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National Training Workshop on Climate Change Impacts Tools

PRESS RELEASE – Belmopan, Belize; November 24, 2017 – The Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC/5Cs) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in collaboration with Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, Forestry, the Environment and Sustainable Development and Immigration through the National Climate Change Office (NCCO) is hosting a national training on the Caribbean Weather Impacts Group (CARIWIG) Portal and Climate Change Impacts Tools. This training workshop is being funded by the Japan-Caribbean Climate Change Partnership (J-CCCP) project. The training will be held over a period of 9 days; the first segment of the training is scheduled for the week of November 27th to December 1st, 2017, while the second segment will be held from January 15th to 18th, 2018 at the George Price Center, Belmopan City, Belize.

Participants of the National Training Workshop, Belize.

The Weather Generator (WG), the Tropical Storm Model / Simple Model for the Advection of Storms and Hurricanes (TSM/SMASH), the Caribbean Drought Assessment Tool (CARiDRO) and accompanying web portal and data sets are specific climate change impacts tools aimed at assisting in the generation of scientific information and analysis to help in making informed decisions along with policy formulation and implementation.

The tools are open source online resources to provide locally relevant and unbiased climate change information that is specific to the Caribbean and relevant to the region’s development. Case studies focused on areas such as drought, agriculture, water resources, coastal zone structures, health (dengue fever), and urban development and flooding were also done to test these tools and information related to these case studies will be shared during the Training along with many other interactive sessions. The integration of the tools into national policy agendas across the region is being spearheaded through regional and country workshops, which are crucial to ensuring effective decision-making and improving climate knowledge and action.

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Caribbean Weather Impacts Group (CARIWIG) Tools and Portal

Brief Description

  1.       A weather generator has been developed and tested on present day meteorological station observations in the region and found to produce reasonable simulations of both average and extreme weather properties. This tool provides the basis for weather generator based downscaling, required to generate locally relevant bias corrected weather scenarios for impact studies.
  2.      A new tropical storm model has been developed to provide spatial 15-minute scenarios of rainfall and wind speed over Caribbean islands under various scenarios of track, category, movement speed and historic notable storm. Managers may consider such scenarios as part of hazard management. Case study results suggest that hurricane speed, an under-reported metric, is actually of key importance, and that near-misses may be more hazardous than previously supposed.
  3.     The CARiDRO tool has been developed to assist the evaluation of meteorological and hydrological drought for the Caribbean and Central American regions, for both present day and future climate projections. This tool greatly simplifies standard but complex analyses and automatically generates a number of graphical outputs (e.g. time series plots and maps). This tool will support the agriculture and water resource sectors in their assessment and adaptation to drought hazard. A case study verified the CARiDRO tool identification of a region-wide historic drought, and found that future projections indicated increasing regional drought frequency.

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

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Climate Resilient Agriculture in Focus as Barbuda, Dominica Rebuild After Monster Hurricanes

HURRICANE MARIA CHOPPED THE TOPS OF TREES AND LEFT THEM BARE IN DOMINICA LAST MONTH. (PHOTO CREDIT: CARDI)

Executive Director of the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI) Barton Clarke is confident that the agriculture sectors that were destroyed with the passage of back to back Category 5 hurricanes will rebound with the collective effort at resilient rebuilding.

But more work needs to be done and a greater slice of resources must be pumped into the region’s agriculture sector to make it more resilient, he said.

Speaking on the eve of a Ministerial Agriculture Meeting at the Georgetown-based CARICOM Secretariat, Clarke was optimistic that with initial steps being taken to focus on the short-term, the two islands that were hardest hit, Barbuda and Dominica, will bounce back.

Barbuda

Barbuda had significantly advanced its peanut production and was recently getting CARDI support for the industry, but the hurricane impaired its seed supplies for the upcoming crop. CARDI will screen and store supplies at its seed storage facility in Antigua, Clarke said.

Antigua and Barbuda had presented its vision for agriculture at the COTED Meeting. Barbuda has adopted a ‘green island concept’ with alternative energy, particularly solar and wind; organic agriculture and compliance with food safety requirements as the main features. Protected agriculture and specially designed smart greenhouses are the pillars on which resilience, readiness and sustainability will be built.

The concept also utilizes appropriate innovations and production technologies such as rational mechanization, selected germplasm, efficient use of water resources and intensive systems for small ruminants. The concept will ensure that zoning and land use practices will not compromise the integrity of the environment.

