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CCCCC adds LiDAR to boost Caribbean’s Climate Change Fight

Credit: Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre. Not for use without written permission.

Belmopan, Belize; November 30, 2018 – The Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) through the USAID-funded Climate Change Adaptation Program (USAID CCAP) is about to launch its most recent initiative to significantly boost the Caribbean’s ability to limit the ravages of climate change by improving its capability to monitor and plan for physical changes to the land and marine environments.

On Monday, December 3, the Centre will launch a US$2million Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) System, acquired through the United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) three-year CCAP Project.

The acquisition of an Airborne LiDAR system by the Centre – also known as the 5Cs – is possibly the most significant achievement for data capture in the Caribbean. For decades, countries of the region have clamoured for LiDAR produced data the high cost all but prohibited its application; and the use of  LiDAR was made more difficult since such services had to be sourced from outside the region, adding to costs. At the same time, the requirement for more accurate data to provide evidence of climate change impacts has grown and is rapidly becoming the standard for climate financing.

The purchase of the LiDAR system was made possible through funds provided by the Barbados-based USAID Eastern and Southern Caribbean Office through the 5Cs executed Climate Change Adaptation Program (USAID CCAP).  The use of an airborne LiDAR is the result of a collaboration with Maya Island Air (MIA), a locally-owned Belizean airline company. These critical developments also influenced the Caribbean Development Bank and the Government of Italy to provide financial support for the LiDAR system, which is soon to become operational in a region-wide exercise to map some 10,000 square miles of vulnerable coastal areas in the region.

Dr Kenrick Leslie, the Executive Director of the Centre welcomed the launch of the Centre’s latest tool in building climate resilience.  The system enhances the Centre’s capacity to provide the region with critical data essential for building climate resilient communities. He noted that with the LiDAR system, “Caribbean leaders will now have access to the data set necessary for the development of tools for use in vulnerability and capacity assessments and early warning systems, and tangible adaptation and disaster risk reduction initiatives.  The documentation of the state of the current coastal bathymetric and topographic environment will allow for the development and implementation of appropriate sustainability policies.”

The technology is capable of simultaneously gathering topographic and bathymetric (depth of the seafloor) data, which are to be used to provide detailed information of the region’s coastal areas, reefs and seafloor to produce flood and inundation maps and other products.

Christopher Cushing, Mission Director of the USAID Eastern and Southern Caribbean is expected to formally hand over the equipment to the 5Cs at the launch. This is the Agency’s latest contribution to the regional data enhancement capability under the USAID CCAP. In addition to the LiDAR, five data buoys have been added to the regional Coral Reef Early Warning System (CREWS) network, and 50 Automatic Weather Stations (AWS) have been added to the regional climate and weather monitoring and data collection efforts in the Eastern and Southern Caribbean.

The project has also provided a computer server that will enhance the input, processing and sharing of the vast amount of data generated from the equipment acquired under the project. The information will ensure that the CCCCC, its partners and regional Universities are able to provide accurate and country-specific climate and climate change data to help countries improve their countries abilities to protect their citizens from the effects of climate change.

Dr Leslie has expressed gratitude to USAID,  the Caribbean Development Bank, the Government of Italy and his own staff for the commitment to the Centre and the region.  The Executive Director also commended Maya Island Air for collaborating with the Centre to outfit a plane with the LiDAR.

With a brand new Cessna aircraft fully customised to fly LiDAR missions, the partnership between the 5Cs and Maya Island Air also represents a new era of public-private partnerships and corporate social responsibility for the benefit of resilience building to the impacts of climate change in the Caribbean.

“Their support will help us to provide a system that was otherwise prohibitive.  It is the tangible demonstration of the Airline’s corporate contribution to the Region’s Climate Change initiative”, said Dr. Leslie.

The USAID CCAP Project is helping to build the capacities of regional, national, and local partners to generate and use climate data for decision-making in government and other sectors. The project is also working to strengthen the ability of beneficiary countries to develop successful proposals to access international climate financing.

