive Friends Bonaire regularly organize dives to remove trash, plastic bags, lead weights and other debris from the reefs, and Dive.In provides step-by-step advice for organizing your own underwater clean up dive.
Community of Latin American and Caribbean States food security plan offers a clear pathway to zero hunger within ten years, FAO Director-General says.
Latin America and the Caribbean could be the first developing region to completely eradicate hunger if its governments further strengthen their implementation of a food security plan developed by the CELAC bloc, FAO’s Director-General José Graziano da Silva said today.
Speaking at the Summit of Presidents and Heads of State and Government of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, Graziano da Silva stated that, “CELAC’s Food Security, Nutrition and Hunger Eradication Plan (FNS) represents the crystallization of governments’ political will to eradicate hunger before 2025.”
Approved by CELAC in 2015, the plan promotes comprehensive public policies to reduce poverty, improve rural conditions, adapt agriculture to climate change, end food waste and face disaster risks.
In his address, FAO’s Director-General noted that the CELAC FNS plan is fully in line with high-level global commitments such as the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).
And the region has made an even more ambitious commitment, he noted: to eradicate hunger by the year 2025, five years before the target established by SDG 2: Zero Hunger.
“This region has all the necessary conditions to achieve this, starting with the great political commitment that sustains the CELAC FNS Plan,” explained Graziano da Silva.
The plan is already bearing fruit throughout the region: Bolivia, Chile, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Venezuela relied on it to diagnose their food and nutrition security policies, while Peru used it as a base for the creation of laws regarding food donation and to minimize food losses and waste.
Tackling the double burden of malnutrition
The integral nature of CELAC’s FNS Plan allows countries to not only address hunger but also obesity, which affects 140 million people in the region according to the FAO / PAHO report Panorama of Food and Nutrition Security.
Malnutrition generates enormous economic and social costs, as public health systems must now cope with increasing levels of diabetes, hypertension and heart disease, as well as the consequences of child stunting, wasting and undernourishment.
According to the FAO, one of the worrying trends in the region is the increase in female obesity: the rates of obesity for women are ten percentage points higher than that of men in more than twenty countries in the region.
As a way to confront this situation, Graziano da Silva highlighted the CELAC FNS Plan’s Gender Strategy, which will ensure that the plan benefits women and men equally and which is already being implemented as a pilot program in four countries: El Salvador, Paraguay, the Dominican Republic and Haiti.
Strengthening family farming to tackle climate change
According to FAO’s Director-General, the impacts of climate change have the potential to reverse the gains made in the fight against hunger and extreme poverty in the region.
“Agriculture is the sector most affected by climate change and one of its main victims are small family farmers, men and women, many of whom struggle daily for their survival,” said Graziano da Silva.
Together with CELAC, FAO is developing a plan of action for family agriculture and rural territorial development that promotes sustainable intensification of production, public procurement and food supply systems, rural services and greater opportunities for rural youth.
FAO is supporting CELAC in putting together a Regional Strategy for Disaster Risk Management for Agriculture and Food Security, which supports resilience and adaptation of farmers through sustainable farming techniques and resource management.
Graziano da Silva stressed that eleven countries in the region have already adhered to the Port State Agreement, which seeks to eradicate illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, and called on all countries to join in taking care of the sustainability and conservation of their fishery resources.
Peace, food security and sustainable development
In Colombia, the CELAC FNS Plan has supported the creation of a strategy aimed at rehabilitating the livelihoods of vulnerable communities in the central area of the country.
According to FAO’s Director-General, the peace process in Colombia illustrates the indissoluble link between peace, food security and sustainable development, an issue that is at the heart of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda.
“There will be no social stability or peace as long as there is hunger, poverty and inequality. Nor can we move forward if we continue to exploit our natural resources. Sustainability is a pre-condition for development,” said Graziano da Silva.
Credit: Relief Web
Press Release – Leading marine experts from the Caribbean and the UK are joining up this week at a three-day workshop aiming to support the sustainable growth of marine economies in the region.
