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Preparing the country’s readiness and resilience in a time of climate change

A researcher checking out coral bleaching off the coast of Sint Maarten. (Nature Foundation File Photo)

Our country is surrounded by the deep blue Atlantic Ocean on one side the Caribbean Sea on the other.  Small Island Developing States (SIDS) such as ours are particularly vulnerable to natural disasters.  Global climate change is expected to increase natural disasters, such as hurricanes, floods and drought.

In addition, to climate change, population growth and urban development are increasing the vulnerability of SIDS to natural disasters, particularly in urban and coastal areas.  Country Sint Maarten has seen and experienced in the past damages caused by storm systems and inclement weather to those aforementioned areas.

At the end of January it was announced in a discussion at the Dutch Second Chamber of Parliament that Curacao and Sint Maarten have not yet formally indicated whether they want to participate in the Kingdom Law proposal to ratify the 2015 Paris Climate Accord.  Aruba has responded that it would like to be a part of the Kingdom Law.

Climate Change is a Kingdom issue and should be addressed at that level, and Sint Maarten should be at the forefront in making sure that it receives the desired and serious attention it deserves.

The topic of climate change was also a discussion point at the recently concluded 15th Overseas Countries and Territories-European Union (OCT-EU) conference in Aruba which was attended by Sint Maarten’s Prime Minister William Marlin.

The effects of global climate change continue on a daily basis.  Each year the global community of nations are informed throughout the year about the impact human activities are having on our world.  One of the most recent developments is at the North Pole which saw for the month of January sea ice volume melting to a record low, according to the United Nations World Meteorological Agency (WMO).

Sea ice extent was the lowest on the 38-year-old satellite record for the month of January, both at the Arctic and Antarctic, according to data cited WMO from both the US National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) and Germany’s Sea ice Portal operated by the Alfred-Wegener-Institut.

“The recovery period for Arctic sea ice is normally in the winter, when it gains both in volume and extent. The recovery this winter has been fragile, at best, and there were some days in January when temperatures were actually above melting point,” said recently David Carlson, Director of the World Climate Research Programme.

He added: “This will have serious implications for Arctic sea ice extent in summer as well as for the global climate system. What happens at the Poles does not stay at the Poles.”

In addition, the ice levels at the Antarctic are also at record lows, even thinner than expected for the summer season there.

The Paris Climate Change Agreement would be beneficial for country Sint Maarten with possible access to the Green Climate Fund, which is a mechanism established to assist SIDS and other countries in adapting to and mitigating the effects of climate change.

Sint Maarten needs a “Climate Change Adapt-Mitigate” Plan of Action as our own very survival as a country depends on it.  Investments made in time will allow us to mitigate the changes for generations to continue to develop a vibrant and prosperous country for decades to come.  Let’s work towards preparing our country’s readiness and resilience in a time of climate change.

Credit: SOUALIGA Newsday

UTech launches graduate degree in sustainable energy and climate change

The University of Technology (UTECH), Jamaica through its Caribbean Sustainable Energy and Innovation Institute (CSEII) and the Faculty of The Built Environment (FOBE) will on Thursday launch the multidisciplinary Master of Science Degree in Sustainable Energy and Climate Change.

The degree was developed in collaboration with technical assistance from partner the German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ) through the CARICOM Renewable Energy Efficiency Technical Assistance Programme (REETA) and is the first programme of its kind to be offered in the Caribbean region.

A release from the university disclosed that the establishment of the programme is in response to the need for tertiary level training of specialists in the areas of sustainable energy and climate change and has a strong focus on Sustainable Energy, Entrepreneurship and Green Business Development – areas critical to Jamaica’s future development within the global economy and for the creation of new jobs and innovations in keeping with the Green Growth strategy of the Government.

 Keynote speaker would be Professor  Thomas Bruckner, Head of Division, Sustainable Management and Infrastructure Economics, Fraunhofer Centre for Internal Management and Knowledge Economy IMW and Coordinating Lead Author, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Germany, who will speak on “Decarbonising the world economy: Technical Options and Policy Instruments.”

Other speakers include Senator Ruel Reid, Minister of Education, Youth and Information , Dr Andrew Wheatley, Minister of Science, Energy and Technology , Professor Stephen Vasciannie, President, UTech, Jamaica,  Dr Ruth Potopsingh, AVP, Sustainable Energy, UTech, Jamaica who will provide an overview of the Master’s programme, Dr Devon Gardner, Programme Manager, Energy, CARICOM Secretariat, as well as representatives from the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, the German Embassy in Jamaica and the Society for International Cooperation (GIZ).

The launch is slated to take place at 9:00 am at Lecture Theatre 4 (LT4), Faculty of The Built Environment at the Papine campus.

The event will be followed by technical workshops from 11:30 am – 4:30 pm, while a Green Business Start-up Clinic will be held on Friday, March 3 from 8:45 am – 4:30 pm.

