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Caribbean communities on the front lines of climate change adaptation

Photo Credit: Stuart Claggett

Newly-released analysis from CDKN has identified a series of approaches to help community-level organisations to increase climate resilience. The analysis focusses on the Caribbean, but has widely applicable lessons for community-based adaptation in other parts of the world. Will Bugler and Olivia Palin explain further:

The research acknowledges that the success of adaptation measures is highly dependent on local context, and shows how multi-level governance approaches can deliver locally-appropriate adaptation actions. By using approaches and methods such as network analysis, community-based vulnerability assessments and a ‘local adaptive capacity framework’, the research suggests that communities can improve the efficacy of climate action at the local level. What’s more the analysis also finds that more co-ordinated action at the local level can lead to increased influence on regional and national decision making.

The new analysis draws on outputs from three CDKN-funded projects spanning a decade’s worth of applied research in the Caribbean region. A summary of the findings is presented in a single ‘knowledge package’, comprising a policy brief, an infographic and a short video. This provides an overview of the multi-level governance approach, and illustrative examples of how it has been applied in Caribbean countries including Jamaica and Saint Lucia.

The key messages from the knowledge package are:

  1. Adapting to climate change is, to a large extent, a local process. Effective solutions to climate challenges should be sensitive to local context.
  2. Multi-stakeholder, multi-level governance approaches are increasingly recognised as best practice for local adaptation.
  3. Local networks of stakeholders can be analysed and shaped to maximise their effectiveness for dealing with external shocks like those from climate impacts.
  4. Community-based approaches to understanding local vulnerability and adaptive capacity can provide useful insight for climate resilience building.
  5. Such approaches also stimulate conversation at the local level, raising awareness and understanding of climate change.
  6. Local level approaches are not effective in isolation, and require good links with regional and national government to maximise their impact.
  7. CDKN funded research offers tools and methods for analysing networks, assessing vulnerability and scaling up local action.

The package consists of an information brief, video and infographic. To access these and to find out more about the research on which they were based visit: www.cdkn.org/caribbean.

Credit: Climate & Development Knowledge Network (CDKN)

CCCCC Supports Jamaica in Climate Change Dialogue

Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Daryl Vaz (centre), displays a signed copy of the Instrument of Ratification of the Paris Agreement on climate change during a seminar at the Terra Nova All-Suite Hotel in St Andrew on April 11. Others sharing the moment (from left) are Deputy Resident Representative, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Elsie Laurence Chounoune; and Principal Director, Climate Change Division, Una-May Gordon. The Paris Agreement, which was adopted at the Climate Change Summit in Paris in December 2015, signals the commitment of the international community to combat climate change and its wide-ranging effects. (Photo: JIS)

The Climate Change Division of the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation of Jamaica is undertaking a public outreach entitled “Uncut Conversations on Climate Change: Dialogue for the Future” at the Terra Nova Hotel in Kingston, Jamaica from 11 to 13 April 2017. The Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) has been invited to participate in the event. Carlos Fuller, International and Regional Liaison Officer, was the lead conversationalist on the opening day on the theme “Come on People, COP is the Conference of the Parties”. He explained the international climate change negotiation process under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The Executive Director of the CCCCC, Dr Kenrick Leslie, will participate on Day 2 of the event as the lead conversationalist for “What did Small Island Developing States Give Up or Gain by Signing and Ratifying the Paris Agreement”.

In his opening address, the Honourable Daryl Vaz announced that the Government of Jamaica had ratified the Paris Agreement. This was greeted with applause by the audience which consisted on students and representatives of the media, government agencies, the private sector and the NGO community. Among the subjects being covered in the Conversations are: the Paris Agreement, adaption, mitigation, capacity building, finance, and technology.

Minister Vaz urged everyone to become advocates for ‘Mother Earth’ and work hard to preserve and protect her for the next generation. He urged Jamaicans to take proactive steps such as practising proper disposal of garbage, carpooling to reduce the carbon footprint, and conserving and recycling water, as well as incorporating climate-smart agriculture, to adapt to and mitigate the impacts of climate change.

“In all we do, we need to enable and empower the poorest and most vulnerable among us, including our women and children, to adapt to and cope with some of the intense and often devastating weather conditions associated with climate change,” he said.