In the Caribbean region, Antigua and Barbuda, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Saint Lucia and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines are set to benefit from the Commonwealth Marine Economies (CME) programme workshop.
The marine workshop, hosted by the British High Commission in Kingston Jamaica, is being attended by senior-level representatives from governments, regional agencies, external science agencies, academia and key donors.
The initiative is part of the UK Government funded CME programme, and follows on from similar consultation events held in the Pacific and Indian Ocean regions.
Discussions will focus on what and how shared expertise, collaboration and co-ordination with existing regional projects can best help achieve sustainable blue growth.
Key themes to be addressed will include the opportunities and challenges Caribbean states face in developing their marine economies, including strengthening food security; enabling blue economies, safeguarding the marine environment; and supporting marine resilience.
The CME Programme was announced by the United Kingdom Government at the 2015 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) to provide technical support, services and expertise to Commonwealth Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and Coastal States in the Caribbean, Indian Ocean and Pacific. The aim of this support is to promote safe and sustainable economic growth and alleviate poverty by harnessing maritime resources, preserving marine environments and facilitating trade.
David Fitton, UK High Commissioner, Jamaica said:
“The marine environment in the Caribbean is uniquely rich in biodiversity, economic potential and cultural importance. With these opportunities, come immense challenges of poverty, environmental degradation and food security. The UK seeks to increase prosperity by helping harness maritime resources and preserve the marine environment.
“This Programme plays an important part in this aim. Through data collection, knowledge-sharing and training, we aim to enable the sustainable development of marine economies in this region and the wider Commonwealth.”
The Programme is being delivered on behalf of the UK Government by a partnership of world-leading UK government marine expertise: the United Kingdom Hydrographic Office (UKHO), the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas) and the National Oceanography Centre (NOC).
A region-wide project, involving Caribbean and UK climate change experts, has been under way since last April. The project aims to produce a Marine Climate Change Report Card – a regional evaluation of the impact of climate change on the marine environment.
Cefas project lead and workshop delegate, Paul Buckley said:
“This the first time ever that experts in the Caribbean and the UK have worked together to co-ordinate existing knowledge on coastal and marine climate change impacts on Caribbean SIDS. It is clear from our knowledge sharing, that the economic impacts of climate change pose a severe challenge to the low-lying SIDS of the Caribbean. This work aims to help inform national and collaborative decision-making to help mitigate and manage the risks of marine climate change in the region.”
Other projects in the Eastern Caribbean include Sustainable Aquaculture and Fisheries in St Lucia, hydrographic surveying in St Vincent and Grenada and Radar Technology Tide Gauges and Training in St Lucia and elsewhere in the Eastern Caribbean.
Credit: St. Lucia Times
The Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) and the Government of Norway have launched a two-week mission to explore the development of a regional technical assistance project to be funded by Norway. The project would support the region’s fisheries and aquaculture sector by strengthening evidence-based management.
Dr. Åge Høines, Senior Scientist, Institute of Marine Research, Norway; and Dr. Johán Williams, Specialist Director, Norwegian Ministry of Fisheries and Coastal Affairs, began meeting on Monday, January 16, with CRFM Executive Director Milton Haughton at the CRFM Secretariat in Belize City, after which the team embarked in a two-week dialogue with 7 CRFM Members States, beginning with senior government officials in Belize.
This regional fact-finding mission is being undertaken within the framework of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and Cooperation between the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Governments of the Nordic Countries of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden, signed by the parties on 20 September 2016 in New York, USA. That MoU identified fisheries as one of the priority areas of cooperation, along with environment, climate change, renewable energy, gender equality, tourism, education, child protection and welfare, and information technology.
“Norway is a powerhouse in fisheries, globally,” Haughton said. “They have excellent systems for research, data collection, resource management, and making decisions based on science; and we need to move more in that direction—strengthening our systems to be able to make better decisions regarding fisheries conservation and management, as well as fisheries development on the basis of good scientific data and information.”
