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ACS and CCCCC discuss collaboration

(L-R) Keith Nichols, Project Development Specialist, CCCCC; Alexander Girvan, Caribbean Sea Commission Coordinator; Tricia Barrow, Political Advisor; Dr. Kenrick Leslie, Executive Director, CCCCC; Dr. June Soomer, Secretary General, ACS; Dr. Donneil Cain, Project Development Specialist, CCCCC; Vincent Peter, Project Development Specialist, CCCCC; Carlos Fuller, International and Regional Liaison Officer, CCCCC.

Belmopan, BELIZE: May 31, 2017 – Dr. Kenrick Leslie, Executive Director of the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) and Dr. June Soomer, Secretary General of the Association of Caribbean States (ACS) discussed collaborations on a range of issues when they met at the Centre’s office here on Monday, May 29, 2017.

Dr. Soomer, and her team paid a courtesy call on Dr. Leslie and his team, and took the opportunity to discuss areas of future cooperation and dialogue. In reviewing the scope of work and responsibilities of both organisations, both Drs. Leslie and Soomer agreed that the region could benefit if both organisations coordinate for the advancement of areas such as eco-systems based management, the development of scientific tools and data to aid climate change adaptation measures and on programmes that would help regional leaders to make more informed decisions.

Dr Soomer pointed to the organisation’s recent signing of a US$4 million grant from South Korea to assess and control the impact of coastal erosion and sea level rise in some member states. The grant is being used to do work in countries like Jamaica where CCCCC is also doing coastal protection work with KfW, the German Development Bank.

Other areas identified for parallel coordination efforts include fisheries, communication, disaster risk response and climate financing.  Pointing to the Centre’s recent accreditation by the Greed Climate Fund (GCF), Dr. Leslie said:

“The Centre along with the Caribbean Development Bank are now able to access financing to help the countries of the region prepare for the effects of climate change”.

The Centres’ work, Dr. Soomer told the meeting, aligns itself to the ACS’ goal to take the achievements of the region to the rest of the world. Caribbean also has a lot to teach the world, she said, noting that in the case of small organisations like the CCCCC and ACS, “pooling the resources, can do a lot for the region”.

Dr. June Soomer, Secretary General of the Association of Caribbean States and her team meeting with Dr. Kenrick Leslie, Executive Director of the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre

Dr Soomer’s team also included Ms. Tricia Barrow, Political Advisor and Alexander Girvan, the Caribbean Sea Commission Coordinator.  Dr.’s Leslie’s team included Mr. Keith Kichols, Dr. Donneil Cain, Mr Vincent Peter, project development specialists, and Mr. Carlos Fuller, International and Regional Liaison Officer.

The ACS is a grouping of countries of the sharing the Caribbean Sea. The organization provides a framework for cooperation and dialogue to further the economic integration, intra-regional trade and investments to improve competitiveness of its membership.

Caribbean Scientists Work to Limit Climate Impact on Marine Environment

In the Turks and Caicos, the government is searching for new ways to manage the conch and lobster populations. Credit: Zadie Neufville/IPS

In the Turks and Caicos, the government is searching for new ways to manage the conch and lobster populations. Credit: Zadie Neufville/IPS

Caribbean scientists say fishermen are already seeing the effects of climate change, so for a dozen or so years they’ve been designing systems and strategies to reduce the impacts on the industry.

While some work on reef gardens and strategies to repopulate over fished areas, others crunch the data and develop tools designed to prepare the region, raise awareness of climate change issues and provide the information to help leaders make decisions.

As the oceans absorb more carbon, the region’s supply of conch and oysters, the mainstay of some communities, is expected to decline further.

In December 2017, the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) secretariat, with funding from the UK government, announced a Climate Report Card to help formulate strategies to lessen the impact of climate change on regional fisheries.

“The CRFM is trying to ensure that the issue of climate change as it relates to the fisheries sector comes to the fore… because the CARICOM Heads of Government have put fish and fishery products among the priority commodities for CARICOM. It means that things that affect that development are important to us and so climate change is of primary importance,” said Peter Murray, the CRFM’s Programme Manager for Fisheries and Development.

