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Message from the Executive Director, Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre to Our Partners and Stakeholders
- Challenge 1: Water sector infrastructure exposed to damage and disruption from water-related hazards;
- Challenge 2: Increasing demand, inefficient water use and leakage exacerbating the vulnerability of existing water supply systems and sources;
- Challenge 3: Effectiveness of community and urban water supply systems exposed to increasing climate variability;
- Challenge 4: Agricultural production vulnerable to seasonal rainfall and drought;
- Challenge 5: Effective management of water resource quantity and quality threatened by a changing climate; and
- Challenge 6: Escalating costs of flood-related damage and losses
“In the 1970’s most of the cattle population was wiped out because there was no water for the cattle to drink; no feed….in 1961 there was a drought where the school had to be closed for weeks, because there was no water for the children to drink. …In the 1950s, 60s and 70s water had to be transported from Grenada to Petit Martinique…and in during distribution of water there were fights and quarrels,” said Mr. Logan.
Carlos Fuller, International and Regional Liaison Officer of the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre delivered a presentation on Belize and the International Response to Climate Change at the Second Part of the Energy of nature vs the Nature of Energy Conference Series which was held at the Radisson Fort George Hotel in Belize City, Belize on 27 July 2016. Fuller’s presentation focused on Belize’s vulnerability to climate change, the international response to climate change and Belize’s contribution to the Paris Agreement. Carolyn-Trench Sandiford spoke about the importance of planning to adapt to climate change. Roberto Pott delivered a presentation on the impacts of climate change on Belize’s coastal and marine resources while Ansel Dubon spoke about Belize’s efforts to transition to renewable energy. The guest speaker was Dr. Patricia Majluf, Vice President of Oceana Peru, who provided reflections on the impacts of climate change on Peru’s fishing industry.
The conference was opened by the Honourable Omar Figueroa, the Minister of Sate in the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, Forestry, Environment and Sustainable Development in Belize. The conference was organized by Oceana Belize and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).
According to Belize’s policy targets, the country intends to increase its share of renewable energy. Bioenergy, especially Biogas, is not being utilized on industrial levels. To help achieve this goal and build capacity in this sector, the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) in cooperation with GIZ REETA is offering a free of charge BIOENERGY Course at its training Centre in the country’s capital, Belmopan on the 15 – 25 August, 2016.
Participants who successfully complete the course will receive a certificate that demonstrates their ability to plan, prepare and conduct Bioenergy training seminars and implement bioenergy projects to high standards. These seminars provide an excellent opportunity for professional development in the renewable energy field, while ensuring the sustainable use of the knowledge.
The course at the Centre will be held for 15 persons, so early application/registration is vital for participation please send a curriculum vitae (CV) and note explaining why the bioenergy course is significant to your development. Email your CV to Henrik Personn at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please review the schedule for details.
According to a recent publication, by 2100 Belize’s population is projected to reach 1 million, but at the same time, substantial portions of the country could be under water due to sea level rise, exacerbating demand for natural resources. Global warming is said to be the culprit, and the novel energy financing is intended to help scale back some of its effects.
In March, research published by the Nature journal and featured in the Washington Post indicates that sea levels are rising twice as fast as had been previously estimated, and the projection says that it will rise more than 6 feet by the end of the century.
An online model shows that over time Belize gradually disappears under rising water levels over the centuries, with the last refuge being the Maya Mountain Massif in Central Belize—where the highest lands are located. Belize appears to be one of the most vulnerable Central American countries to sea level rise.
Amandala spoke with Dr. Kenrick Leslie, Executive Director of the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC), a CARICOM agency based in Belize, who explained that most of Central America is much more mountainous than Belize, which has a very flat coastline with much of its land mass in the north and coast being at or slightly below sea level.
As a consequence, sea level rise would impact Belize much more than places like Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica.
“The entire northern half of Belize and the entire coastal area all the way down to PG would also be under water,” Leslie said, pointing to the not too distant future.
Dr. Leslie told us that currently, the sea is rising about 3 millimeters (mm) per year.
“That might sound very small, but 3 millimeters in a year, in 10 years that’s 30 millimeters,” said Leslie.
He explained that every millimeter rise, translates to a meter of land being submerged. This, he noted, could have implications for places such as airports, as well as infrastructure on the cayes.
“So by the end of this century, you would have quite a bit of rise and coastal areas would be well under water,” said Leslie.
This could have serious implications for the country’s water supply, he said. Inland waters would become more saline. He noted that currently, the national water network feeds from Mile 16 in the Belize River area, but the network would have to find a source point far more inland.
Leslie said that the rate he quoted does not take into account the doubling recently reported in the Washington Post and Nature articles.
By the end of the century, most of Belize City would be under water; and that does not take into account the tides or a storm surge, he added.