Haughton added that: “We are interested in drawing on the Norwegian knowledge, expertise and technology in various aspects of fisheries and aquaculture, in building our own capacities in CARICOM in fisheries research, statistics, resource management, aquaculture (particularly mariculture), fish processing, value addition, marketing and international trade.”
Principally, the engagement between Norway and the CRFM Member States will focus on building human resource capacity, institutional capacity, and the accuracy and volume of fisheries data and information, with an emphasis on pursuing the ecosystems approach to fisheries development and management.
While in Belize, Høines and Williams had a chance to dialogue with H.E. Daniel Guiterrez, Belize’s Ambassador to CARICOM; Hon. Dr. Omar Figueroa, Belize’s Minister of State in the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, Forestry, the Environment and Sustainable Development and Climate Change, as well as Fisheries Administrator Beverly Wade.
After leaving Belize on Tuesday, the team, joined by CRFM Executive Director Milton Haughton, travels to Haiti for similar dialogue, as they consult with stakeholders in the field to better define their interests. Next, the team will travel to Barbados, Grenada, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, and The Bahamas. While in Guyana, they will meet both with fisheries officials there and officials of the CARICOM Secretariat. The technical mission concludes near the end of January.
Haughton noted that for more than 60 years, Norway has been supporting fisheries research surveys in developing countries using the marine research vessel, Dr. Fridtjof Nansen, outfitted with high-level modern technology in marine resource survey. Those vessels have been dispatched in Africa and other parts of the developing world. It is the CRFM’s hope that during the latter half of the proposed project, for the period 2019-2020, the research vessel would be deployed in the Caribbean to conduct surveys to broaden the region’s understanding of the state of its fisheries resources and marine environment. The CRFM also intends to collaborate in this endeavor with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)/ Western Central Atlantic Fisheries Commission, which is already committed to assisting the region in buildings its fisheries knowledge base.
Credit: The Bahamas Weekly
Climate Analytics is seeking a Research Associate in the field of Ecological and Climate Economics to expand its science unit. The successful applicant will strengthen Climate Analytics’ Science Team through strong skills in quantitative and qualitative research methods, working closely with research associates in Berlin, the Pacific and Caribbean Small Island States and (West-)Africa. The position will contribute to the IMPACT project, an international project jointly implemented between Climate Analytics and the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) and other partners. The project focuses on providing support for the implementation of science-based climate change strategies and improving access to international climate finance, by providing robust methods and analyses as well as through scientific capacity building. The position will be based with the CCCCC in Belmopan, Belize, and will require frequent regional and international travel.
Starting date: As soon as possible
Location: Belmopan, Belize
Terms: Fixed term contract until 09/2019 with perspective of extension depending on funding and performance
Peruse the Terms of Reference.
Application deadline: February 15, 2017
To apply, send your CV, cover letter, publication list, a list of three referees as well as a research statement with the subject “Research Associate: Climate Economics, CCCCC” to email@example.com
For questions and additional information related to details of position please contact firstname.lastname@example.org, for general questions please refer to email@example.com
At UN Biodiversity conference, new guidelines for agro-environmental policies in Latin America & Caribbean
The guidelines will serve as a template for countries to create their own policies to promote sustainable production and consumption patterns
In an effort to combat the impacts of environmental degradation and promote sustainable agriculture in the face of climate change, FAO this week presented a set of Voluntary guidelines for agro-environmental policies meant to help policy makers in Latin America and the Caribbean in their ongoing work to eradicate hunger and poverty in the region.
The guidelines were introduced at an event on the sidelines of COP 13 – the UN conference on Biodiversity taking place in Cancun, Mexico, December 4-17 – for an audience of ministers and representatives of Latin American and Caribbean countries.
The guidelines will serve as a template for countries to create their own policies to promote sustainable production and consumption patterns, enabling them to transform their agricultural systems, ensure sustainable development and comply with the Paris Climate Agreement.
According to FAO, the transition to a sustainable future requires action on the intersection of economy, society, agriculture and natural ecosystems.