Credit: Jamaica Observer

National government is at the heart of climate change action in the Caribbean

New analysis of over a decade’s-worth of research on climate change in the Caribbean, suggests that national governments are important drivers of co-ordinated climate change action in the region. The research acknowledges the importance of ‘bottom-up’, community level approaches, but found that in isolation they are insufficient to meet the complex challenges posed by climate change. Delivering coordinated climate change action at the regional, national and local level, therefore was shown to require government to actively intervene to drive the process. To that extent, the research suggests that climate change adaptation is a question of governance.

The findings come from a newly-released ‘knowledge package’ that draws on research from projects that have been conducted in the Caribbean over the past 10 years. Funded by the Climate and Development Knowledge Network (CDKN), these projects produced many research papers, case studies, and decision-support tools, which have progressed thinking and action on climate change in the region.

For the first time, the outputs of a cross section of these projects have been systematically analysed and organised to identify cross-cutting lessons. This, the first of four planned knowledge packages, focuses on the role of national government in the resilience building process.

As well as providing new insight, the package acts as a gateway to CDKN-funded climate research into national governments’ role in building climate resilience. Research from across three projects has been compiled and can be accessed through the CDKN website by visiting: www.cdkn.org/caribbean.

The work identifies best practice lessons on governance, highlights examples from applied case studies in Caribbean countries, and recommends tools and methods that can be applied to make governance frameworks more effective at delivering climate compatible development.

This knowledge package shows that national governance frameworks must foster community action, but also provide the enabling environment for large investments, and transformative change at scale. The challenge national governments face is to coordinate adaptation interventions at both national and local levels by engaging multiple organisations and individuals.

Key findings from the research include:

  1. Policy and governance arrangements at the national level are vital for climate adaptation. Local action is important but is insufficient in isolation.
  2. National governments provide strategic oversight, access to climate finance and have the capacity and authority to drive climate action.
  3. Climate change considerations should be integrated into policies and plans across government departments. The CCORAL tool allows decision-makers to do just that.
  4. Institutional arrangements are vital to help translate government policy into action. Governments can use the ARIA tool to assess their institutional adaptive capacity as a first step to strengthening these frameworks.
  5. Government institutions are vital to stimulate action at the local level. Networked governance arrangements can help to build movements for climate resilience that help translate national priorities into local action and integrate local needs into national policy.

An information brief, video and infographic have been produced which identify the most important findings from the research. To access these and to find out more about the research on which they were based visit: http://bit.ly/2moK7qn

Policy brief: Driving, connecting and communicating: The many roles of national government in climate adaptation planning

Video: National governance and climate change in the Caribbean

Infographic: CDKN funded research in the Caribbean shows that national policy and institutions are vital for climate adaptation

Caribbean warned to prepare for more severe storms

Caribbean warned to prepare for more severe storms

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

Jamaican communities better able to address emergencies and climate change with Canadian support

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 … Continue reading

CDB approves US$306 million in loans, grants in 2016

warren_smith9.jpg

CDB President, Dr William Warren Smith

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!

Vacancy – Programme Manager, Research and Resource Assessment, CRFM Secretariat

Applications are invited from interested and suitably qualified nationals of the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism / Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Member States and Associate Members to fill the position of PROGRAMME MANAGER – RESEARCH AND RESOURCE ASSESSMENT in the CARIBBEAN REGIONAL FISHERIES MECHANISM (CRFM) SECRETARIAT.

Full details of the position may be obtained at www.crfm.int or contact secretariat@crfm.int.

Applications in English Language with full curriculum details, including nationality, work experience, educational qualifications, summary of professional skills and/or expertise, list of professional publications, coordinates (including e-mail addresses) of three referees (at least two of whom must be familiar with the applicant’s work), and other relevant information, should be addressed to the Executive Director, Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) Secretariat, Belize City, Belize, and sent by email to secretariat@crfm.int or crfmsvg@crfm.int.

If you submitted an application in response to the 2016 call, you do not need to reapply. 
Your application will be considered after the April 28, 2017 deadline.

The deadline for the submission of applications is 28 April 2017.

Peruse job description here.

Save the Reefs: How to Preserve the Caribbean’s Underwater Landscape

Douglas Klug via Getty Images

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

Whitcomberd via Getty Images

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 coral reefs.This is 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.

Environmentally conscious travelers can support coral reef health and restoration by getting involved with conservation efforts in the region.  Royal Caribbean supports ocean health through its Save The Waves program, which funds programs such as OceanScope.

Credit: Huffington Post

Latin America and the Caribbean could be first developing region to eradicate hunger

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, … Continue reading

Saint Lucia attends marine workshop

Saint Lucia attends marine workshop

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

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International Women's Day 2017

Welcome Address by Sharon Lindo, Policy Advisor, CCCCC

Christopher Cushing, Chief of Mission, USAID

Dr. Kenrick Leslie's address

Dr. Kenrick Leslie, Executive Director, CCCCC

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