Dominica

Replanting of short-term crops such as lettuce, Chinese cabbage and ochro, for example, has begun in Dominica. Root crops, which made up a sizeable part of Dominica’s sector, can rebound “relatively quickly” as opposed to tree crops, he said and there could be a fast turnaround in the poultry sector, for example.

“…Once you can access the baby chicks, in six months’ time you have eggs…Tree crops you would have to get the trees in the ground and they will take a few years before they begin bearing. But In two years’ time we will be back to being a major supplier of food to the Caribbean,” Clarke said.

The CARDI head pointed to the necessity for climate-resilient agriculture in the Community. Antigua and Barbuda has already incorporated some of those elements – such as protected agriculture – in its green island concept.

According to Clarke, CARDI is looking at protected structures for crop production and getting the best types for the Caribbean.

He pointed, as an example, to livestock production systems where animals were now housed in pens rather than “running around”. The pens, he said, were modified so that they can withstand the increases in temperature. He said CARDI is considering the work done in countries such as Israel, the Dominican Republic and Barbados where animals are fed in protected housing which limits their exposure to the temperatures and increases their productivity.

“You see where they have introduced wind tunnel technology for poultry where we have poultry operating in essentially air conditioned environments where the temperature is regulated,” he explained.

He added that the systems have been extended into the crop arena as well. He pointed out that there was solar cooling technology to bring down the heat in the protected structures. CARDI is also collaborating with the University of the West Indies to look at cooling the structures.

“Then we have to look at drug and heat-tolerant varieties of plants; we’ve done some work on pigeon peas, corn, sweet potato, dasheen. A lot more of that work needs to be done; a lot more of resources need to be invested,” he said.

Credit: Caribbean 360

CCCCC at Bonn Climate Change Talks

Delegates gather for the first day of the Bonn Climate Change Conference. Photo Credit: IISD

On May 10, 2017, Dr. Ulric Trotz, Deputy Director and Science Advisor at the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) will share the reasons behind the Caribbean’s decision to support the campaign to keep global temperature rise at 1.5 degree, as an expert at the Research Dialogue in Bonn, Germany.

Dr. Ulric Trotz, Deputy Director and Science Advisor, CCCCC

Dr Trotz was invited to the Climate Talks in response to the call for the scientific community to provide information about the differences between 1.5 and two-degrees change in future temperatures, and the effects on climate change. One of the objectives of the Paris Agreement -signed by 195 countries in 2016- is to limit global warming to limit it to 1.5 degrees instead of the two degrees that has been proposed. The Caribbean and other small island states are proposed the former, because many small island states are already experiencing climate change and at two degrees, many others would be inundated by rising seas.

Mr. Carlos Fuller, International and Regional Liaison Officer, CCCCC and Chair of the SBSTA. Photo Credit: IISD

Mr Carlos Fuller, International and Regional Liaison Officer of the Centre is also attending the Talks as a member of the Belize delegation. He is currently the Chair of the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advise (SBSTA) which is convening its 46th session.

The Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI) and the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Paris Agreement (APA) are also holding their sessions in Bonn. The focus of these Climate Change Talks is to further the implementation of the Paris Agreement by drafting the so-called “rulebook” to guide its implementation.

Application of the ‘rulebook’ will require decisions on the transparency reporting guidelines, accounting, cooperative approaches of both market and non-market natures, nationally determined contributions (NDCs), and their means of implementation which include the provision and reporting of finance provided and received, technology development and transfer and capacity building. The standing issues on the SBSTA and SBI agendas are also being considered which include issues related to adaptation, mitigation, agriculture, land use change and forestry and response measures.

The Centre also organized a side event on May 8 to showcase its collaboration as part of a consortium to provide advice on the development of the transparency framework under the Paris Agreement.

The Bonn Climate Change Talks commenced on Monday 8 May and will conclude on Thursday 18 May. The talks will set the stage for the 23rd Conference of the Parties (COP 23) which will be convened in Bonn in November. COP 23 will be held under the Presidency of Fiji and will mark the first occasion in which a Small Island Developing State (SIDS) holds the Presidency of the COP.

Intensive Training Continues In An Effort To Increase Awareness Of The Impacts Of Climate Change

(L-R) Dr. Ulric Trotz, Deputy Director and Science Advisor, Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre with June Hughes, Senior Environment Officer at the Department of Environment,

The Department of Environment recognizes climate variability and climate change to be two of the most significant threats to sustainable development in St. Kitts and Nevis. Against this backdrop, a number of persons from various fields throughout the federation are currently attending an eight day National Training Workshop in the Use of Climate Models for Decision Making.