The countries of Latin America and the Caribbean share common environmental challenges, including the need to adapt agriculture to climate change, conserve biodiversity, manage their water resources and soils, and mitigate their greenhouse gas emissions.
Other participants in the event included Mexico’s National Commission for the Knowledge and Use of Biodiversity (CONABIO), the Secretariat of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries and Food (SAGARPA), the Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT) and the NGO Razonatura.
Protecting the resources that support food security
Thirty-seven percent of the surface area of Latin America and the Caribbean is used for agricultural activities, which presents great challenges for sustainable food production and the care of the environment.
According to FAO, the region is experiencing increasing pressure on the natural resources that underpin food production and food security.
The guidelines presented at the COP13 point out that the impacts of environmental degradation and climate change mainly affect the most vulnerable social sectors.
Family farmers, small scale fishermen, smallholder forest producers, indigenous peoples and traditional communities are among those most directly dependent on natural resources for their subsistence and food security.
In Latin America and the Caribbean, family farmers account for 75 percent of total producers -involving some 60 million people – a number that exceeds 90 percent in some countries. These farmers safeguard the environment and the natural resources on which they depend and their work is key for the sector’s current and future development.
What are the Voluntary guidelines?
The Voluntary guidelines for agro-environmental policies have been prepared through a broad process of consultation between authorities and specialists in the region, with the support of the International Cooperation Program between Brazil and FAO.
The implementation of these guidelines may enhance the potential environmental benefits of agricultural, forestry, fisheries and aquaculture activities, reduce their impacts on ecosystems and improve food availability, as well as food and nutritional security.
The countries of the region, with FAO’s support, will promote these voluntary guidelines as a guide to improving policies under an agro-environmental approach that links society, territory, environment and economy in a more integrated and harmonious way.
Policies emerging from these guidelines will be formulated through interaction with different social actors, and seek to promote rural development with a territorial approach, according to principles of conservation and sustainable management of natural resources.
Precious resources under threat
Latin America and the Caribbean accounts for 15 percent of the world’s total agricultural land, receives almost 30 percent of precipitation and generates 33 percent of global runoff.
However, the rapid exploitation of minerals, gas, forests and pastures is producing dramatic changes in land use: the region currently accounts for 14 percent of global land degradation, a figure that reaches 26 percent for Mesoamerica.
Although deforestation has declined in recent decades, the region still has the second highest rate in the world, and each year more than two million hectares of forest are lost.
In the last three decades water extraction has doubled in the region at a rate well above the world average, most of which is used in agriculture.
Credit: Military Technologies
A new study has predicted that if current trends continue and the world fails to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, nearly all of the world’s coral reefs, including many in the Caribbean, will suffer severe bleaching — the gravest threat to one of the Earth’s most important ecosystems — on annual basis.
The finding is part of a study funded by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and partners, which reviewed new climate change projections to predict which corals will be affected first and at what rate.
The report is published in the journal Nature Scientific Reports. Researchers found that the reefs in Taiwan and the Turks and Caicos archipelago will be among the first to experience annual bleaching, followed by reefs off the coast of Bahrain, in Chile and in French Polynesia.
Calling the predictions “a treasure trove” for environmentalists, the head of the UN agency, Erik Solheim, said the projects allow conservationists and governments to prioritise reef protection.
“The projections show us where we still have time to act before it’s too late,” Solheim said.
On average, the reefs started undergoing annual bleaching from 2014, according to the study.
Without the required minimum of five years to regenerate, the annual occurrences will have a deadly effect on the corals and disrupt the ecosystems which they support, UNEP said.
However, it said that if governments act on emission reduction pledges made in the Paris Agreement, which calls on countries to combat climate change and limit global temperature rise to below two degrees Celsius, the corals would have another 11 years to adapt to the warming seas.
Between 2014 and 2016, UNEP said the world witnessed the longest global bleaching event recorded.
Among the casualties, it said, was the Great Barrier Reef, with 90 per cent of it bleached and 20 per cent of the reef’s coral killed.