“There are other factors that would make the matter much more complicated. All our offshore cayes, all those cayes at best are 3 feet above sea level; if you go up a foot of water, all the infrastructure would be severely impacted, including all the hotels,” he said.
“In terms of municipal airports; that would be under water…” Leslie told us. “Placencia would be under water,” he added.
The problem is that as a country, Belize has no control over sea level and the phenomenon that is driving it. According to the researchers who recently doubled the estimates for sea level rise, the ice caps in Antarctica are melting faster than had been thought due to high levels of greenhouse gas emissions.
“The world took too long to start to address the climate change seriously,” Dr. Leslie said. “The water does not rise uniformly; it rises in some places faster than others.”
“We are in 2016, but in 2025, the water would have come up at least 3 more inches; and by 2050, which is not too far away and assuming the same 3mm rise per year (we are talking another 34 years), that would be affecting almost the whole of Belize City already – even at the current rate – and most of our cayes,” Leslie told us.
Other Caribbean countries, even those that are more mountainous than Belize, are also vulnerable, because of their size and the location of key national assets, such as their airports. In Jamaica, two of their international airports are along the coast. The cost to the economy of countries in our region could be huge, but awareness of the future impacts of climate change and sea level rise on our region could help countries prepare for the changes that lie ahead, such as retrofitting infrastructure.
Leslie indicated that the Green Climate Fund is just coming online and countries have to make sure that they submit proposals for financing efforts to build resilience to climate change.
“The onus is on the countries like Belize to start to understand how to write projects that can be funded under the Green Climate Fund,” Leslie said.
He told us that the Climate Change Centre is the only centre in our region, and one of the few in the world, accredited by the Green Climate Fund as an implementing entity. The Center can access (on behalf of CARICOM countries) monies for projects that can address climate change, in the range of US$10 million to US$50 million.
“The countries have to be proactive. We can submit on their behalf but they have to take the initiative,” he said.
Currently the Centre is working along with Belize on renewable energy projects that would cut cost, Leslie informed.
All CARICOM countries, including Belize, recently signed the Paris Agreement at the special ceremony held in the US in April. The agreement is aimed at checking global warming and consequently containing sea level rise; but there are doubts as to whether the target set in the agreement can be met.
When CARICOM leaders met in Belize this February, James Fletcher, chairman of both the CARICOM Task Force of Sustainable Development and the Regional Coordinating Committee on Climate Change, told our newspaper that, “There is a point to which the money can’t help, so if you’re going to have a climate that by the end of the century would have warmed up by 4 degrees Celsius, I don’t know that there is any amount of money that you can give to a country like the Maldives… or maybe some other island in the Bahamas, because these islands will disappear.”
Fletcher said that while countries have committed to “intended nationally determined contributions (INDCs),” the aggregate effect, even with those in place, suggests a 2.7 degree rise in temperature by end of the century.
“That’s not good enough [because] for SIDs [small island developing states], anything above 1.5 will be catastrophic…” he said. “Anything above that… becomes a vicious cycle that we can’t win.”
Dr. Leslie notes that the Paris Agreement only kicks in after a minimum number of countries ratify it—and those countries must include key ones such as the USA and China.
Back in Belize, where the country’s vulnerability to climate change and sea level rise is little understood, there is also the need to address the problem of deforestation, which could exacerbate the situation on the ground.
According to Jaume Ruscalleda, Sustainable Land Use Officer at Ya’axché Conservation Trust, since Independence, Belize’s forest cover has declined from 74% to 60%, and by the end of the century, the country will only have 26% forest cover, mostly in the Maya Mountain range—which, we note, is incidentally the last refuge from sea level rise.
Ruscalleda cited maps shared by Emil Cherrington, a Belizean who does remote monitoring of Belize’s forest cover and by the University of Belize, which also documents the disappearance of the country’s forest cover.
Dr. Leslie urges “proper land use planning,” adding that this should have been done with or without climate change.
“It comes back to the border problem. There are a lot of the prime areas which have been designated by our country which are not to be used for clearing and agriculture, but [Guatemalans] are coming across the border and doing just that. This should be addressed,” Leslie urged.
With more than 170 participating countries and over 1500 project submissions annually, the Energy Globe Award is a prestigious environmental prize worldwide. It distinguishes projects regionally, nationally and globally that conserve resources such as energy or utilize renewable or emission-free sources. The 2016 National Winner of the Energy Globe Award in Belize installed a mobile biogas laboratory at the University of Belize’s Belmopan Campus in order to build capacity in the biogas sector. The submission for the Project “Biogas Laboratory at UB” was made by Henrik Personn, the Renewable Energy Expert at the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC). The CCCCC is awarded the Energy Globe for Belize (for the project).
