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Today, Friday, 21 March 2014, marks the 20th anniversary of the entry into force of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. As we celebrate the landmark Convention and the investment in its implementation over the last two decades, Caribbean Climate, the region’s premier climate change focused blog, asked Carlos Fuller, a long-standing Caribbean negotiator who now functions as the International and Regional Liaison Officer at the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre, to reflect on this milestone. His comments are featured below.
Having been involved in the climate change negotiation process since its inception, I look back at the past 20 years with mixed emotions. I have witnessed first-hand the assimilation of vague ideas on the elements of a climate change agreement which were crafted into a Convention with perhaps too rigid elements that have hindered the actions required to reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases instead of facilitating a process which would have produced the change in productive and consumption patterns to address the causes of climate change. Nevertheless, a series of decisions including the development and adoption of the Kyoto Protocol provided the impetus for a small group of countries to reduce their emissions and have raised the awareness among a significant segment of the population that the world must take action to cope with a changing climate.
The Caribbean has certainly benefited from the process. All CARICOM States are now aware of the threat climate change poses to the region. Institutional processes have been established in the region in response to the threat including the establishment of the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre which is mandated to coordinate the region’s response to climate change, the development of a Master of Science programme in climate change in CEREMES at the Cave Hill Campus of the University of the West Indies and the creation of the Climate Change Impacts Group at the Moina Campus of UWI among others. The region has attracted over US$100 million in funding to enhance its capacity to address climate change, to assess the impacts of climate change on the region, to asses the region’s vulnerability and to undertake action to reduce that vulnerability. Unfortunately, the region has emulated the example of the international community and has not undertaken the transformational changes that will make the region resilient to climate change.
The region and the international community have another chance to get it right. The global community has embarked on a process to develop a new climate change agreement which should be finalized in Paris in December 2015 and which will come into effect in 2020. That agreement must stimulate all countries to contribute to an international effort to drastically reduce emissions of greenhouse gases and provide the financial and technical support to adapt to the impacts of climate change. The next two years will be especially crucial as the international community seeks to craft a global agreement that involves all actors (developed, developing, LDC’s etc.) in a massive effort to keep global temperature increase below the 2 deg. C mark and for the capitalisation of the Green Climate Fund at a level that ensures adequate resources are available to allow significant implementation of Adaptation measures in CARICOM and other developing countries.
The Centre for Resource Management and Environmental Studies (CERMES) in partnership with the UWI Open Campus recently announced the pilot offering of the Certificate of Achievement in Climate Change.
The pilot offering of the Certificate of Achievement will include four CERMES short courses in Climate. This CERMES/Open Campus partnership is aimed at the general public, business people and anyone who wishes to know more about climate change and how it might affect them.
The certificate programme is designed to give participants an integrated summary of climate change to examine its implications for their lives and the world, with the hope that they can contribute to the design and implementation of adaption measures.
The Climate Change initiative targets:
Public and private sector businesses involved in tourism, agriculture, construction, etc.;
- Teachers and other educators interested in expanding their knowledge of Climate Change;
- Other individuals interested in career advancement within the public and private sector;
- Civic leaders with an interest in how climate change impacts their community.
The Climate Change programme will be delivered online and covers the following areas:
Basic Concepts and Issues in Nature and Conservation
- Introduction to Climate Change
- Climate Change Policy
- Sector Responses to Climate Change
The August 2013 pilot offer of the Climate Change programme costs US$500, inclusive of all four courses. The regular offer of the programme scheduled for January 2014 will cost US$1,000.
The programme is scheduled to start in August of the academic year 2012/2013. Applicants seeking more information about entry into the programme should log onto the Open Campus Website at www.open.uwi.edu and follow the on-screen instructions to complete the application form,
A group of students, faculty and support staff from the Centre for Resource Management and Environmental Studies (CERMES), which is located at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus in Barbados, arrived in Belize yesterday (April 7 through to April 16) for an extensive field laboratory.
This marks the ninth year that the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre is funding a contingent of CERMES students and faculty to visit Belize, one of the region’s most diverse ecological settings, to put into action the range of tools they are learning, and observe the relationships between scientific theory and the measurement of critical variables and parameters.
The 13 students who hail from across the region were drawn from graduate studies in both climate change and water resources management. Dr. Leonard Nurse, Chairman of the Centre’s Board of Directors and coordinator of the climate change graduate programme, says the students will visit three sites in mixed groups and three according to their area of specialization. Dr. Nurse notes that the inter-disciplinary cohorts mirror the need for and will enable strong team ethic, cross-disciplinary competence and investigative skills.
His colleague Dr. Adrian Cashman, who coordinates the water resources management graduate programme, says the field laboratory is crucial. He notes that it has evolved over the years from being largely observational to an intensive field work exercise that is exposing the students to things rarely taught in the classroom, including critical soft skills such as communication and planning, while enabling a better appreciation for the myriad of possible sources of error and difficulties associated with field work. He says assignments based on the trip will account for a quarter of their respective course grades, adding that in the medium to long-term, there should be a separate field laboratory that spans a longer period and constituting an independent course.
Dr. Nurse agrees, noting that the programme’s value is lasting. He says since its inception, CERMES students have compiled nearly a decade of beach profile data showing the rapid rate of erosion at Monkey River, a site they will visit again. He says the students are also slated to investigate the carbon sequestration capacity of forest in the Ya’axche Golden Stream Reserve and visit the Blue Creek rice field site to examine the potential for greenhouse emissions from rice paddy fields. Dr. Cashman added that the water resources group will work on ground water issues in Orange Walk and Corozal to locate wells, with the intention of using GPS to measure the depth to water table. The students will then begin to build ground water maps, which will prove especially useful for planning purposes.
Bookmark this page for daily updates of activities carried out by the CERMES contingent. What to expect? Pictures, short videos and summaries of their beach and offshore profiling in the Monkey River Village area, carbon sequestration measurements in the Ya’axche Golden Stream Reserve, flow gauging and water quality sampling in upper Bladen River, visits to rice fields in Blue Creek and Altun Ha Maya and much more.