The grouping of small, developing states are ‘fortifying’ the sectors that rely on the marine environment, or the Blue Economy, to withstand the expected ravages of climate change which scientists say will increase the intensity of hurricanes, droughts, coastal sea level rise and coral bleaching.

In its last report AR5, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reported: “Many terrestrial, freshwater and marine species have shifted their geographic ranges, seasonal activities, migration patterns, abundances and species interactions in response to ongoing climate change,” patterns that are already being noted by Caribbean fishers.

In an email to IPS, Murray outlined several initiatives across the Caribbean that ,he says are crucial to regional efforts. The Report Card, which has been available since March, will provide the in-depth data governments need to make critical decisions on mitigation and adaptation. It provides information covering ocean processes such as ocean acidification; extreme events like storms, surges and sea temperature; biodiversity and civil society including fisheries, tourism and settlements.

In addition, the 17-members of the CRFM agreed to incorporate the management of fisheries into their national disaster plans, and signed off on the Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk Reduction Strategy for the fisheries sector.

“It means that anything looking at climate change and potential impacts is important to us,” Murray says.

The IPCC’s gloomy projections for world fisheries has been confirmed by a 2015 World Wildlife Fund (WWF) report indicating that for the last 30 years, world fisheries have been in decline due to climate change. In the Caribbean, reduced catches are directly impacting the stability of entire communities and the diets and livelihoods of some of the region’s poorest. Further decline could devastate the economies of some islands.

But even as climate change is expected to intensify the effects of warming ocean waters, pelagic species could avoid the Caribbean altogether, bringing even more hardships. So the regional plan is centred on a Common Fisheries Policy that includes effective management, monitoring and enforcement systems and tools to improve risk planning.

In addition to the disaster plan and its other activities, the Community has over time installed a Coral Reef Early Warning System; new data collection protocols; improved computing capacity to crunch climate data; an insurance scheme to increase the resilience of fishing communities and stakeholders; as well as several tools to predict drought and excessive rainfall.

Worldwide, three billion people rely on fish as their major source of protein. The industry provides a livelihood for about 12 per cent of the world’s population and earns approximately 2.9 trillion dollars per year, the WWF reports. With regional production barely registering internationally, the Caribbean is putting all its efforts into preserving the Blue Economy, which the World Bank said earned the region 407 billion dollars in 2012.

The Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre, known regionally as the 5Cs, has coordinated and implemented a raft of programmes aimed at building systems that will help the region cope the effects of climate change.

Through collaboration with the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the 5Cs has been setting up an integrated network of climate and biological monitoring stations to strengthen the region’s early warning mechanism.

And as the oceans absorb more carbon, the region’s supply of conch and oysters, the mainstay of some communities, is expected to decline further. In addition, warming sea water is expected to shift migration routes for pelagic fish further north, reducing the supply of available deep sea fish even more. Added to that, competition for the dwindling resources could cause negative impacts of one industry over another.

But while scientists seek options, age-old traditions are sometimes still pitted against conservation projects. Take an incident that played out in the waters around St. Vincent and the Grenadines a few weeks ago when whale watchers witnessed the harpooning of two orcas by Vincentian fishermen.

The incident forced Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves to announce the end of what was, until then, a thriving whaling industry in the village of Barouille. For years, government turned a blind eye as fishermen breached regional and international agreements on the preservation of marine species. The continued breaches are also against the Caribbean Community’s Common Fisheries Policy that legally binds countries to a series of actions to protect and preserve the marine environment and its creatures.

On April 2, five days after the incident, Gonsalves took to the airwaves to denounce the whaling caused by “greed” and announce pending regulations to end fishing for the mammals. The incident also tarnished the island’s otherwise excellent track record at climate proofing its fishing industry.

Murray’s email on regional activities outlines SVG activities including the incorporation of the regional strategy and action plan and its partnership with several regional and international agencies and organisations to build resilience in the marine sector.

Over in the northern Caribbean, traditions are also testing regulations and international agreements. In Jamaica, the Sandals Foundation in association with major supermarket chains has launched a campaign to stop the capture and sale of parrotfish for consumption.

