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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)

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)

National government is at the heart of climate change action in the Caribbean

New analysis of over a decade’s-worth of research on climate change in the Caribbean, suggests that national governments are important drivers of co-ordinated climate change action in the region. The research acknowledges the importance of ‘bottom-up’, community level approaches, but found that in isolation they are insufficient to meet the complex challenges posed by climate change. Delivering coordinated climate change action at the regional, national and local level, therefore was shown to require government to actively intervene to drive the process. To that extent, the research suggests that climate change adaptation is a question of governance.

The findings come from a newly-released ‘knowledge package’ that draws on research from projects that have been conducted in the Caribbean over the past 10 years. Funded by the Climate and Development Knowledge Network (CDKN), these projects produced many research papers, case studies, and decision-support tools, which have progressed thinking and action on climate change in the region.

For the first time, the outputs of a cross section of these projects have been systematically analysed and organised to identify cross-cutting lessons. This, the first of four planned knowledge packages, focuses on the role of national government in the resilience building process.

As well as providing new insight, the package acts as a gateway to CDKN-funded climate research into national governments’ role in building climate resilience. Research from across three projects has been compiled and can be accessed through the CDKN website by visiting: www.cdkn.org/caribbean.

The work identifies best practice lessons on governance, highlights examples from applied case studies in Caribbean countries, and recommends tools and methods that can be applied to make governance frameworks more effective at delivering climate compatible development.

This knowledge package shows that national governance frameworks must foster community action, but also provide the enabling environment for large investments, and transformative change at scale. The challenge national governments face is to coordinate adaptation interventions at both national and local levels by engaging multiple organisations and individuals.

Key findings from the research include:

  1. Policy and governance arrangements at the national level are vital for climate adaptation. Local action is important but is insufficient in isolation.
  2. National governments provide strategic oversight, access to climate finance and have the capacity and authority to drive climate action.
  3. Climate change considerations should be integrated into policies and plans across government departments. The CCORAL tool allows decision-makers to do just that.
  4. Institutional arrangements are vital to help translate government policy into action. Governments can use the ARIA tool to assess their institutional adaptive capacity as a first step to strengthening these frameworks.
  5. Government institutions are vital to stimulate action at the local level. Networked governance arrangements can help to build movements for climate resilience that help translate national priorities into local action and integrate local needs into national policy.

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: http://bit.ly/2moK7qn

Policy brief: Driving, connecting and communicating: The many roles of national government in climate adaptation planning

Video: National governance and climate change in the Caribbean

Infographic: CDKN funded research in the Caribbean shows that national policy and institutions are vital for climate adaptation

Caribbean and International Water and Funding Agencies Meet on a New Caribbean Climate-Proofing Water Investment Initiative

Over thirty (30) representatives from key regional and international water and finance institutions will meet in Barbados on April 9th and 10th, 2015 to help steer a new Caribbean Climate-Proofing Water Investment initiative spearheaded by the Global Water Partnership-Caribbean (GWP-C) under its Water, Climate and Development Programme (WACDEP) executed in collaboration with the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC).

The two-day Consultation will provide the stakeholders with a thorough overview of the new initiative which includes the development of a Regional Caribbean Climate Resilience and Water Security Investment Plan (CReWSIP). This plan is aimed at providing a coordinated and programmatic approach to identifying, prioritising and sourcing finance for the work of regional agencies in enhancing the climate resilience of the Caribbean water sector.

The upcoming Stakeholder Consultation is a crucial step in the process to ensure that the CReWSIP responds to regional needs and will help regional institutions deliver their respective roles and mandates as they relate to water security. It provides the opportunity for regional institutions to elaborate on how the Investment Plan can support their work and to guide the process in the right direction. Additionally, it will allow development partners to define how CReWSIP could be used as a vehicle to channel resources into regional water security issues.

According to Dr. Natalie Boodram, Programme Manager of the GWP-C WACDEP, “Collaboration and coordination between regional stakeholders is essential for the Caribbean Climate Resilience and Water Security Investment Plan to deliver benefits on the ground.”

The Caribbean Climate-Proofing Water Investment Initiative is being funded by the Climate and Development Knowledge Network (CDKN) and while GWP-C and the CCCCC are coordinating the development of the CCReWSIP, the resulting programmes and projects are anticipated to be implemented through regional institutions, with the support of development partners.