The private sector and the NGO community also lead conversations. The event will culminate with the measures Jamaica is undertaking to respond to climate change.

The National Water Commission, Forestry Department, National Environment and Planning Agency, Adaptation Programme and Financing Mechanism, Meteorological Services Division, Rural Agricultural Development Authority and the Climate Change Division mounted exhibits at the event.

Caribbean communities take on climate change

Children playing in the water at sunset in the harbour of St. George’s, Grenada, November 27, 2016. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

When powerful storms tear through the islands of the Caribbean, it’s often fishing families and famers in coastal villages who bear the brunt of flooding and damage – and it’s those same people who can help lead climate change adaptation, say experts.

Across the region, decision makers are realising a top-down approach isn’t always the way forward, and often those who live and work in high-risk areas – whether they grow coffee, run small businesses or work as tour guides – best understand the particular issues they face, and have ideas about how to tackle them.

Those local insights can positively shape policy at a national level in the climate-vulnerable tropical island nations, a discussion hosted by the Climate and Development Knowledge Network (CDKN) heard this week.

“It’s saying ‘this is a two-way street, a two-way conversation’,” said Will Bugler, a senior consultant at Acclimatise, who gave a rundown of Caribbean climate change adaptation tools and research.

But local efforts alone are not enough, and communities need strong links with regional and national governments so they can draw on their expertise, influence and spending power.

The problem is that linking up groups with different levels of understanding – and sometimes competing interests – can make hammering out climate resilience strategies a long and frustrating process, according to a report published by CDKN.

Today, a raft of sophisticated new technologies harnessing high-quality data on climate and weather patterns are being used to develop community vulnerability assessments and help companies, governments and development banks inject climate change resilience into their plans.

Sharon Lindo, policy advisor at the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC), said Grenada was one country now consulting CCORAL, an online tool highlighting climate change vulnerabilities, before making policy decisions. Some regional banks are using it as part of their risk assessment processes, she added.

“What that showed us was that just a small incremental cost makes the investment climate-resilient,” Lindo told the webinar.

DATA GAPS

While these tools can be used to track multiple scenarios – such as the chance of storm damage, drought or even dengue outbreaks – there are still gaps in the data, as some of the tiny islands scattered across the Caribbean lack comprehensive monitoring.

A planned project to install additional monitoring stations could start to fill in the picture, said Dr. Ulric Trotz, CCCCC’s Deputy Director and Science Advisor, who highlighted the need for well-documented environmental data to go with meteorological information.

“If we want to really target agriculture… and watershed management appropriately, we need to also have stations within areas on these smaller islands to really capture that data that can feed into the model and give a more robust analysis,” said Trotz.

And in climate-vulnerable countries, it seems you’re never too young to learn about the impact climate change may have on your future. A pilot project in Belize is trying to integrate climate change into the curriculum for schoolchildren, said Trotz.

“Individual countries could start initiatives in schools. We’re particularly keen on … introducing a system of school gardening right across the region,” he said.

With this, students could find out about new techniques like drip irrigation, greenhouse cultivation and aquaponics, he added.

Credit: Thomas Reuters Foundation News

Dr. Marianne Karlsson shares research on climate change adaptation efforts of two fisher communities

Dr. Marianne Karlsson, Senior Researcher, Nordland Research Institute

The Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) and the University of the West Indies (UWI) Open Campus in Belize hosted a presentation by Dr. Marianne Karlsson on the results of her PhD thesis “Changing seascapes: local adaptation processes in Belizean fishing communities”, yesterday, March 30.

Belize’s wider vulnerability to climate change constitutes the context for the thesis as adaptation to climate change is considered to be urgent. More specifically, Dr. Karlsson’s research has studied how the coastal communities of Sarteneja and Monkey River perceive and respond to observed environmental changes. Through collaboration with the CCCCC, she visited Belize three times from 2010 to 2012 and stayed for eight months in total. Dr. Karlsson gathered data from interviews, spent time in the villages, participated on two conch fishing trips (one to South Water Caye and one to Glovers Reef) and literature studies.