Scientists say that protecting the parrotfish is synonymous with saving the reefs and mitigating the effects of climate change. And further north in the Turks and Caicos, the government is searching for new ways to manage the conch and lobster populations. While trade is regulated, household use of both, sea turtles, and some sharks remain unregulated; and residents are resistant to any restrictions.

And while many continue to puzzle about the reasons behind the region’s climate readiness, scientists caution that there is no time to ease up. This week they rolled out, among other things, a coastal adaptation project and a public education and awareness (PAE) programme launched on April 26 in Belize City.

The PAE project, named Feel the Change, is funded by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Japan-Caribbean Climate Change Project (J-CCCP) public awareness programme. Speaking at the launch, project development specialist at 5Cs, Keith Nichols, pointed to the extreme weather events from severe droughts to changes in crop cycles, which have cost the region billions.

“Climate change is not just sea level rise and global warming; climate change and climate variability is all around us,” he said.

Credit: Inter Press Service News Agency

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.

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)

Jamaican communities better able to address emergencies and climate change with Canadian support

Abacus for Communities and the Caribbean Coastal Area Management Foundation (C-CAM) recently completed the projects in Jamaica which have helped communities across the island to reduce their vulnerability to natural hazards and climate change.

Jamaica’s largest environmental conservation area, Portland Bight, is now better equipped to deal with climate change with the completion of The Portland Bight Protected Area Disaster Risk Reduction Project. C-CAM, which is responsible for the area that is home to birds, iguanas, crocodiles, manatees, marine turtles, and fish, received over CAD$15,000 and made additional contributions of more than CAD$8,000 to plant mangroves and train community members and students on their care.

Under the Community Emergency Communications for Natural Disaster and Climate Change Adaptation in Jamaica project, implemented by Abacus for Communities, emergency telecommunications systems were provided to 10 communities across Jamaica and 321 individuals were trained in the use of the equipment. This equipment and training has enabled these communities to have emergency communications during hazard events, thereby allowing emergency agencies to be able to access the information needed to plan their response and recovery efforts. This project totaled over CAD$175,000, with CAD$80,661 coming from the Government of Canada.

The Canadian High Commissioner, Mr. Sylvain Fabi, was delighted to be able to present both organizations with plaques to commemorate the successful implementation of these community-based disaster risk reduction initiatives.

Mr. Fabi commented during the presentation that “we have all seen the devastation that can be caused by natural disasters and climate change. With these projects, it is our hope, that Jamaica will be more resilient and prepared for future events.”

Rising sea levels, coastal erosion, and an escalation in the frequency and intensity of tropical storms and hurricanes threaten homes and businesses across the Caribbean. This can result in loss of life and has a significant negative impact on sustainable economic growth. To be able to respond to the increased threat of natural disasters and climate change, communities must build their resilience. The Canada Caribbean Disaster Risk Management Fund is a CAD $3 million fund designed to support Caribbean-based non-governmental organizations, community groups, and governmental agencies working at the community level.

For more details, contact the Public Affairs Section, Canadian High Commission, 3 West Kings House Road, Kingston 10, Jamaica  Telephone: (876) 733-3253

Salt River, Clarendon in the Portland Bight Protected Area. (My photo)

Salt River, Clarendon in the Portland Bight Protected Area. (My photo)

Credit: Petchary's Blog

Trinidad and Tobago civil society ready to tackle climate change in 2017

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Representatives from the five beneficiary CSOs, Conservation International and CANARI

 

Five civil society organisations (CSOs) in Trinidad and Tobago are starting 2017 ready to tackle climate change through raising awareness, advocating for strong policies and action, and implementing practical adaptation projects guided by assessments of what are the key vulnerabilities and priorities for resilience building.

The five CSOs – Caribbean Youth Environment Network Trinidad and Tobago Chapter (CYENTT), Environmental Research Institute Charlotteville (ERIC), Environment Tobago, Fondes Amandes Community Reforestation Project (FACRP), and Turtle Village Trust (TVT) – have been participating in the “Climate ACTT: Action by Civil society in Trinidad and Tobago to build resilience to climate change” project, which aimed to build the capacity of five CSOs in Trinidad and Tobago to deliver programmes/projects related to climate change adaptation and resilience.