The workshop, which runs from April 19-28, is held under the auspices of the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

June Hughes, Senior Environment Officer at the Department of Environment, said that the training is timely, as climate change continues to be a clear and present danger. She noted that the department is working closely with regional and international partners to ensure that persons are aware of the dangers that exist.

“We in the Department of Environment have been working to raise awareness on the impacts of climate change, while taking advantage of every capacity building opportunity to improve our adaptive response have strengthened our mitigation measures,” she said. “Each training, workshop and meeting strengthens our country to address and reduce the impacts of climate change.”

Dr. Ulric Trotz, Deputy Director and Science Advisor at CCCCC, explained that the workshop would first be rolled out nationally in all 10 countries under the USAID banner, after which regional workshops will be held. He made mention of specific training tools that were developed with the aim of assisting in the generation of scientific information and analysis to help in making informed decisions. These include the Weather Generator (WG), the Tropical Storm Model/ Simple Model for the Advection of Storms and Hurricanes (SMASH), and the Caribbean Drought Assessment Tool (CARiDRO).

“The CARIWIG [Caribbean Weather Impacts Group] tool is a critical tool in that it more or less localizes the projection so that for instance, you can actually look at climate projections for the future in a watershed in St. Kitts and Nevis. It localizes that information and it makes it much more relevant to the local circumstance,” said Dr. Trotz.

The deputy executive director encouraged participants to acquire all the knowledge necessary, as it is the presenters hope that at the end of the training “a cadre of technical skills” would be developed in St. Kitts and Nevis and the region on whole that would help to deal successfully with the challenges faced from climate change.

Training and application of the tools will allow decision-makers to better understand the potential impacts of drought, tropical storms, and rainfall and temperature changes. When combined with other data and information, they can help to build a picture of potential impacts to key economic sectors in the country. The training will target key personnel whose focus are in areas of agriculture, water resources, coastal zone management, health, physical planning or disaster risk reduction.

 Credit: ZIZ Online

Building climate resilience is integral to continued prosperity in the Caribbean

Photo Credit: Carlos Octavio Uranga

The escalating cost of climate change to the Caribbean region makes a compelling argument for taking early action for adapting to climate change. An analysis of ten years of climate change research in the Caribbean found that sectors that are vital to regional economic and social development, including agriculture and tourism, are especially vulnerable to climate change and its impacts. The findings suggest that well-targeted measures to adapt will be essential to protect the development gains made by the region in recent decades.

The findings come from a new synthesis of climate research that has been compiled and released by the Climate and Development Knowledge Network (CDKN). The package draws on three CDKN-funded projects that have studied climate change in the Caribbean region over the past decade. The new analysis provides fresh insight into the nature of the climate threat to key sectors in the Caribbean, and draws together practical tools and methods that decision makers in the region can use to help them adapt.

The newly released ‘knowledge package’ draws on the CDKN-funded research to identify cross-cutting lessons. This, the second in a series of four knowledge package releases, focusses on making the case for climate resilient investment, identifying the risks and potential adaptation options.

The research, tools and other resources that have been used to formulate the knowledge package have been compiled and can be accessed via the CDKN website: cdkn.org/2017/02/climate-risk-caribbean-prosperity.

Key findings from the research include:

  1. Climate variability and change are already having severe impacts on key sectors including agriculture and tourism.
  2. These impacts are reversing economic growth, exacerbating poverty and undermining the future prosperity of Caribbean countries.
  3. CDKN research has provided locally appropriate climate change projections that give fresh insight into the vulnerability of key sectors.
  4. Adaptation investment in the agriculture sector is needed to account for projected changes in rainfall and growing seasons, and occurrence of extreme events, especially drought.
  5. Adaptation investment in the tourism sector is also needed to build resilience to rising seas, bleached coral reefs, water scarcity and gradual temperature increase.
  6. There are many potential adaptation measures that can be applied by governments, businesses, individuals and development partners.
  7. Financial support is needed to support adaptation action as high up-front costs are a barrier to local adaptation efforts.
  8. Effectively prioritising adaptation options can maximise their value and lead to positive co-benefits for individuals, businesses and society.