Photo Credit: Repeating Islands

The thesis analyses what factors have influenced livelihood changes in a historical perspective in Sarteneja and Monkey River, what social consequence coastal erosion has had in Monkey River and how Sartenejan fishermen respond to climatic and non-climatic stressors. The results highlight the role of history and politics, local values and agency in shaping responses to environmental changes such as hurricanes and coastal erosion. Local attachment to the villages and the wish to safeguard or enhance what is seen as a good way of life in these places are central motivations to why people adapt to change. The thesis argues that it is important to consider current strategies to deal with change, local wishes for development and to enable local groups to have a greater say in decisions that affect their lives and livelihoods when considering future climate change adaptation.

The PhD thesis was successfully defended at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences in September 2015. Dr. Karlsson now works as a researcher at a regional institute in Northern Norway, Nordland Research Institute.

Peruse Marianne Karlsson PhD thesis

Dr. Karlsson has also written four additional papers that can be viewed here.

POLICY BRIEF: Climate data and projections: Supporting evidence-based decision-making in the Caribbean

Photo Credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Download POLICY BRIEF: Climate data and projections: Supporting evidence-based decision-making in the Caribbean
No. of pages: 12
Author(s): Will Bugler, Olivia Palin and Dr Ben Rabb
Organisation(s): Acclimatise 
Format: pdf
File size: 620.51 KB

Governments in the Caribbean recognise climate variability and change to be the most significant threat to sustainable development in the region. Policies and strategies such as the regional framework for achieving development resilient to climate change and its implementation plan acknowledge the scale of the threat and provide a plan that aspires to safeguard regional prosperity and meet development goals. To do this, decision-makers need effective tools and methods to help integrate climate change considerations into their planning and investment processes. To build resilience, decision-makers can benefit from access to appropriate climate change data that are specific to their geographical location and relevant to their planning horizons.

The CARibbean Weather Impacts Group (CARIWIG) project, funded by the Climate and Development Knowledge Network (CDKN), gives access to climate data that have been downscaled, making them relevant for use in the Caribbean region. The project also provides tools that allow decision-makers to better understand the potential impacts of drought, tropical storms, rainfall and temperature changes. Caribbean decision-makers, researchers and scientists can access this data freely, through the CARIWIG website.

While these data are a useful aid for decision-making, they do not provide certainty about the scale or timing of climate impacts. The process of downscaling data makes them relevant to decisions taken at the national level in the Caribbean, but also increases the uncertainty. The data should therefore be used to inform decisions, but should not form the sole basis for action. Instead, decisions-makers should aspire to take adaptation measures that perform well over a wide range of conditions.

This policy brief provides an overview of CARIWIG data and information and how they can be used, pointing to illustrative examples of how they have been applied in several Caribbean countries. It also provides decision-makers with the tools necessary to make effective climate decisions in the face of uncertainty.

Key messages

  • Climate data and projections that are relevant to the Caribbean region are available through the online CARIWIG portal.
  • Historical climate data and future projections are available for a range of climate variables.
  • A suite of simulation tools, including a weather generator, a tropical storm model and a regional drought analysis tool are also freely available.
  • These resources are useful for decision makers. When combined with other data and information, they can help to build a picture of potential impacts to key economic sectors in the Caribbean.
  • A series of case studies shows how these resources have been applied to real-world situations in Caribbean countries.
  • The Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) is providing training and support on how to use CARIWIG outputs.
  • CDKN-funded projects provide methods and tools for decision makers to take proactive action to build climate resilience, despite the uncertainty that comes with future
Credit: Climate & Development Knowledge Network (CDKN)

Office of Climate Change spearheads ‘green’ agenda sessions in Schools-Regions 4, 5, 6 and 10 to benefit in first quarter of 2017

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The Office of Climate Change (OCC), which falls under the purview of the Ministry of the Presidency, in collaboration with the Caribbean Youth Environment Network (CYEN), yesterday, visited three schools in East Berbice-Corentyne (Region Six) to continue its countrywide Climate Change sessions, which are aimed at educating students on the effects of the global phenomenon and Guyana’s pursuit of a ‘green’ agenda.

The team, comprised of staff from the Office of Climate Change and volunteers from the CYEN, delivered 90-minute sessions the All Saints Primary, the New Amsterdam Multilateral and the Manchester Secondary Schools.