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The Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre coordinates the region’s response to climate change. Officially opened in August 2005, the Centre is the key node for information on climate change issues and the region’s response to managing and adapting to climate change. We maintain the Caribbean’s most extensive repository of information and data on climate change specific to the region, which in part enables us to provide climate change-related policy advice and guidelines to CARICOM member states through the CARICOM Secretariat. In this role, the Centre is recognized by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the United Nations Environment Programme, and other international agencies as the focal point for climate change issues in the Caribbean. The Centre is also a United Nations Institute for Training and Research recognised Centre of Excellence, one of an elite few. Learn more about how we’re working to make the Caribbean more climate resilient by perusing The Implementation Plan.

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CCCCC, Govts of Belize and Italy break ground for Multi-Purpose Facility

L-R: Keith Nichols, Head of the Project Development and Management Unit, CCCCC; Dr. Kenrick Leslie, Executive Director, CCCCC; Minister Plenipotentiary Roberto Natali, Special Envoy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Italy; Dr. Hon. Omar Figueroa, Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries, Forestry, Environment and Sustainable Development, Government of Belize; Hon. Hugo Patt, Minister of Natural Resources, Government of Belize; Mr. Joseph McGann, Senior Project Manager, CCCCC

Belmopan, Belize; November 28, 2018 – The Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC), in collaboration with the Governments of Belize and Italy, held a ground breaking ceremony for the construction of a Community Multi-purpose Emergency Centre (CMEC) at the Victor Galvez Stadium, in San Ignacio, Belize on Wednesday, November 28, 2018.

Breaking of the Ground – (L-R): Dr. Hon. Omar Figueroa, Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries, Forestry, Environment and Sustainable Development, Government of Belize; Minister Plenipotentiary Roberto Natali, Special Envoy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Italy; Dr. Kenrick Leslie, Executive Director, CCCCC

The project “Reducing the Carbon Footprint of San Ignacio and Five Surrounding Villages in the Cayo District” is being implemented as a collaborative effort by the Government of Belize and the CCCCC with financial support from the Government of Italy. Approximately 25,000 residents in San Ignacio and surrounding villages are expected to benefit directly from the project at completion. The project include replacing existing street lighting in San Ignacio with more efficient Light Emitting Diode (LED) lights and the building of a multi-purpose facility for use as a disaster shelter and a community centre.

Project Manager Mr Joseph McGann noted that the project aims to build the recipient communities’ resilience to climate change and climate variability, which has led to increased intensity of extreme meteorological events in the form of hurricanes, floods, and droughts. These events have had profound negative impacts on national economies of Small Islands and Coastal Developing States (SIDS), threatening the survival of the most vulnerable populations and communities in these States, including Belize. With the implementation of the project, the Government of Belize, aims to:

  1. Quantify the benefits to be derived from the reduction of Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emission, through the use of more efficient lighting systems; and
  2. Reduce the vulnerability of rural communities to the impacts of extreme weather and other disaster generating events.

Dr. Hon. Omar Figueroa, Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries, Forestry, Environment and Sustainable Development, Government of Belize

“We are extremely grateful for this collaboration with the Government and People of Italy. Belize, like so many Small Island Developing States, is disproportionately affected by the devastating impacts of climate change. Today, with this collaborative project with the Italians and the 5Cs, our community moves one step closer to adapt to what can be these devastating consequences of climate change.” said Dr. Hon. Omar Figueroa, Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries, Forestry, Environment and Sustainable Development, for the Government of Belize.

Minister Plenipotentiary Roberto Natali, Special Envoy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Italy

Minister Plenipotentiary Roberto Natali, Special Envoy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Italy told the gathering: “The great job of the Centre, directed by Dr. Leslie and his staff, the Government of Belize and the Government of Italy, made this miracle because this was something which was important for this region. And all (of us) together with collaboration and sincere decision, we have made this project and other things are already operative. I am proud that my country can contribute to this.”