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: cdkn.org/2017/02/climate-risk-caribbean-prosperity

Credit: Climate and Development Knowledge Network (CDKN)

At UN Biodiversity conference, new guidelines for agro-environmental policies in Latin America & Caribbean

Photo: ©FAO/ Camilo Vargas

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

Commonwealth brainstorms climate change responses

The Commonwealth is bringing together global experts to thrash out new ideas for not just reducing climate change but actually reversing its effects by mimicking success stories in nature.

At a two-day gathering on Friday and Saturday at the 52-country organisation’s headquarters in London, a diverse band of experts in fields such as biomimicry, carbon sequestration, design and regeneration traded ideas for practical schemes that could pull carbon out of the air and put it back into the Earth.

Rather than a series of presentations, the conference instead saw experts from around the world huddle in groups to brainstorm.

A Commonwealth gathering in London will bring together experts in biomimicry, carbon sequestration, design and regeneration, to discuss ideas for practical s...

A Commonwealth gathering in London will bring together experts in biomimicry, carbon sequestration, design and regeneration, to discuss ideas for practical schemes that could pull carbon out of the air and put it back into the Earth ©Greg Baker (AFP/File)

“Some of our island states in the Pacific and the Caribbean will be hit first and potentially disappear, therefore climate change has been an issue of real importance to the Commonwealth,” Commonwealth Secretary General Patricia Scotland told AFP.

– Termite mound buildings –

Examples were shared of concrete absorbing carbon, ecologically destroyed landscapes flourishing again through getting carbon back into the soil, and getting more productive agriculture through mimicking the ecosystems of wild, untended land.

There were discussions on buildings designed like termite mounds that ventilate themselves with cool air, or making ships’ hulls like shark skin.

Also mooted were vertical axis wind turbines arranged in school-of-fish formation so the ones behind gain momentum from the vortices, creating far more wind power than regular wind farms.

“It’s stunning, but this is not inventing anything new. Life’s been at it for 3.8 billion years,” biomimicry expert Janine Benyus told AFP.

“We’re talking about bringing carbon home — rebalancing the problem of too much carbon in the air and not enough in the soil,” she added, stepping out of a workshop.

With its diverse membership covering a quarter of the world’s countries, action within the Commonwealth often paves the way for wider global agreements.

The climate change accords reached at its biennial summit in Malta last December were instrumental in the Paris COP21 UN climate conference deal struck later that month, which agreed to cap global warming at less than two degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels.

– ‘Practical, practical, practical’ –

Scotland will take forward ideas and outcomes from the London workshop to the COP22 summit in Marrakesh in November.

“We’re setting off the starter pistol for this race,” the secretary-general said.

“The Commonwealth is seeking to be the platform through which ideas can be transferred.

However, in the arena of climate change, many intriguing proposals get ditched on the grounds of cost, practicality or fears that they could end up inflicting environmental damage.

“We’re looking at how we can share real solutions and help each other to get there faster,” said Scotland.

“We’re saying ‘practical, practical, practical’. If it works, it’s affordable, implementable and makes the difference, then we need people to understand they can believe in it.”

Some sessions focused on so-called big picture ideas, looking at Earth as a complete system.

Delegates discussed how carbon can be used as a resource, in which returning it to the ground can bring about lasting soil fertility and jobs and thereby political stability.

“Life creates conditions conducive to life. It’s about creating new virtuous circles rather than vicious ones,” said Daniel Wahl, who designs regenerative cultures.

“If we do a good job, we can find the funding because the will is there,” he told AFP.

“The time of ‘them and us’ thinking is past. The people who were against each other now have to come together.

“People are dying today from the effects of climate change. To them, it’s not an intellectual debate any more.”

New high for global greenhouse gas emissions

New high for global greenhouse gas emissions ©Simon MALFATTO, Paz PIZARRO (AFP)

Credit: Daily Mail Online

Climate change will impact Caribbean resources

Alberton Pacheco, Regional Coordinator for Ecosystems of the United Nations Environmental Programme, said yesterday climate change and climate variability strongly impact water resources in the Caribbean. He said the region suffers from a lot of droughts, which affects agriculture and when these droughts pass they are usually followed by periods of floods.

“In the long run, there will be an affectation by climate change in the Caribbean and that’s the reason we have been advocating for the integrated management of water resources. If we are able to manage our water resources we might be able to save enough water for whenever we have an extended period of drought and likewise when we have floods we can manage ourselves a little better, because the problem that we have at the moment is that in either instance, either drought or floods, the region’s agricultural soil is being affected, you actually get the fragmentation of the soil from too much drought and you have the loss of soil enrichment from the floods.” Pacheco was leading a discussion on water management at the Caribbean Basin Forum and afterwards spoke to Newsday about the importance of the issue.