Over the last 16 months, the Caribbean Natural Resources Institute (CANARI) implemented and managed this project in collaboration with Conservation International and with support from BHP Billiton Trinidad and Tobago.

The Climate ACTT project wrapped up in December 2016, with a final evaluation workshop to assess results of the project, facilitate sharing of knowledge and experiences among the beneficiary CSOs and catalyse partnerships and new initiatives for climate change adaptation and resilience in Trinidad and Tobago.

Overall the Climate ACTT project was found to be a resounding success at enhancing the capacity of the five CSOs to undertake climate adaptation work.

One participant in the final evaluation workshop acknowledged “the sense of something starting as opposed to something ending”.

“This was the seed sown for the growth of the big tree,” added another participant.

All five CSOs felt energised and ready to expand their work on climate change to help to address the impacts that are already being felt in communities throughout Trinidad and Tobago.

Each CSO had participated in training and implemented a practical adaptation project that laid a foundation for exciting avenues of work moving forward. A few highlights were:

  • Caribbean Youth Environment Network Trinidad and Tobago Chapter (CYEN-TT) will build the capacity of youth so that they are aware of the impacts of climate change and have a stronger voice to call for urgent action.
  • Environmental Research Institute Charlotteville (ERIC) will educate coastal residents in north-east Tobago about the impacts of climate change on their communities and what needs to be done to adapt.
  • Environment Tobago (ET) will conduct vulnerability assessments of coastal areas in south-east Tobago and collaborate with government, private sector and residents to identify what are the priority actions needed to build resilience to the impacts of climate change on these areas.
  • Fondes Amandes Reforestation Project (FACRP) will partner with universities to expand its research on what tree species are resilient to climate change and therefore best suited for ongoing reforestation in the western Northern Range in areas destroyed by annual fires.
  • Turtle Village Trust (TVT) will educate coastal communities in north-east Trinidad and Tobago about the impacts of climate change on sea turtles and coastal and marine ecosystems and what needs to be done to adapt.

At the evaluation workshop, the CSOs also engaged with invited partners from government, international agencies and private sector donors for a highly interactive round of group presentations and “speed dating” to discuss potential future areas of collaboration. Responses from the invited partners included “smitten” and “very proud”, and before leaving they urged the participating CSOs to be proactive in initiating their “second dates” to discuss specific opportunities for collaboration on climate adaptation initiatives moving forward.

Credit: Caribbean News Now!

Heather-Lynn’s Habitat: US$15M Climate Change Project Announced

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Eight Caribbean countries will benefit from Japanese and United Nations financial assistance to help build their resilience to climate change.

On Thursday, the US$15 million Japan-Caribbean Climate Change Partnership was launched at the Radisson Aquatica Resort. It is a partnership between the Government of Japan and the United Nations Development Fund (UNDP). Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, St Vincent, St Lucia and Suriname are the countries benefiting from the project.

Minister-Counsellor and Deputy Head of Mission at the Embassy of Japan in Trinidad, Masatoshi Sato, said his government envisaged that the project will assist the eight regional countries in developing and implementing climate change policies and promoting the adopting of selected adaptation and mitigating technologies through various island projects.

He added that the US$15 million project to the eight countries was the forerunner to Japan fulfilling its COP 21 France pledge of approximately US$8.4 billion in public and private finance to developing countries.

“As such, Japan expects the project will enable the Caribbean countries to enhance their capacity to cope with climate change and natural disasters, thus assisting them in overcoming vulnerabilities particular to small island states,” the ambassador said.

He later told the Nation Japan had invited all CARICOM countries and the eight countries were the ones which had expressed an interest in the project.

“They are interested in making their countries more resilient to the impact of climate change,” he added.

Meanwhile, UNDP’s Resident Representative for Barbados and the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States, Stephen O’Malley, told the audience the project aimed to ensure that barriers to the implementation of climate resilient technologies were addressed and overcome in a participatory and efficient manner.

“There are many lessons we can learn from Japan and from each other and this project provides ample opportunity for the region to take advantage of Japanese experiences and knowledge, particularly as it relates to energy,” he said.