In its efforts, the CCCCC has been granted the support within the GIZ – REETA program to introduce a mobile biogas Laboratory at the University of Belize (UB) for use within CARICOM Members states and also by the private sector. The vision of the project meant that the CCCCC would purchase a facility to convert biomass into biogas by using locally supplied feedstock, consisting mostly of easy to harvest biomass, manure and organic waste. The laboratory was installed on November 27, 2015 and the CCCCC and GIZ REETA recognized UB for being a strong partner with the best capacity in Belize to utilize the Laboratory.
Since its installation, UB’s Faculty of Science and Technology has made strides in incorporating the Biogas Laboratory into educational activities through research and teaching. Currently, a collaborative effort to assess the biogas potential of several waste biomass including banana and citrus is being executed. A student in the University’s Bachelors of Biology Program recently conducted thesis work in the lab and presented his findings at the UB Biology and Chemistry Symposium held in May 2016. The University is also actively engaging stakeholders to determine how the biogas lab can contribute to solving some environmental concerns. As an example, the lab has received interest from Belize Aquaculture Limited to evaluate shrimp waste in its potential to produce biogas as an option for adding value to organic shrimp waste. Ultimately, UB intends to expand the lab’s capacity to provide scientific data that can contribute to the climate change agenda. This ranges in areas from guiding management decisions to reducing pollution due to organic waste to generating a renewable source of energy that can contribute to meeting cooking needs of rural communities. To achieve those goals, the University is seeking partnerships that can help support the initiatives of the Lab. Therefore, the Laboratory is exploring the possibility of expanding its research capacity through participation in the Red Mesoamericana de Investigacion y Desarrollo de Biocombustibles (RMIDB) and will be submitting a proposal for funding consideration from the network.
The Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Technical Assistance (REETA) is a four year Project funded by the Government of Germany through the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH. The REETA Project collaborates with the CARICOM Energy Programme in rendering support in the areas of Capacity-Building, Private Sector Cooperation and Regional Institutional Support.
For further information on the UB Biogas Laboratory research activities contact Karen Link or Mark O’Brien (501-822 -1000) at UB. For further information on the CCCCC’s involvement in the project contact Henrik Personn at (501-822-1104) or via email@example.com.
Every year on June 5th, World Environment Day (WED) which is run by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) is celebrated to to raise awareness about environmental issues and inspire people across earth to adapt healthy lifestyles and safe practices to keep our planet healthy. WED is revered in over 100 nations, and it is also celebrated in Belize, the host country for the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC).
Protecting nature and earth, one of the focuses of WED is a priority that complements the work of the CCCCC. This weekend, Centre liaised with teachers and students and teachers from Belmopan Comprehensive High School, Belmopan Methodist High School and Belmopan Active Youths (BAY) for an excursion in honor of WED. On Saturday June 4th, 40 teachers and students went to the Toledo District to learn about agro-farming and the lifestyle of the people of Trio Village who truly live on the land.
The students learned of the collaboration between the CCCCC, the Trio Farmers Cacao Growers Association and Ya’axché Conservation Trust. The CCCCC utilized $250,000 US from UK-DFID to sponsor over 28,0000 cacao seedlings to the farming association. The three groups collaborated and received a unique concession from the Forestry Department to receive a substantial concession to develop 926 acres within the Maya Mountain North Forest Reserve.
On this visit the farmers showed them the additional 28,000 seedlings that were in the nursery which they would be planting as soon as they reach the right height. The students asked farmers like Isabel Rash how they watered the seedlings which was trek into the reserve. The questions also addressed drought and how the techniques utilized by agro-farming were different from the ones they used before.
As they trekked deeper into the reserve, they found the crops such as beans and plantains that were also being grown by the farmers as a faster cash crop while the first set of cacao plants still needed more time to mature before the fruit would be ready for harvesting.
One student commented that the soil seemed rich since there was no burning and also commented how it must had been harder for the crops to grow without using pesticides and chemicals to fertilize the soil.The Ya’axché officer on site, Julio Chub explained that the farmers used sawdust and decayed forest material to enrich the soil. He further stated that the conditions set by the Forest Department ensured that the soil and the forest would continue to be healthy.
Isabel Rash, one of the leaders of the group explained that it continues to be hard work, but the benefit is there for their families and they will have an income to sustain them all year round, rather than with seasonal work in the banana industry which was his primary means of earning an income.
There are at least 9 women in the Trio Farmers Cacao Growers Association and the students had an opportunity to meet 3 of them near the honey harvesting operation. Their trainer Isodoro Sho explained that not all the villagers had an opportunity to pursue education beyond primary school, and learning about bee keeping was one way they could earn money to put themselves back in the classroom or grow into a self-employed women. The students were particularly quiet when they met young women, their peers in age, being responsible citizens.