Replacement of streetlights is expected to reduce energy consumption within the project area from 150W to 60W, per lamp, a 60% reduction in energy use; reduce emissions by 184 metric tons of CO2 per year; and result in some US$40,000 savings, which can be used for the benefit of the communities.

The Community Multi-purpose Emergency Centre (CMEC) will provide the residents of five rural communities and the town of San Ignacio with a central self-contained Centre that can be used both as a shelter in the event of a weather-related and other emergencies, and for other community social and sporting purposes and events. The five rural communities to be served by the Centre are Trenchtown, Kontiki, Boiton Area, Mosquitoville and Shawville.

The completed Community Centre will be equipped with an independently powered hybrid grid-connected PV renewable energy system, a rainwater storage system; an emergency communication system to ensure its continued operation during a major weather or other disaster event. Construction of the CMEC commenced November 22, 2018 and is expected to be completed by May 31, 2019 at an estimated cost of BZ$1.6 million. Funding is being provided by the Government of Italy and the Government of Belize.

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The Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre coordinates the region’s response to climate change. Officially opened in August 2005, the Centre is the key node for information on climate change issues and the region’s response to managing and adapting to climate change. We maintain the Caribbean’s most extensive repository of information and data on climate change specific to the region, which in part enables us to provide climate change-related policy advice and guidelines to CARICOM member states through the CARICOM Secretariat. In this role, the Centre is recognised by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the United Nations Environment Programme, and other international agencies as the focal point for climate change issues in the Caribbean. The Centre is also a United Nations Institute for Training and Research recognised Centre of Excellence, one of an elite few. Learn more about how we’re working to make the Caribbean more climate resilient by perusing The Implementation Plan.

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CARICOM Unified on COP24 Expectations

The twenty-fourth Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate, known as COP24, will take place in Poland from December second to the fourteenth. The key objective of this year’s conference is to adopt the implementation guidelines of the Paris Agreement. It brings together world leaders and champions of the environment in a number of high-level events. Belize is part of the block of countries identified as Small Island Developing States. Last week, CARICOM member states of the grouping met in Barbados to prepare for the conference. The Caribbean Community Climate Change Center’s Carlos Fuller shares the region’s expectation of the event:

Carlos Fuller

Carlos Fuller, International & Regional Liaison Officer, CCCCC

“For us, COP24 is an important one because it is the most significant COP after the Paris Agreement, which will actually provide the rules of the Paris Agreement. So, when you read through the Paris Agreement, for example, it says many things. It establishes a transparency framework – well what is it? We have to say what that is. It establishes a compliance committee, so what will the compliance committee do? These are the things that will set the stage for the implementation of Paris Agreement.  These are the technical parts. However, there are two aspects of the Paris Agreement that will happen at the COP that are very important for the Small Island Developing States. The first of all is this IPCC Special Report on one point five degrees global warming. We know, for example, that report was actually commissioned by COP21 which adopted the Paris Agreement. It requested the IPCC to prepare this report at the request of Small Island Developing States, because we were concerned that within the Paris Agreement while it gives the goal of two point zero, it also says let us strive for one point five. So, this report feeds into aspects of it and there are parts of that report that are very alarming for small island developing states.”

Andrea Polanco

“With the IPCC Report, does it change the way you are going to go into COP24?”

Carlos Fuller

“Most definitely. It shows us the sense of urgency that it is much greater now. It also shows us that the kind of financing that we are asking for, it has changed the landscape totally. What was being provided will not be enough for countries to reduce their emissions to greenhouse gases, much less to adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change which we in Belize are already experiencing.”

CREDIT: Channel 5 Belize

IPCC Report Front and Center of CARICOM’s Approach to COP24

And so if you’re wondering what exactly the IPCC Report means for the small island developing states; the news is grim.  For coral reefs and other vulnerable ecosystems it may mean a massive die out if we can’t keep global temperatures down to one point five degrees Celsius. Fuller said that the report has a big impact on the SIDS’ approach to COP24. But not all is doom and gloom, as there is roughly about twelve years for countries to cut emissions and bring down the global temperatures.