Also speaking was Director of the UNDP regional Bureau for Latin America and the Caribbean Regional Hub, Rebeca Arias, who said December’s Paris agreement must be the starting point of a new era of climate action.

“It must permanently shift the global development trajectory towards one that is zero carbon and risk-informed,” she said.

Arias added that the project will facilitate climate mitigation and adaptation activities in the eight countries and will help them move towards “a green, no emission development pathway”.

Credit: Nation News

Japan and UNDP launch climate change project in eight Caribbean countries

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Members of the J-CCCP Project Board following the project launch

The government of Japan and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) launched the US$15 million Japan-Caribbean climate change partnership (J-CCCP) on Thursday, in line with the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, to keep global warming below 2 degrees Celsius and to drive efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

The launch follows a two-day meeting with more than 40 representatives from eight Caribbean countries, including government officials, technical advisors, NGO and UN partners to set out a roadmap to mitigate and adapt to climate change, in line with countries’ long-term strategies.

The new initiative will help put in practice Caribbean countries’ actions and policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to climate change, such as nationally appropriate mitigation actions (NAMAs) and national adaptation plans (NAPs). It will also boost access to sustainable energy and help reduce fossil fuel imports and dependence, setting the region on a low-emission development path, while addressing critical balance of payments constraints.

“The government of Japan is pleased to partner with UNDP. It is envisaged that the project will also contribute to building a platform for information sharing in developing and implementing climate change policies and promoting the transfer of adaptation and mitigation technologies. Japan expects, through pilot projects and information sharing, the project will enable the Caribbean countries to enhance their capacity to cope with climate change and natural disasters,” said Masatoshi Sato, minister-counsellor and deputy head of mission at the embassy of Japan in Trinidad and Tobago, stressing that the partnership will also promote South-South and North-South cooperation, including study tours to Japan for government officials and technical advisors.

Participating countries include Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Saint Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, and Suriname, benefitting an estimated 200,000 women and men in 50 communities.

“This partnership comes at a critical time in our nation’s sustainable development programme,” said Gloria Joseph, permanent secretary in the ministry of planning, economic development and investment in Dominica. “Dominica has experienced firsthand the devastating and crippling effect that climate change can have on a nation’s people, their livelihoods and economy, risking losing up to 90 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) due to a tropical storm or hurricane. Dominica stands ready and welcomes the opportunity to benefit from early response warning systems, climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction measures as it seeks to restore and ‘build back better’.”

Climate change is recognised as one of the most serious challenges to the Caribbean. With the likelihood that climate change will exacerbate the frequency and intensity of the yearly hurricane season, comprehensive measures are needed to protect at-risk communities. Boosting resilience is crucial for the region’s development and is a clear part of UNDP’s global strategic plan of programme priorities.

Negative impacts on land, water resources and biodiversity associated with climate change have also been predicted with the potential to affect shoreline stability, the health of coastal and marine ecosystems and private property, as well as ecosystem services. Increasing coastal erosion and severe coral reef bleaching events are already evident in some locations.

“UNDP has been championing the cause of climate change in the Caribbean for many years and we are pleased to partner with the Government of Japan toward the implementation of climate change projects in eight Caribbean countries,” said Rebeca Arias, regional hub director for UNDP’s Bureau for Latin America and the Caribbean. “In light of the COP21 agreement, these projects are timely in assisting countries to respond more effectively to the impacts of climate change and to increase their resilience through actions today to make them stronger for tomorrow.”

Credit: Caribbean News Now

Tackling climate change in the Caribbean

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Sanchez, Petite Martinique. Climate-Proofing the tiny island of Petite Martinique includes a sea revetment 140 metres long to protect critical coastal infrastructure from erosion. (Photo: TECLA  FONTENAD/IPS)

The world is still celebrating the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, the main outcome of the 21st Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Its ambitions are unprecedented: not only has the world committed to limit the increase of temperature to “well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels,” it has also agreed to pursue efforts to “limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C.”

This achievement should be celebrated, especially by Small Island Development States (SIDS), a 41-nation group—nearly half of them in the Caribbean—that has been advocating for increased ambition on climate change for nearly a quarter century.

