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Indoor Mini-Farms to Beat Climate Change

Industrial engineer Ancel Bhagwandeen says growing your food indoor is a great way to protect crops from the stresses of climate change. So he developed a hydroponic system that “leverages the nanoclimates in houses so that the house effectively protects the produce the same way it protects us,” he says.

Bhagwandeen told IPS that his hydroponic project was also developed “to leverage the growth of the urban landscape and high-density housing, so that by growing your own food at home, you mitigate the cost of food prices.”

The hydroponic unit can also run on solar energy. Credit: Jewel Fraser/IPS

The hydroponic unit can also run on solar energy. Credit: Jewel Fraser/IPS

Hydroponics, a method of growing plants without soil using mineral nutrients in water, is increasingly considered a viable means to ensure food security in light of climate change.

His project is one of several being considered for further development by the Caribbean Climate Innovation Centre (CCIC), headquartered in Jamaica.

The newly launched CCIC, which is funded mainly by the World Bank and the government of Canada, seeks to  fund innovative projects that will “change the way we live, work and build to suit a changing climate,” said Everton Hanson, the CCIC’s CEO.

Dr. Ulric Trotz, Deputy Director and Science Advisor at the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre, 
chairs the CCIC's Management Committee.

A first step to developing such projects is through Proof of Concept (POC) funding, which makes available grants from 25,000 to 50,000 dollars to successful applicants to “help the entrepreneur to finance those costs that are related to proving that the idea can work,” said Hanson.

Among the items that POC funding will cover are prototype development such as design, testing, and field trials; market testing; raw materials and consumables necessary to achieve proof of concept; and costs related to applications for intellectual property rights in the Caribbean.

A POC competition is now open that will run until the end of March. “After that date the applications will be evaluated. We are looking for ideas that can be commercialised and the plan is to select the best ideas,” Hanson said.

The CCIC, which is jointly managed by the Scientific Research Council in Jamaica and the Caribbean Industrial Research Institute in Trinidad and Tobago, is seeking projects that focus on water management, resource use efficiency, energy efficiency, solar energy, and sustainable agribusiness.

Bhagwandeen entered the POC competition in hopes of securing a grant, because “this POC funding would help in terms of market testing,” he explained.

The 48-year-old engineer says he wishes to build dozens of model units and “distribute them in various areas, then monitor the operations and take feedback from users.” He said he would be testing for usability and reliability, as well as looking for feedback on just how much light is needed and the best locations in a house or building for situating his model.

“I would then take the feedback, and any issues that come up I can refine before going into mass marketing,” he said.

Bhagwandeen’s model would enable homeowners to grow leafy vegetables, including herbs, lettuce and tomatoes, inside their home or apartment, with minimal expense and time.

The model uses smart electronics, meaning that 100 units can run on the same energy as a 60-watt light bulb, he said. So it differs from typical hydroponics systems that consume a great deal of energy, he added. His model can also run on the energy provided by its own small solar panel and can work both indoors and outdoors.

Bhagawandeen said his model’s design is premised on the fact that “our future as a people is based more and more on city living and in order for that to be sustainable, we need to have city farming at a family level.”

U.N. report says that “the population living in urban areas is projected to gain 2.6 billion, passing from 3.6 billion in 2011 to 6.3 billion in 2050.” Most of that urban growth will be concentrated in the cities and towns of the world’s less developed regions.

To meet the challenges of climate change adaptation, the CCIC “will support Caribbean entrepreneurs involved in developing locally appropriate solutions to climate change.”

Bhagwandeen said that support from organisations like the CCIC is critical for climate change entrepreneurs. “From the Caribbean perspective, especially Trinidad and Tobago, we are a heavily consumer-focused society. One of the negatives of Trinidad’s oil wealth is that we are not accustomed to developing technology for ourselves. We buy it.”

“We are a society of traders and distributors and there is very little support for innovators and entrepreneurs.”

He said access to markets and investors poses a serious challenge for regional innovators like himself, who typically have to rely on bootstrapping to get their business off the ground.

Typically, he said, regional innovators have to make small quantities of an item, sell those items, and then use the funds to make incrementally larger quantities. “So that if you get an order for 500 units, you cannot fulfill that order,” he said.

Fourteen Caribbean states are involved in CCIC: Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago.

The Caribbean CCIC is one of eight being developed across the world.

Credit: Inter Press Services News Agency

Extension of Deadline: AQUASTAT Update for the Caribbean Consultancies

The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the Global Water Partnership-Caribbean are still seeking consultants to update the FAO’s AQUASTAT Report for the Caribbean. The deadline date for proposals for Cuba, Dominican Republic and Jamaica only, has been extended to March 5th, 2014.

Download the Terms of Reference for the three (3) consultancies below:

AQUASTAT Update for Cuba

AQUASTAT Update for Dominican Republic

AQUASTAT Update for Jamaica

The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has a unique global water information system, AQUASTAT, developed since 1993 by the Land and Water Division. The main objective of the programme is to systematically select the most reliable information on hydrological resources and water use in each country, as well as to make this information available in a standard format for interested global, regional and national users.

The last update of the AQUASTAT report for the Caribbean was done in 2000. Hence the FAO in partnership with the Global Water Partnership-Caribbean (GWP-C) search for suitable consultants to update the FAO’s global water information system – AQUASTAT through five (5) consultancies for the following countries:

  • Cuba
  • Dominican Republic
  • Haiti
  • Jamaica
  • Lesser Antilles (Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Trinidad and Tobago)

Interested persons should submit their proposals for Cuba, Dominican Republic and Jamaica only via email to info@gwp-caribbean.org and address to the GWP-C Regional Coordinator.