Carlos Fuller, International & Regional Liaison Officer, CCCCC

“First of all, it tells us that already the earth has warmed by one point one degrees Celsius, so we only have point four degrees Celsius more to go before we reach the one point five degrees Celsius above pre-industrial averages.  We are already feeling the effects of that one degree rise already. At one point five it is going to be worse, but at two degrees it is going to be alarming. Ecosystems that could potentially adapt at one point five will not be able to survive at two degrees Celsius. For us, at one point five, we will lose seventy-five to ninety percent of our coral reefs. At two degrees, it is totally dead. That, obviously, we cannot accept. The good part of the report says it is still achievable to reach the one point five degrees Celsius target. Current greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere are not enough to lead us to one point five yet. So, if we do something now it can be achieved but we only have ten years to do it because after 2030 unless we address it, we have lost the one point five target. So, it can be done and we know that it will require a huge investment in transforming our economies from fossil fuel based to renewable energy where Belize is doing a great role. But it has to be all sectors, electricity, transport, agriculture, forestry – so all sectors must contribute to that. So, we want that to come out at the COP and we know that we might face some setbacks there.”

CREDIT: Channel 5 Belize

Panos Caribbean Launches New Climate Justice Campaign

On the eve of the next global climate change conference to be held in Poland in December, and following the release of a special report by the International Panel on Climate Change that highlights the urgent need for action by governments, industries and individuals to contain global warming, Panos Caribbean is launching a new regional campaign to support the Caribbean and other vulnerable countries in the fight against climate change.

The face of the campaign is a new, powerful painting by Saint Lucian – American artist Jonathan Gladding. It pictures a young girl with her body almost entirely submerged by sea-level rise, and with her fingers sending the desperate message that she needs #1point5tostayalive.

Saint Lucian poet and playwright Kendel Hippolyte, who played a lead role in the campaign to secure the historic Paris Agreement in 2015, has called on Caribbean artists to add their voice to the call for decisive global action against climate change.

Click on the image above to obtain and download large-resolution.

“We cannot look at our children and grandchildren and say we did nothing or we did not know what to do. Whatever artistic gift we have – and whatever rewards it brings or we hope it will bring – will not mean a thing if all we hand over to our descendants is a planet that is their funeral pyre even while they are alive,” says Hippolyte.

Hippolyte has also revealed that he is working on a new theme song, entitled “1.5 Is Still Alive”, in collaboration with musician and humanitarian Taj Weekes. As was done in 2015 with the theme song of the campaign leading to the Paris conference, this project will bring together a number of well-known Caribbean singers.

“In a campaign such as this,” says Panos Caribbean’s coordinator Yves Renard, “artists play a pivotal role, because their voices are known and credible, and because they are able to convey messages in ways that resonate with the culture, feelings and concerns of people and communities. We encourage all organisations,” Renard said, “to reproduce Jonathan Gladding’s beautiful painting and use it to convey the urgency of action.”

JonathanGladdingThe Paris Agreement signed at the historic climate conference in 2015 called on all countries “to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase … to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial average”. Climate change experts now confirm that global warming is on track to break the 1.5°C mark by around 2040.

PICTURED, LEFT: SAINT LUCIAN – AMERICAN ARTIST JONATHAN GLADDING

Experts agree that an increase of average global temperature above 1.5°C will have disastrous impacts on the Caribbean and other vulnerable regions of the world, but they also believe that it is possible to contain global warming, that we have the technology to reduce our impact on the climate. “It is still possible to contain the rise of global temperature, but that will not happen unless governments and businesses in the largest emitting countries are prepared to take radical measures and unless everybody, from the schoolchild to the government official, from the technician to the parent, from the wise elder to the young dreamer, contributes their pebble or their stone towards building a bulwark against climate change.”

This regional awareness campaign is supported by the Caribbean Development Bank and the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre, in collaboration with the CARICOM Secretariat, the OECS Commission and other regional entities.

