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CDB approves US$306 million in loans, grants in 2016

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CDB President, Dr William Warren Smith

In 2016, the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) approved US$306 million in loans and grants, the highest approval total during the past five years. And of the countries for which funding was approved, Belize, Saint Lucia and Suriname were the three largest beneficiaries of loans.

Dr William Warren Smith, CDB president, made this announcement during the bank’s annual news conference on Friday, February 17, in Barbados.

Smith pointed out that, in addition to the grants approved in 2016, the Bank began implementing the United Kingdom Caribbean Infrastructure Partnership Fund (UK CIF). UK CIF is a £300 million grant programme for transformational infrastructure projects in eight Caribbean countries and one British overseas territory, which CDB administers. £16.4 million in grants was approved for projects and technical assistance in Antigua and Barbuda, Belize, Dominica and Grenada.

“We reached noteworthy milestones in deepening our strategic partnerships and successfully mobilising financial resources that our BMCs can use to craft appropriate responses to their development challenges,” said Smith, noting that UK CIF was among the bank’s partnership highlights in 2016.

Last year, the bank also signed a credit facility agreement with Agence Française de Développement. It included a US$33 million loan to support sustainable infrastructure projects and a EUR3 million grant to fund feasibility studies for projects eligible for financing under the credit facility.

Also in 2016, CDB entered an arrangement with the government of Canada for the establishment and administration of a CA$5 million fund to build capacity in the energy sector, the Canadian Support to the Energy Sector in the Caribbean Fund.

These recent partnerships are part of the bank’s drive to raise appropriately-priced resources mainly for financing projects with a strong focus on climate adaptation, renewable energy and energy efficiency.

During his statement, Smith highlighted that the bank became an accredited partner institution of both the Adaptation Fund and the Green Climate Fund in 2016.

“The Adaptation Fund and the Green Climate Fund have opened new gateways to much-needed grant and or low-cost financing to address climate change vulnerabilities in all of our BMCs,” Smith told the media.

The president also confirmed that, in 2016, CDB completed negotiations for the replenishment of the Special Development Fund (SDF), the bank’s largest pool of concessionary funds. Contributors agreed to an overall programme of US$355 million for the period 2017-2020, and lowered the SDF interest rate from a range of 2 to 2.5 percent to 1 percent. The programme approved includes US$45 million for Haiti and US$40 million for the Basic Needs Trust Fund. This marked the ninth replenishment of the SDF, which helps meet the Caribbean region’s high-priority development needs.

In his statement, Smith also reaffirmed the bank’s commitment to drive sustained and inclusive income growth, complemented by improvements in living standards in its BMCs. This, he said, was critical, as economic growth across the region remains uneven, with fragile recovery expected to continue into 2017.

“At the core of our operations is the desire to better the lives of Caribbean people. That is the context within which we help to design, appraise and evaluate every project we finance,” Smith said.

Credit: Caribbean News Now!

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 

The UK to launch Caribbean infrastructure partnership

Source: livemint

Source: livemint

 The English speaking Caribbean is set to benefit from 300 million pounds in grant funding to support infrastructure development.

British Prime Minister David Cameron made the announcement in a joint sitting of Jamaica’s parliament on September 30, 2015.

“I’m launching a new UK, Caribbean infrastructure partnership to build real tangible things that will make a difference for people across the Caribbean. Roads, bridges, ports, critical economic infrastructure that will set the foundations for growth and prosperity and in turn reduce poverty while helping the region to become more resilient to the risks of Climate Change. Just think about what this could deliver, hundreds of kilometer of roads to link up vital markets. Bridges to unite remote communities. New energy projects to power growth and vital defenses to protect coastal communities. Let me be clear £300 million is not soft loads, not tide aid. It is cash grants.”

Cameron says Caribbean leaders will decide how to spend the funds. He also announced an additional 60 million pounds in financing.

“Today I can also announce 30 million pounds for new programs to help attract investments and improve governance and 30 million pounds to help make your hospital more resilient to natural disasters. We need to make sure that if a hurricane strikes, crucial health centers can remain operational to treat the wounded and together this represents a quadrupling of Britain support. It will make us the largest donor to the region. It will create jobs and save lives and you can take it literally as a concrete statement of my commitment to the Caribbean.”

The British Prime Minister adds he hopes the Caribbean will make use of US 9 billion in climate adaptation financing that the UK will provide over the next five years.

“We hope this money can help unlock the global climate deal and giving the vulnerability of small island state that face the risk of devastation from climate change, a fair proportion should be sent, I hope will be spent right here supporting some of the UK’s oldest friends to prepare and provide for the future. When I met Caribbean leaders just a few days ago at the United Nations General Assembly. They made it clear to me directly, just how vital the climate deal is to them. So I pledge to work in partnership with them and other like minded states to secure a bold and ambitious deal in Paris later this year.”

Cameron also revealed that the UK will spend £25 million on building a prison in Jamaica so that foreign criminals in the UK can be sent home to serve sentences in the Caribbean.

More than 600 Jamaican nationals are in UK jails but cannot be deported because of Jamaica’s poor prison conditions.

Officials say the foreign aid-funded deal could save taxpayers £10m a year when transfers begin in 2020.

Credit: The Daily Observer

Environmental Psychologist: Uncertainty Drives Inaction on Climate Adaptation

Environmental Psychologist and Geographer Dr. Stefanie Baasch says uncertainties about climate change impacts, especially at the local and regional level, could drive inaction. Read more in her exclusive contribution to Caribbean Climate.