SIDS are even more vulnerable to climate change impacts — and risk losing more. Global warming has very high associated damages and costs to families, communities and entire countries, including their Gross Domestic Product (GDP) according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

What does this mean for the Caribbean? Climate change is recognized as one of the most serious challenges to the Caribbean. With the likelihood that climate change will exacerbate the frequency and intensity of the yearly hurricane season, comprehensive measures are needed to protect at-risk communities.

Moreover, scenarios based on moderate curbing of greenhouse gas emissions reveal that surface temperature would increase between 1.2 and 2.3 °C across the Caribbean in this century. In turn, rainfall is expected to decrease about 5 to 6 per cent. As a result, it will be the only insular region in the world to experience a decrease in water availability in the future.

The combined impact of higher temperatures and less water would likely result in longer dry periods and increased frequency of droughts, which threaten agriculture, livelihoods, sanitation and ecosystems.

Perhaps the most dangerous hazard is sea level rise. The sea level may rise up to 0.6 meters in the Caribbean by the end of the century, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. This could actually flood low-lying areas, posing huge threats, particularly to the smallest islands, and impacting human settlements and infrastructure in coastal zones. It also poses serious threats to tourism, a crucial sector for Caribbean economies: up to 60 per cent of current resorts lie around the coast and these would be greatly damaged by sea level increase.

Sea level rise also risks saline water penetrating into freshwater aquifers, threatening crucial water resources for agriculture, tourism and human consumption, unless expensive treatments operations are put into place.

In light of these prospects, adapting to climate change becomes an urgent necessity for SIDS—including in the Caribbean. It is therefore not surprising that all Caribbean countries have submitted a section on adaptation within their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs), which are the voluntary commitments that pave the way for the implementation of the Paris Agreement.

In their INDCs, Caribbean countries overwhelmingly highlight the conservation of water resources and the protection of coastal areas as their main worries. Most of them also consider adaptation initiatives in the economic and productive sectors, mainly agriculture, fisheries, tourism and forestry.

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has been supporting Caribbean countries in their adaptation efforts for many years now, through environmental, energy-related and risk reduction projects, among others.

This week we launched a new partnership with the Government of Japan, the US$15 million Japan-Caribbean Climate Change Partnership (J-CCCP), in line with the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. The initiative will be implemented in eight Caribbean countries: Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, benefitting an estimated 200,000 women and men in 50 communities.

It will set out a roadmap to mitigate and adapt to climate change, in line with countries’ long-term strategies, helping put in practice Caribbean countries’ actions and policies to reduce greenhouse as emissions and adapt to climate change. It will also boost access to sustainable energy and help reduce fossil fuel imports and dependence, setting the region on a low-emission development path, while addressing critical balance of payments constraints.

When considering adaptation measures to the different impacts of climate change there are multiple options. Some rely on infrastructure, such as dikes to control sea level rise, but this can be particularly expensive for SIDS, where the ratio of coastal area to land mass is very high.

In this context, ecosystem-based adaptation activities are much more cost-effective, and, in countries with diverse developmental priorities and where financial resources are limited, they become an attractive alternative. This means healthy, well-functioning ecosystems to boost natural resilience to the adverse impacts of climate change, reducing people’s vulnerabilities as well.

UNDP, in partnership with national and local governments in the Caribbean, has been championing ecosystem-based adaptation and risk reduction with very rewarding results.

For example, the Government of Cuba partnered with UNDP, scientific institutes and forestry enterprises to restore mangrove forests along 84 km of the country’s southern shore to slow down saline intrusion from the sea level rise and reduce disaster risks, as the mangrove acts as a protective barrier against hurricanes.

In Grenada, in coordination with the Government and the German International Cooperation Agency, we supported the establishment of a Community Climate Change Adaptation Fund, a small grants mechanism, to provide opportunities to communities to cope with the effects of climate change and extreme weather conditions. We have engaged with local stakeholders to develop climate smart agricultural projects, and climate resilient fisheries, among other activities in the tourism and water resources sectors.

UNDP’s support is directed to balance social and economic development with environmental protection, directly benefitting communities. Our approach is necessarily aligned with the recently approved 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda and its associated Sustainable Development Goals, delivering on protecting ecosystems and natural resources, promoting food security and sanitation, while also helping reduce poverty and promoting sustainable economic growth.