During the course of each session, short videos detailing the effects of rising sea levels, importance of water management, the impact of Climate Change on the Caribbean region and Guyana, among other related areas, were shown to the students, after which they were given measures and steps they can take in the home and at school to combat the effects. It was followed by a reinforcement session in which the students were quizzed and given prizes.

Ms. Yasmin Bowman, Communications Specialist at the OCC, in an invited comment, said that the outreach to the region is one in a series of outreaches, which have been planned by Department for the first quarter of 2017. A total of 20 schools were targeted and thus far, 14 have been completed.

“What we have been doing is engaging a lot of the schools in Regions 4, 5, 6 and next week we are going to Region 10. The purpose of this awareness session is exactly what I said, to bring awareness to the students on Climate Change. From the interactions, we have had over the last few weeks, we have noticed that a number of schools and children are not familiar with Climate Change in general or what Climate Change is. Some of them have never even heard about the Office of Climate Change and so we are hoping that once we come to the school, we can bring awareness to the children,” she explained.

Ms. Bowman added that the sessions, however, are also aimed at promoting behaviour change with regard to the treatment of the environment especially at a time when Guyana has embarked on a ‘green’ development plan.

In addition to Primary and Secondary School students, “we would also be engaging nursery level students but their awareness sessions will be done in the form of puppeteering as against the format we used for the Secondary and Primary School children, where we have videos and a reinforcement session and power-point to ensure they grasp as much as possible. What we did not want to do is to use one paint brush to cover everything so we did the awareness in a format where the child could have an appreciation for what is happening,” she said.

Ms. Elon McCurdie, National Coordinator for CYEN, said that the organisation wants to focus primarily on climate change and its impacts and to identify actions that youths can take within the communities, schools and homes so that they can help in the process.

“With them being children now and them taking on actions, whether it is at school or at home, they are now heading into a more sustainable lifestyle so that as they get older, these are things that they can use to help Guyana and themselves,” she said.

Ms. McCurdie is hopeful that the programme can also be taken to the Hinterland regions and not just the Coastland, to ensure that a concerted effort is taken to combat Climate Change and global warming and to raise support for the path, which Guyana has chosen to go.

Meanwhile, Head Master of the All Saints Primary, Mr. Bassant Jagdeo, who sat in the session facilitated at his school, said that the initiative is commendable and must be taken across the country so that behaviour changes can be achieved for the good of the environment and the country as a whole.

“I really appreciate this and not only on my behalf but the entire school population. The kids are the ones that we have to target and the ones who need to become more aware. I know that a lot of the adults are neglectful in their actions and saving our earth but if we can start with the youths, then we are going to have a positive reward in years to come. This is a very great initiative and we should not only target schools but homes too need to be apart. Parents need to be involved because this starts from the home,” he said.

The school has been promoting its own little project in its compound, which sees plants being grown and the students having responsibility to take care of them. Mr. Jagdeo said that this is aimed at inculcating responsibility for the environment in the child so that they can be conscious in their actions.

CDB provides funds for poverty reduction in 8 Caribbean countries

The Barbados-based Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) says it is providing US$40 million in funding for poverty reduction in eight Caribbean through the Basic Needs Trust Fund (BNTF).

It said the resources will support improved access to quality education; water and sanitation; basic community access and drainage; livelihoods enhancement and human resource development services in low-income and vulnerable communities under the ninth phase of BNTF (BNTF 9).

The countries that will benefit from the initiative are Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, and Suriname.

“The participating countries share many common characteristics and face a number of challenges inherent to small, open economies. BNTF 9 will respond to the development needs of these countries, which face challenges associated with limited diversity in production and extreme vulnerability to natural hazards, which is  now exacerbated by climate change and other external shocks,” said Daniel Best, director of projects at the CDB.

Initiatives under BNTF 9 will be implemented during the period March 2017 to December 2020.

The CDB said that the governments of the eight participating countries will provide total counterpart funding of US$6.4 million.

BNTF has implemented more than 2,750 sub-projects over the past 37 years, directly impacting the lives of more than three million beneficiaries in poor communities,” the CDB said, adding that the programme is its main vehicle for tackling poverty in the region, through the provision of basic infrastructure and skills training towards improving the livelihoods of beneficiaries in participating countries.