The Caribbean Basin Forum was held in advance of the official opening of the 2016 Caribbean Water and Wastewater Association Conference on Monday evening at the Hyatt Regency.

The conference is continuing all week at the hotel.

Pacheco said that the region needs to communicate the usefulness of water as a development resource: “you cannot develop your agriculture, you cannot have an expansion of the tourism sector if you do not factor in how you are going to manage your water resources in the long term.” He said integrated water management was a tool to do that kind of planning at the national level in terms of legislation and in terms of policy. He added that there needed to be the political will to do so and slowly but surely politicians were starting to become aware of how to use the natural resources in the productive sector.

He said issues of climate change have already been key discussion points in the conference because the whole issue of access to water is one of the UN’s eight Sustainable Development Goals, pointing out that the world cannot plan for the future in terms of access to water unless it confronts the issue of climate change.

Credit: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Central American professionals learn about farmer citizen science for climate adaptation

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Central America Training

In August and September 2016, agricultural professionals in three Central American countries, Nicaragua, Honduras and Guatemala, learned about an exciting methodology to involve farmers as citizen scientists.

The methodology – called ‘tricot’ as an abbreviation from ‘triadic comparisons of technologies’ – has been designed by Bioversity International with the aim of reaching a large number of farmers with participatory trials for climate adaptation.

By involving a large number of farmers working in different production environments, the tricot methodology allows scientists to collect more data and increase their understanding of climate adaptation. It also serves as a bridge between research and development practice, by putting technologies to the test directly on the farm.

The trial format is simple: each farmer tests three agricultural technologies and judges the best and worst for different aspects of performance. These data are then matched with environmental data to be analyzed. So far, we have done trials to test crop varieties, but this methodology can be used to study also other agricultural technologies.

During the course, participants learned about the theory behind the new approach and had the opportunity to do practical exercises. One of the main tools they learned about is the ClimMob platform, which provides digital support throughout the testing process. ClimMob supports trial design, data collection with mobile phones, and data analysis and report creation.

Participants – 79 professionals representing 33 organizations including farmer organizations, development NGOs, agricultural research institutes and universities – did an example trial, designed their own project and discussed how this new methodology fits into new and ongoing activities.

In Nicaragua, participants decided to go for a larger trial than originally planned, now that they fully understood the methodology. In Honduras, participants discussed about how the new methodology fits in ongoing varietal testing schemes and decided to apply it to a wide range of crops. In Guatemala, the national agricultural research institute, ICTA, sent a large delegation of young researchers to learn about the new methodology. Brandon Madriz and Jacob van Etten of Bioversity International served as course instructors.

Course participants rated both the course and the platform. In each country, the course was rated as excellent. The platform, still in beta version, was rated by course participants as ‘good’ according to the widely used System Usability Score. During the course, participants provided many useful suggestions to improve the digital platform.

The course also served as the kick-off meeting of a new project on agrobiodiversity management for climate adaptation and food security, implemented by the Collaborative Program on Participatory Plant Breeding in Mesoamerica. The project, coordinated by the Guatemalan farmer organization Asocuch, is financed by the Benefit Sharing Fund of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture.

The tricot methodology will be used in this project, but the course participants also identified a large number of opportunities to use the platform beyond this particular project.

This research is part of the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security and supported by CGIAR Fund Donors.

Credit: Excerpt taken from the Agriculture in the News: issues affecting Caribbean agriculture 11-17 September 2016 

Tackling climate change in the Caribbean

climate change

Sanchez, Petite Martinique. Climate-Proofing the tiny island of Petite Martinique includes a sea revetment 140 metres long to protect critical coastal infrastructure from erosion. (Photo: TECLA  FONTENAD/IPS)

The world is still celebrating the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, the main outcome of the 21st Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Its ambitions are unprecedented: not only has the world committed to limit the increase of temperature to “well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels,” it has also agreed to pursue efforts to “limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C.”

This achievement should be celebrated, especially by Small Island Development States (SIDS), a 41-nation group—nearly half of them in the Caribbean—that has been advocating for increased ambition on climate change for nearly a quarter century.

SIDS are even more vulnerable to climate change impacts — and risk losing more. Global warming has very high associated damages and costs to families, communities and entire countries, including their Gross Domestic Product (GDP) according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

What does this mean for the Caribbean? Climate change is recognized as one of the most serious challenges to the Caribbean. With the likelihood that climate change will exacerbate the frequency and intensity of the yearly hurricane season, comprehensive measures are needed to protect at-risk communities.