CREDIT: PANOS Caribbean

CCCCC begins handover of data collection devices

PRESS RELEASE – Belmopan, Belize; November 15 – On Wednesday November 14, the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) began its handover of data collection devices purchased with funding from the USAID Climate Change Adaptation Program (USAID CCAP) to nine countries in the eastern Caribbean.

Executive Director Dr. Kenrick Leslie and officials from USAID Eastern and Southern Office (USAID ESO) handed over the first of the 50 Automatic Weather Stations (AWS) and the 5 Coral Reef Early Warning System (CREWS) to the government St Vincent and the Grenadines at a ceremony held at the Argyle International Airport.

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Under the project, one AWS and one CREWS station were installed in SVG. St. Lucia and Grenada also received one each AWS and CREWS station; two AWS and one CREWS were installed in St Kitts, while four AWS and one CREWS station were installed in Antigua.

Automatic Weather Station installed in Antigua

Other beneficiaries are Guyana with 21 AWS, Suriname with 16 and the CIMH in Barbados with three. These data collection devices are to enhance the region’s ability to monitor Marine and Terrestrial Environmental parameters to provide more reliable climate and climate change data.

More than US$3 million dollars were spent under USAID CCAP to enhance the region’s data collection capabilities as the Centre and its partners seek to build the Caribbean’s resilience to climate variability and change.

The marine and land-based data gathering systems were installed with assistance from the Caribbean Institute for Meteorology and Hydrology (CIMH), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the governments of recipient countries. The CIMH has responsibility for maintenance under an agreement with the Centre.

The new CREWS data buoys provide Caribbean scientists and researchers with marine data that allow them to monitor reef health, sea temperature changes, winds (speed and gusts), barometric pressure, precipitation, photo-synthetically active/available radiation (PAR, light), air temperature, and salinity. Other instruments may be added through arrangement with the host countries. The AWS’ collection of critical data to support climate services and climate change modelling in the region by improving the monitoring and collection of environmental variables including temperature, relative humidity, solar radiation, atmospheric pressure and rainfall.

The systems are critical tools for building resilience, providing data to support climate and climate change science and information to aid decision makers. USAID CCAP supports activities that are critical for the successful implementation of climate change adaptation strategies across the Caribbean.

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The Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre coordinates the region’s response to climate change. Officially opened in August 2005, the Centre is the key node for information on climate change issues and the region’s response to managing and adapting to climate change. We maintain the Caribbean’s most extensive repository of information and data on climate change specific to the region, which in part enables us to provide climate change-related policy advice and guidelines to CARICOM member states through the CARICOM Secretariat. In this role, the Centre is recognized by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the United Nations Environment Programme, and other international agencies as the focal point for climate change issues in the Caribbean. The Centre is also a United Nations Institute for Training and Research recognised Centre of Excellence, one of an elite few. Learn more about how we’re working to make the Caribbean more climate resilient by perusing The Implementation Plan.

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IPCC Releases 1.5 Report with dire warning for the Caribbean and the World

Belmopan, Belize; October 10, 2018 – The highly anticipated 1.5 degrees’ report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has been released, and the news is dire. But while Scientists ‘sound the alarm about complacency’, they’ve given hope that it is still possible to keep global warming to 1.5 degrees.

The report clearly outlines the risks of exceeding 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels; this is the upper limit of warming that small islands states have advocated for many years.

“This report is a wake-up call for governments and the world, that we no longer have time for playing-around. It is time for hard-work to avert climate change and  the small islands states need significant financial help to make it happen” said Science Advisor and deputy executive director at the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) Dr Ulric Trotz.

In the Special Report on Global Warming at 1.5 Degrees released on Monday, October 8, 2018, the IPCC warned that the global leaders need to quickly cut carbon emissions over the next decade. The landmark report by the world’s top scientists studying climate change noted, that to avoid going past 1.5 degrees Celsius of pre-industrial levels, the world needs to adopt “rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society”.