Some of the organisations that will be represented at the upcoming Meeting in Barbados include: the GWP-C, the CCCCC, the CDKN, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat, the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the European Union (EU), the Department for International Development (DFID), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Caribbean Water and Wastewater Association (CWWA), the Caribbean Water and Sewerage Association (CAWASA), the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI) and other agencies.Download media release here.

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

Climate-Proofing Water Investment in the Caribbean

The Global Water Partnership-Caribbean (GWP-C) has embarked on a new initiative under its Water, Climate and Development Programme (WACDEP) called “Climate-Proofing Water Investment in the Caribbean” which is being executed in partnership with the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC).

The initiative includes the development of a Caribbean Climate Resilience and Water Security Investment Plan (CCReWSIP) which aims to provide a coordinated and programmatic approach to identifying, prioritising and sourcing finance for actions to enhance the climate resilience of the Caribbean through improved water resources management.

The project is being funded by the Climate and Development Knowledge Network (CDKN) and falls within one of the key components of the GWP-C WACDEP which recognises the need to prioritise water investments which perform well under a full range of climate scenarios.

Also crucial to the GWP-C WACDEP is its emphasis on no/low regret investment options given climate uncertainties. Once completed, the implementation of the actions in the Investment Plan and its periodic revision will be an ongoing process supported by GWP-C and the CCCCC.

Get more details on the initiative by downloading a Stakeholder Briefing Note here. Also, we encourage you to share your feedback and comments with GWP-C at knowledgeplatform@gwp-caribbean.org.

Credit: Global Water Partnership – Caribbean

Forging a climate resilient development pathway in the Caribbean

Dr. TrotzDr Ulric Trotz, Deputy Director and Science Advisor at the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre, and a senior strategic advisor to Climate and Development Knowledge Network (CDKN), outlines the tremendous opportunities for climate compatible development in the region in a featured Op-Ed published by CDKN Global.

The Small Island Developing States (SIDS) of the Caribbean have made significant strides in responding to a changing and variable climate. However, the dissonance between climate change time horizons and immediate development needs and priorities as articulated by public policy-makers pose a primary challenge to the region’s efforts to achieve low emissions, build resilience and promote development simultaneously. Specifically, climate change projections are often expressed in timeframes ( 5 years, 50 years, 100 years) that have little or no relation to the routine development planning timeframes (5 years, 10 years, 30 years) used by the public policy-makers and the expectations of the general public.

This challenge exists alongside the peculiarities associated with multi-country policy-making, hazards of our small size, geography, and limited resources that often impedes ambitious and decisive action. Given this mix of challenges, it’s crucial that the region frames climate change responses such that they’re viewed as urgent and integral for development imperatives such as poverty reduction, debt-servicing, and growth.

The efficacy of this approach is typified by Prime Minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Dr Ralph Gonsalves’ strong commitment to make climate change a priority during his chairmanship of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) immediately after the unprecedented weather event that ravaged the Eastern Caribbean in December 2013. In declaring climate change as a key focus of his six month chairmanship of the regional block, Dr Gonsalves noted “we are having systems affecting us outside of the normal rainy season and the normal hurricane season,” which underscores the importance of showing the link between existing weather events and climate projections across time-horizons. Dr Gonsalves’s realisation of this link will allow him to bring a sense of urgency to the XXV Intersessional Meeting of the Heads of Government where climate change will feature prominently in the discussions.

In our quest to forge a climate resilient development pathway, the Caribbean has been tackling the primary challenge of aligning the comparatively distant time horizons of climate projections with more immediate development objectives and political considerations in a multi-country policy-making context. The Heads of Government of CARICOM endorsed the Liliendaal Declaration on Climate Change and Development in 2009, which defines the positions of Member States, and approved “A Regional Framework for Achieving Development Resilient to Climate Change”. The Regional Framework and its associated Implementation Plan (approved in March 2012), both of which were prepared by the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre with support from CDKN, specifies actions and timeframes that complements some of the political time horizons and specific development objectives.

The development of the Caribbean Climate Risk Management Framework and its associated Caribbean Climate Online Risk Assessment TooL (CCORAL) is a direct response to one of the actions defined in the Regional Framework. Climate risk management tools like CCORAL with cross-sectorial applicability are crucial elements of the region’s emerging strong early action framework for building climate resilience and advancing our development objectives.

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