The head of the Belmopan Active Youths, Anna Guy felt the experience was a good one and to have met some of the Trio villagers. After seeing the bee keepers in action, the students laughed and ran as the first bees flew out of the hives.
But their running took them to the homes of the bee keepers who had fresh batches of honey on hand to sell. And while the transactions were ongoing, Mr. Sho informed the students that the association was developing a brand for the honey so that people would know whose honey they were buying and that the bees would also be used as part of the pollination process in the concession area.
The final stop in the village was to the house of Victor Tut. Tut had just completed a ceremony for his son who graduated from high school and hoped to enroll in the National Resource Management Program at the University of Belize. With the bus parked outside the home, the students and teachers were welcome inside to a bowl of freshly cooked food and a smooth cup of cacao juice. The day that started at 6:30 a.m. in Belmopan and stretched into the Humming Bird and Southern Highways had suddenly turned into a hungry and heavy 5 p.m. inside Tut’s home. At dusk, boarding the bus, the students gave a hearty goodbye as they returned with new friends from the group interactions, photos and lessons learned about Trio Village for World Environment Day.
The Ministry of Forestry, Fisheries and Sustainable Development (MFFSD) under the “Enhancing Belize’s Resilience to Adapt to the Effects of Climate Change” project which was funded by the European Union gave the initial support that started the Caribbean Community Climate Change Clubs.
Ambassador Manorma P. Soeknandan, PhD., Deputy Secretary General of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), is in Belize for a three day working visit. Ambassador Soeknandan is meeting with officials of the Government of Belize, as well as representatives of the various CARICOM institutions headquartered in Belize.
On Tuesday May 24th, 2016, Dr. Soeknandan accompanied by Craig Beresford, Director of Strategic Management at the CARICOM Secretariat, visited the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) which is headquartered in Belmopan, the Capital of Belize. She met with the staff and the Executive Director, Dr. Kenrick Leslie. Dr. Leslie outlined the progression of the institution to a Centre of Excellence and as the first regional entity, accredited to the Green Climate Fund which will invest in low-emission and climate-resilient development projects in the Caribbean. Soeknandan spoke about the importance of collaboration and a partnership was further strengthened as the CCCCC agreed to share its human resources in regards to highlighting best financial and procurement practices which serve to help adaptation and mitigation projects in the region.
Ambassador Soeknandan told the staff of the 5C’s, “I would like to say on behalf of the CARICOM Secretariat thank you for your input and your support to the organization and the region.”
Countries are now in their second week of negotiations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) presently taking place in Bonn, Germany. Draft conclusions have already been adopted for some items under two of the subsidiary bodies of the Convention, the Subsidiary Body on Implementation (SBI) and the Subsidiary Body on Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA). Under the SBSTA, countries concluded their consideration under the Nairobi Work Programme (NWP) on adaptation, the Technology framework, metrics to calculate the carbon dioxide equivalence of greenhouse gases, emissions from international aviation and shipping, the training programme for review experts, forests in exhaustion, market and non-market mechanisms under the Convention and the Paris Agreement, modalities for accounting of financial resources mobilized for climate change, and the next review of the long term goal until 2018.
CARICOM negotiators are facilitating the consultations on several of the agenda items under the SBI and SBSTA. They include: Ann Gordon of Belize on Research and Systematic Observations, Hugh Sealy of Grenada market and non-market mechanisms under the Paris Agreement, Gerald Lindo of Jamaica on joint implementation, Kishan Kumarsingh of Trinidad and Tobago on Technology, Crispin d’Auvergne of Saint Lucia on capacity building, and Leon Charles of Grenada on the long term review of the global goal. Carlos Fuller, the Liaison Officer of the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre, is the Chair of the SBSTA.
H.E. Ms. Ségolène Royal, Minister of Environment, Energy and the Sea of France and President of COP 21/CMP 11 opened the climate change talks in Bonn on Monday May 16th, 2016. That morning was the first occasion for the climate change negotiators to meet following the successful climate change talks in Paris last year which resulted in the adoption of the Paris Agreement. Last month 175 countries signed the Agreement at the UN Headquarters in New York, eclipsing the previous record for the signing an agreement on the opening day. In addition 5 CARICOM Member States were among the 15 States which also presented their instruments of ratification. The Paris Agreement will come into force when 55 Parties representing 55% of the global greenhouse gas emissions ratify the Agreement.
Two of the subsidiary bodies of the Climate Change Convention, the Subsidiary Body on Implementation (SBI) and the Subsidiary Body on Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) also launched their work . The SBSTA is being chaired by Carlos Fuller, International and Regional Liaison Officer of the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC). These bodies will elaborate the mechanisms established in the Agreement. The Ad Hoc Working Group on the Paris Agreement (APA) is expected to launch its work tomorrow. It is charged to prepare for the entry into force of th Agreement and prepare for the first meeting its governing body.