“From the small island perspective, this is probably the most important report the IPCC has done, not only because it was in part called for by Small Island Developing States (SIDS) but also because every important message we have been requesting over the years is now backed up by scientific assessment in this report,” said Dr Michael Taylor one of the Caribbean’s leading climate scientists and a contributor to the report.

Dr Taylor noted that the Caribbean science underpins the assessments and supports the urgency of the messages that highlight not only the expected impacts on the region at 1.5 degrees”, but also “the enormous risks of 2 degrees, to the synergies with Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s), to adaptation needs, deficits and costs, to the necessity for more mitigation”.

The report outlines the considerable risks now being faced by SIDS to the escalating impacts of extreme events, from sea level rise to slowed economic growth, biodiversity loss and significant global risks, should global warming exceed 1.5°C.

For SIDS, the difference between warming at 1.5°C and 2°C is critical, resulting in increased water stress, more intense rainfall during tropical cyclones, and increased exposure to irreversible sea level rise. Some coral reefs would be able to adapt at 1.5°C, at 2°C their chances of survival are next-to-none, irrecoverably damaging the fisheries and livelihoods that depend on them.

Here in the Caribbean, the changes are already happening. The region is experiencing hotter days and nights, more intense rainfall as well as more and longer periods of drought, putting lives, livelihoods and economies at risk.

Significant data from the Caribbean and SIDS have featured prominently in this IPCC reports which provides a clear picture of the level of devastation that would occur at 2 degrees. The inclusion of regional data sets has been hailed a success by the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) the agency designated by CARICOM to lead the Caribbean’s response to Climate Change.

“We set out to have the Caribbean situation reflected in the report and we have accomplished that,” Trotz said.

The Centre has been working with regional and international organisations to pull together institutions such as Cuba’s Institute of Meteorology, the Caribbean’s own CIMH, the Universities of the West Indies and Suriname and others to coordinate the production of Caribbean-specific models and information which provided critical information to the special report.

The 1.5 report was released during the 48th Session of the IPCC in Incheon, Republic of Korea.

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Link to the Special Report on Global Warming at 1.5 Degrees: http://ipcc.ch/report/sr15/.

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The Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre coordinates the region’s response to climate change. Officially opened in August 2005, the Centre is the key node for information on climate change issues and the region’s response to managing and adapting to climate change. We maintain the Caribbean’s most extensive repository of information and data on climate change specific to the region, which in part enables us to provide climate change-related policy advice and guidelines to CARICOM member states through the CARICOM Secretariat. In this role, the Centre is recognized by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the United Nations Environment Programme, and other international agencies as the focal point for climate change issues in the Caribbean. The Centre is also a United Nations Institute for Training and Research recognised Centre of Excellence, one of an elite few. Learn more about how we’re working to make the Caribbean more climate resilient by perusing The Implementation Plan.

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Maya Farmers in South Belize Hold Strong to Their Climate Change Experiment

In one of Belize’s forest reserves in the Maya Golden Landscape, a group of farmers is working with non-governmental organisations to mitigate and build resilience to climate change with a unique agroforestry project.

Magnus Tut a member of the Trio Cacao Farmers Association cuts open a white cacao pod from one of several bearing treen in his plot. The group is hoping to find more buyers for their organic white cacao and vegetables. Credit: Zadie Neufville/IPS

BELMOPAN, Sep 5 2018 (IPS) – In one of Belize’s forest reserves in the Maya Golden Landscape, a group of farmers is working with non-governmental organisations to mitigate and build resilience to climate change with a unique agroforestry project.

The Ya’axché Conservation Trust helps farmers to establish traditional tree crops, like the cacao, that would provide them with long-term income opportunities through restoring the forest, protecting the natural environment, while building their livelihoods and opportunities. Experts say the farmers are building resilience to climate change in the eight rural communities they represent.

The agroforestry concession is situated in the Maya Mountain Reserve and is one of two agroforestry projects undertaken by the 5Cs, the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC), in its efforts to implement adaptation and mitigation strategies in communities across the Caribbean.