Credit: Jamaica Observer

Global conference renews call to reduce greenhouse gas

(Photo: AP)

The fifth Regional Platform for disaster risk reduction in the Americas began in Canada today with the United Nations (UN) reiterating a call for the reduction of greenhouse gases that it has labelled “the single most urgent global disaster risk treatment”.

Head of the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, Robert Glasser told a gathering of more than 1,000 delegates from 50 countries, including the Caribbean, that climate change remains inextricably linked to the challenges of disaster risk reduction (DRR).

“We also recognise that reducing greenhouse gas emissions is arguably the single most urgent global disaster risk treatment, because without those efforts our other efforts to reduce many hazards and the risks those pose to communities would be overwhelmed over the longer term,” Glasser said.

“The regional plan of action you will adopt this week will help and guide national and local governments in their efforts to strengthen the links between the 2030 agenda Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk Reduction as national and local DRR strategies are developed and further refined in line with the Sendai Framework priorities over the next four years.”

The March 7-9 conference, hosted by the Canadian government in cooperation with the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR), marks the first opportunity for governments and stakeholders of the Americas to discuss and agree on a Regional Action Plan to support the implementation of the Sendai Framework for DRR 2015-2030.

The Sendai Framework recognises Global and Regional Platforms for DRR as key mediums for its implementation, building on the pivotal role that they have already played in supporting the implementation of the Hyogo Framework for Action 2005 – 2015.

It also underscores the need for the Global Platform and the Regional Platforms to function as a coherent system of mechanisms in order to fully leverage on the potential of collaboration across all stakeholders and sectors to provide guidance and support in its implementation.

The main focus of the conference will be to discuss how governments, ministers, civil society leaders, technical and scientific institutions, private sector, media could drive the implementation and measurement of the expected outcomes of the Sendai Framework in the Americas.

Glasser said the work of adopting and implementing the Sendai Framework is “important for the rapid urbanisation taking place across the region which brings with it new challenges for risk governance and disaster risk management.”

He said Latin America and the Caribbean is the most urbanised region of the world as over 80 per cent of its population live in urban areas and that it could increase to 90 per cent within a few decades.

The conference is being held under the theme “Resilience for All”.

In his welcome remarks, Canada’s Minister for Public Safety Ralph Goodale told the gathering they need to make good use of their time together to move forward on a robust regional action plan that can increase the open exchange of research and technology that can save lives worldwide.

“A plan that is grounded in the Sendai Framework’s guiding principles that can help strengthen and organise, prepare, budget and govern; and how we engage critical partners…and a plan that can let us use our collective influence to increase the number of countries and territories and organizations that do have strategies in place to reduce the risks of disasters.”

Among the topics to be discussed over the next three days include “Understanding the risks in the Americas, Empowerment of women and girls and gender Equality in Disaster Risk Reduction and High Risk Populations as Agents of Change for Disaster Risk Reduction”.

Credit: Jamaica Observer

Cuba Seeks To Revitalize Association Of Caribbean States

CubaCuba is seeking to revitalize Association of Caribbean States (ACS) as ACS’ First Cooperation Conference to be held today, March 8, Cuba’s foreign ministry announced on Tuesday.

At a press conference, Carlos Zamora, director of Latin America and the Caribbean of the Cuban Foreign Ministry, said this meeting seeks to evaluate the state of implementation of the cooperation programs developed within the ACS.

Furthermore, Caribbean nations will discuss air and maritime connectivity and the ACS agenda for tackling climate change.

“Within the process of revitalizing the association, we have been looking at how to strengthen the issue of cooperation, both internal and external, in order for the ACS to play a vital role in the economic development of the Caribbean. This conference is aimed at that,” explained Zamora.

Cuba took over the presidency of the ACS in January 2016 and for more than a year has presented projects to strengthen its cooperation system, confronting the effects of climate change and natural disasters, as well as solidarity initiatives with Haiti.

In addition, the 22nd Ordinary Meeting of the ACS Council of Ministers will be held on March 10 in Havana.

“A few governments have changed in the region, as well as economic and political circumstances have been transformed, and of course this council of ministers will be in the midst of those circumstances,” said the high official.

The event will have a wide participation of the 25 foreign ministers of the member states and eight associates, as well as special organizations that have accompanied the ACS since its creation in July 1994 in Cartagena de Indias, Colombia.

Credit: Curacao Chronicle

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)
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