While there is significant potential for climate change adaptation in SIDS, it will require additional external resources, technologies and strengthening of local capacities. In UNDP we are ideally placed to continue working hand-in-hand with Caribbean countries as they implement their INDCs and find their own solutions to climate-change adaptation, while also sharing knowledge and experiences within the region and beyond.

 

Jessica Faieta is United Nations Assistant Secretary General and UNDP Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean.

 

 

Credit: Caribbean 360

‘1.5 To Stay Alive’ Campaign Hailed A Success By CARICOM

CARICOM Secretary General Ambassador Irwin LaRocque and Dr James Fletcher, who led CARICOM negotiators, in discussion with regional heads of government, ministers and negotiators at the Paris Climate Talks.

The ‘1.5 to Stay Alive’ campaign – run primarily in the lead-up to and during the recent international climate talks in Paris – has been given praise by Caribbean Community (CARICOM) chairman Freundel Stuart.

“CARICOM’s interests were strongly represented in a focused and coordinated manner by heads of government, ministers, the CARICOM secretary-general (Irwin LaRocque)and his staff, and a team of experienced and skilled negotiators led by Dr the Honourable James Fletcher. We are satisfied that our strong advocacy helped to ensure that the [final] agreement reflected the region’s position on our major red-line issues,” Stuart, who is also prime minister of Barbados, said in a release issued by the CARICOM Secretariat through Panos Caribbean.

“The region’s successful campaign, built around the slogan ‘1.5 to Stay Alive’, received energetic support from several groups and organisations, including youth and cultural artistes, whose efforts must be applauded,” added Stuart.

The campaign kicked off in October with a launch event held in St Lucia. At the same time, a website, Facebook page, and Twitter account were established to promote Caribbean negotiating positions and to expose the region’s climate challenges.

Later, a theme song – the collaborative effort of a number of regional acts – was released.

Several other activities, including a Selfie Video Challenge and a flash mob, were also implemented to get Caribbean people in the know and behind the campaign effort.

At the talks, the region, for the first time, had a pavilion – called the Wider Caribbean Pavilion – that afforded the space for strategy meetings by regional negotiators and networking among players.

Caribbean artistes Aaron Silk of Jamaica and Adrian ‘The Doc’ Martinez of Belize were also on hand to spread, through music, the ‘1.5 To Stay Alive’ message, and were big hits with participants.

PAID OFF

In the end, Stuart said it all paid off.

“We believe that the actions and investment approved in the agreement will bring us closer to the goal of maintaining global average temperature rise well below two degrees Celsius and along a clear trajectory downwards towards 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels,” he said.

“That agreement will also help to realise the goals of lower greenhouse gas emissions, greater resilience, and sustainable development, especially among the small-island and low-lying coastal developing states (SIDS), with the most vulnerable populations such as the countries of the Caribbean. We determinedly and successfully promoted recognition of the special circumstances and vulnerabilities of SIDS, which are among the lowest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions, but are the most threatened by climate change,” Stuart added.

One Jamaican actor involved in the negotiations agreed that the Caribbean could feel satisfied with the result.

“The CARICOM region can be satisfied with the outcome, which retains the recognition under the (United Nations Framework) Convention (on Climate Change), of the fact that SIDS have specific needs and face special circumstances which render our territories particularly vulnerable to the adverse impacts of climate change. We have also secured a decision for equal funding for adaptation and mitigation,” noted Colonel Oral Khan, a member of the Jamaica delegation to Paris and chief technical director in the Ministry of Water, Land, Environment, and Climate Change.

“This is very significant for us as the science is telling us that the concentration of greenhouse gases is already at a level that can be catastrophic. We, therefore, cannot await the benefits from current mitigation efforts, which will be realised over the next half a century. There are things we must do now to protect vital sectors of our economy and the lives of our people,” he added.

What remains is to have these things actioned.

“The international community must now retain the energising and uplifting spirit of Paris in the process going forward. The world expects no less,” Stuart said.

Credit: Jamaica Gleaner
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