Moreover, scenarios based on moderate curbing of greenhouse gas emissions reveal that surface temperature would increase between 1.2 and 2.3 °C across the Caribbean in this century. In turn, rainfall is expected to decrease about 5 to 6 per cent. As a result, it will be the only insular region in the world to experience a decrease in water availability in the future.

The combined impact of higher temperatures and less water would likely result in longer dry periods and increased frequency of droughts, which threaten agriculture, livelihoods, sanitation and ecosystems.

Perhaps the most dangerous hazard is sea level rise. The sea level may rise up to 0.6 meters in the Caribbean by the end of the century, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. This could actually flood low-lying areas, posing huge threats, particularly to the smallest islands, and impacting human settlements and infrastructure in coastal zones. It also poses serious threats to tourism, a crucial sector for Caribbean economies: up to 60 per cent of current resorts lie around the coast and these would be greatly damaged by sea level increase.

Sea level rise also risks saline water penetrating into freshwater aquifers, threatening crucial water resources for agriculture, tourism and human consumption, unless expensive treatments operations are put into place.

In light of these prospects, adapting to climate change becomes an urgent necessity for SIDS—including in the Caribbean. It is therefore not surprising that all Caribbean countries have submitted a section on adaptation within their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs), which are the voluntary commitments that pave the way for the implementation of the Paris Agreement.

In their INDCs, Caribbean countries overwhelmingly highlight the conservation of water resources and the protection of coastal areas as their main worries. Most of them also consider adaptation initiatives in the economic and productive sectors, mainly agriculture, fisheries, tourism and forestry.

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has been supporting Caribbean countries in their adaptation efforts for many years now, through environmental, energy-related and risk reduction projects, among others.

This week we launched a new partnership with the Government of Japan, the US$15 million Japan-Caribbean Climate Change Partnership (J-CCCP), in line with the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. The initiative will be implemented in eight Caribbean countries: Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, benefitting an estimated 200,000 women and men in 50 communities.

It will set out a roadmap to mitigate and adapt to climate change, in line with countries’ long-term strategies, helping put in practice Caribbean countries’ actions and policies to reduce greenhouse as emissions and adapt to climate change. It will also boost access to sustainable energy and help reduce fossil fuel imports and dependence, setting the region on a low-emission development path, while addressing critical balance of payments constraints.

When considering adaptation measures to the different impacts of climate change there are multiple options. Some rely on infrastructure, such as dikes to control sea level rise, but this can be particularly expensive for SIDS, where the ratio of coastal area to land mass is very high.

In this context, ecosystem-based adaptation activities are much more cost-effective, and, in countries with diverse developmental priorities and where financial resources are limited, they become an attractive alternative. This means healthy, well-functioning ecosystems to boost natural resilience to the adverse impacts of climate change, reducing people’s vulnerabilities as well.

UNDP, in partnership with national and local governments in the Caribbean, has been championing ecosystem-based adaptation and risk reduction with very rewarding results.

For example, the Government of Cuba partnered with UNDP, scientific institutes and forestry enterprises to restore mangrove forests along 84 km of the country’s southern shore to slow down saline intrusion from the sea level rise and reduce disaster risks, as the mangrove acts as a protective barrier against hurricanes.

In Grenada, in coordination with the Government and the German International Cooperation Agency, we supported the establishment of a Community Climate Change Adaptation Fund, a small grants mechanism, to provide opportunities to communities to cope with the effects of climate change and extreme weather conditions. We have engaged with local stakeholders to develop climate smart agricultural projects, and climate resilient fisheries, among other activities in the tourism and water resources sectors.

UNDP’s support is directed to balance social and economic development with environmental protection, directly benefitting communities. Our approach is necessarily aligned with the recently approved 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda and its associated Sustainable Development Goals, delivering on protecting ecosystems and natural resources, promoting food security and sanitation, while also helping reduce poverty and promoting sustainable economic growth.

While there is significant potential for climate change adaptation in SIDS, it will require additional external resources, technologies and strengthening of local capacities. In UNDP we are ideally placed to continue working hand-in-hand with Caribbean countries as they implement their INDCs and find their own solutions to climate-change adaptation, while also sharing knowledge and experiences within the region and beyond.

 

Jessica Faieta is United Nations Assistant Secretary General and UNDP Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean.

 

 

Credit: Caribbean 360
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