Download the Terms of Reference for the various consultancies here.

Source: Global Water Partnership-Caribbean (GWP-C)

5Cs launches first CARICOM-wide energy efficiency project

eNERGY EFFICIENCY

The Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre launched a four year (2013- 2017) multi-million dollar regional energy efficiency project on August 13, 2013. The US$12,484,500 Energy for Sustainable Development (ESD) in Caribbean Buildings Project, which is jointly funded by a grant (US$4,859,000) from the Global Environment Facility (GEF), and co-financing in the sum of US$7,625,500 from the Centre and five Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries, seeks to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 20% in the near-term and make the region’s energy sectors more efficient through increased use of renewable energy.

Approximately 30 key stakeholders involved in the project, including representatives from the five participating countries (Belize, Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, Saint Lucia and the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago) were in attendance for the launch event in Belize City, Belize.

Dr. Al Binger, Energy Science Advisor at the Centre and Technical Coordinator for the ESD Project, says Belize will be the first CARICOM country to begin implementation.

The project is the first regional project of its kind in CARICOM.

  The project is expected to:
  1. Increase the number of successful commercial applications of energy efficiency and conservation in buildings
  2. Expand the market for renewable energy technology applications for power generation and productive uses
  3. Enhance institutional capacity to design, implement and monitor energy projects for sustainable development
  4. Provide access and availability of financing energy efficiency and conservation and renewable energy projects Increase awareness and knowledge about sustainable energy among key stakeholders.

Dr. Binger says the project is particularly important as the region imports in excess of 170 million barrels of petroleum products, annually, with 30 million barrels used in the electric sector, much of which is consumed by buildings across the region. Therefore, improving the efficiency of energy use in the building sector is a project priority.

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) is the GEF implementing agency, and the Centre as the executing agency. The United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) will provide technical support.

Also read: Brian Bernal Tackles Climate Change Resilience and Building Codes in the Caribbean

5Cs Joins First Forum of the Standing Committee on Finance

Carlos Fuller, International and Regional Liasion Officer

Carlos Fuller, International and Regional Liasion Officer

The Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre’s (CCCCC) International and Regional Liaison Officer, Mr Carlos Fuller, was a panelist at the First Forum of the Standing Committee on Climate in Barcelona, Spain on May 28, 2013. At the historic forum addressing “financing and investment drivers for adaptation activities”, Mr Fuller discussed the Centre’s adaptation efforts across the Caribbean. He noted that these activities are in support of the mandate that the CARICOM Heads of Government endorsed in the region’s Implementation Plan for the “Regional Framework for Achieving Development Resilient to Climate Change”.

Other members of the panel included Mr Juan Hoffmaster of Bolivia, who represented the UNFCCC Adaptation Committee, Ms. Smita Nakooda of the Overseas Development Institute and Ms Saliha Dobardzic of the LDCF/SCCF of the Global Environment Facility (GEF). The panel was facilitated by the co-chair of the Work Programme on Long-term Finance, Mr Naderev Sano of the Philippines.

The Standing Committee is a body of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) established at COP 16. Its mandate is improving coherence and coordination in the delivery of climate change financing, rationalization of the financial mechanism, mobilization of financial resources and measurement, reporting and verification of support provided to developing country Parties.

Dr Hugh Sealy of Barbados, the Vice Chairman of the Executive Board of the CDM was also a panellist at the forum addressing “Financing and investment drivers for mitigation activities”. Among the 100 attendees was Mr Derreck Oderson of Barbados, the Chairman of the Joint Implementation Supervisory Committee (JISC) and Mr Raymond Landveld, Counsellor at the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Suriname to the United Nations who is a member of the Standing Committee.

The Forum was organized by the Standing Committee on Finance of the UNFCCC with support by the World Bank Institute and the International Emission Trading Association (IETA). Panellists included representatives of national governments, international organizations such as the South Center, the International Finance Corporation, the IDB, GIZ, OECD and the private sector, Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Standard Bank (Nairobi). Carbon Expo 2013 will be held at the same venue on 29 to 31 May 2013.

At the conclusion of the Forum, the co-chair of the standing Committee, Ambassador Dianne Black-Layne of Antigua and Barbuda noted that the insights of the Forum would inform the next meeting of the Forum to be held in Bonn, Germany in June.

The Forum was formally closed by Secretary of State of the Environment of Spain, Mr Federico Ramos de Armas and Ms Christiana Figueres, the Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC.

Several Caribbean Small Island States to Create Biosphere Reserves

Country Representatives

Country Representatives

Several Caribbean nations committed to  a three-year action plan that aims to create at least one biosphere reserve in each island at the UNESCO Inter-Ministerial Conference on “Biosphere Reserves in the Caribbean Small Island States – Tools for sustainable development and growth” in St. Kitts and Nevis on March 27.

At the conference organised by the  Government of St. Kitts and Nevis and the Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme, Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Curacao, Dominica, Grenada, Jamaica, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Maarten, St Vincent and the Grenadines, and Trinidad and Tobago  signed the declaration that will allow them to use the reserves as tools for innovative projects to add value to local socio-economic activities.

Of the 610 biosphere reserves worldwide (117 countries), only four are in the Caribbean: St Kitts, Haiti, Cuba and the Dominican Republic.

Read the full declaration here and the St Kitts Action Plan

**Sources: UNESCO and Jamaican Observer
Learn more about how we’re working to make the Caribbean more climate resilient by perusing The Implementation Plan for “Delivering transformational change 2011-21″.
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