Adaptation to climate change is a new and challenging task on the political agendas. Developing strategies and measures for

Environmental Psychologist and Geographer Dr. Stefanie Baasch

Environmental Psychologist and Geographer Dr. Stefanie Baasch

adaptation are not easy to find because adaptation takes place under conditions of uncertainty, complexity and dynamic developments. On the scientific level there are still deep uncertainties in predicting climate change impacts especially at the local and regional scale.

Also, climate change impacts may interact with each other and may furthermore have a greater adverse effect when acting together compared to when they’re acting in isolation. But even if this data would be available in the future, adaptation still remains challenging because of its high complexity and its dependence on dynamic and interacting societal and natural framework conditions. For example, adaptation capacities are highly dependent on economic and demographic developments.

Simultaneously, adaptation is closely linked to local adaptation needs which are based on locally diverse vulnerabilities. This means that adaptation not only calls for strategies which are focusing on changing natural conditions, but also for integrative strategies that takes both societal and natural conditions into account. Adaptation to climate change is a cross cutting issue that interacts with and influences many policy fields, including nature protection, biodiversity and societal development.

From a psychological perspective, dealing with uncertainties is difficult because people in general feel much more comfortable in decision-making based on certainties, as such uncertainty could lead to justifying inaction. Therefore, dealing with these uncertainties is a crucial task for adaptation to climate change. This includes methodological developments and implementation of flexible approaches which enables stakeholders and decision makers to find solutions and strategies towards adaptation.

Effective and efficient adaptation is calling for governance approaches that involves both public and private actors in the process. The integration of regional and local knowledge and the high local responsibility for supporting and implementing adaptation measures  will foster cooperation needs between a variety of actors. Adaptation to climate change is a policy challenge which consists of balancing multi scale, short- mid- and long-term and conflict-ridden (e.g. water and land use) factors.

In general, adaptation is much more a continuous social learning process in which a wide range of actors (policy makers, sectoral stakeholders, citizens, NGOs, researchers etc.) define options for adaptation and negotiate their priorities. That means, adaptation needs methods which are addressing or enabling such social learning processes between diverse actors and therefore have to be participatory and inclusive.

Dr. Baasch is a senior researcher at the Helmholtz-Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ), Department of Environmental Politics currently conducting research in Belize on how NGOs and other key actors, including community based organizations integrate adaptation to climate change in their programs, as well as  how they are producing and integrating different kinds of knowledge about local adaptation needs. This study is supported by a travel grant from the Fritz Thyssen Foundation in Germany. 

Tell us what you think of Dr. Baasch’s commentary in the comment box below. To contribute to Caribbean Climate email: Tyrone Hall at thall@caribbeanclimate.bz.

5Cs’ Donneil Cain Delivers STEM Talk

Credit: Sagicor Visionaries Challenge

Credit: Sagicor Visionaries Challenge

Donneil Cain, Resource Economist at the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (5Cs), delivered a well-received Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics (STEM) Talk on behalf of Executive Director Dr. Kenrick Leslie, CBE at this week’s staging of the Belize-leg of the Sagicor Visionaries Challenge (SVC).

The Challenge is a partnership between the Caribbean Science Foundation (CSF), Sagicor and the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) that seeks to encourage secondary school students across the region to identify challenges facing their respective schools or communities and develop effective, innovative and sustainable STEM-based solutions.

Bishop Martin High won the contest outpacing 21 other teams from 16 schools. Their project dubbed ‘Coconuts for Life’ is a 20 year multi-pronged plan that includes growing a coconut orchard and creating an ecological park on the school grounds. Yorker Ecological Educational Park for Belizean Biodiversity by Edward P. Yorke High School placed second. Peruse these and other projects here.

Mr. Cain challenged  the students to go beyond the competition and become pioneers in their respective fields. “I beg you to dream big and no matter how old you get, continue to dream big. Beyond dreaming, think critically and be creative. Look around you for issues that must be solved and in doing so you will aid your communities to become sustainable.” In other words, “it is your duty to help chart the way for the efficient uses of our limited resources to meet our needs, while preserving our natural environment,” said Mr. Cain.

He urged educators to do more to enable the region’s young people to unlock their inventive and critical thinking skills to thrive. He also called for new approaches ‘to harness the talents and the ingeniousness of our youths […] and encourage critical, logical and creative thinking.”

Mr. Cain encouraged the budding innovators to consider STEM career options. He cited computer science , chemistry, civil engineering, mathematics, astrophysics, information science, robotics, statistics, architecture, bio-chemistry, electronics as some examples.

Bishop Martin High with their winning project "Coconut 4 Life".

Bishop Martin High with their winning project “Coconuts 4 Life”.

Four of the Challenge’s eleven judges are members of the 5Cs team: Ottis Joslyn, Earl Green, Tyrone Hall and Sharon Lindo. Here are some examples of how we have used STEM  in  climate change adaptation efforts:

  1. Retrofitting a Community Centre – St. Lucia
  2. Climate Modeling – Regional
  3. CO2 Measurement – Regional and Global
  4. Desalination (SWRO plants) – St. Lucia, Grenada, Caye Caulker
  5. Renewable Energy – Bio-Mass, Solar, Hydro, Wind – Regional
  6. Econometric Modeling – Regional
  7. Hazard mapping – Regional

Learn more about the Sagicor Visionaries Challenge. See how we’re working to make the Caribbean more climate resilient by perusing The Implementation Plan for “Delivering transformational change 2011-21″.

UPDATE: Bishop Martin High School won the top prize in the regional science and technology competition, beating 11 other schools to claim a prize of US$5, 000. Second place went to Jamaica’s Wolmer’s Boys School for their project ‘Electro-light, Making Your Electricity Bill Lighter’.  They won US$3 000, while third was Naparima Girls College in Trinidad and Tobago, whose project ‘So What Is The Farmer In Your Neighbourhood’ gained them US$1 000.

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