Close to 6,000 people both directly and indirectly benefit from the project which Dr. Ulric Trotz, science advisor and deputy executive director of the 5Cs, noted was established with funding from the United Kingdom Department for International Development (UK DFID).

“It is easily one of our most successful and during my most recent visit this year, I’ve seen enough to believe that the concept can be successfully transferred to any community in Belize as well as to other parts of the Caribbean,” he told IPS.

The Trio Cacao Farmers Association and the Ya’axché Conservation Trust have been working together since 2015 to acquire and establish an agroforestry concession on 379 hectares of disturbed forest. The agroforestry project was given a much-need boost with USD250,000 in funding through the 5Cs.

According to Christina Garcia, Ya’axché’s executive director, the project provides extension services. It also provides training and public awareness to prepare the farmers on how to reduce deforestation, prevent degradation of their water supplies and reduce the occurrence of wildfires in the beneficiary communities and the concession area.

Since the start, more than 50,000 cacao trees have been planted on 67 hectares and many are already producing the white cacao, a traditional crop in this area. To supplement the farmers’ incomes approximately 41 hectares of ‘cash’ crops, including bananas, plantains, vegetable, corn and peppers, were also established along with grow-houses and composting heaps that would support the crops.

This unique project is on track to become one of the exemplary demonstrations of ecosystems-based adaptation in the region.

The 35 farming families here are native Maya. They live and work in an area that is part of what has been dubbed the Golden Stream Corridor Preserve, which connects the forests of the Maya Mountains to that of the coastal lowlands and is managed by Ya’axché.

Farmers here believe they are reclaiming their traditional ways of life on the four hectares which they each have been allocated. Many say they’ve improved their incomes while restoring the disturbed forests, and are doing this through using techniques that are protecting and preserving the remaining forests, the wildlife and water.

On tour of the Ya’axché Agroforestry Concession in the Maya Golden Landscape. From right: Dr Ulric Trotz, deputy executive director of the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC); Dr Mark Bynoe, head of project development at the 5Cs; Isabel Rash, chair of the Trios Cacao Farmers Association; Magnus Tut, farmer and ranger and behind him Christina Garcia, executive director Ya’axché Conservation Trust. Credit: Zadie Neufville/IPS

Other members of the communities, including school-age teenagers, were given the opportunity to start their own businesses through the provision of training and hives to start bee-keeping projects. Many of the women now involved in bee-keeping were given one box when they started their businesses.

The men and women who work the concession do not use chemicals and can, therefore, market their crops as chemical free, or organic products. They, however, say they need additional help to seek and establish those lucrative markets. In addition to the no-chemicals rule, the plots are cultivated by hand, using traditional tools. But farmer Magnus Tut said that this is used in conjunction with new techniques, adding that it has improved native farming methods.

“We are going back to the old ways, which my father told me about before chemicals were introduced to make things grow faster. The hardest part is maintaining the plot. It is challenging and hard work but it is good work, and there are health benefits,” Tut told IPS.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) supports the farmers’ beliefs, reporting that up to 11 percent of greenhouse gases are caused by deforestation and “between 24 and 30 percent of total mitigation potential” can be provided by halting and reversing deforestation in the tropics.

“The hardest part of the work is getting some people to understand how/what they do impacts the climate, but each has their own story and they are experiencing the changes which make it easier for them to make the transition,” said Julio Chun, a farmer and the community liaison for the concession. He told IPS that in the past, the farmers frequently used fires to clear the land.

Chun explained that farmers are already seeing the return of wildlife, such as the jaguar, and are excited by the possibilities.

“We would like to develop eco-tourism and the value-added products that can support the industry. Some visitors are already coming for the organic products and the honey,” he said.

Ya’axché co-manages the Bladen Nature Reserve and the Maya Mountain North Forest Reserve, a combined 311,607 hectares of public and privately owned forest. Its name, pronounced yash-cheh, is the Mopan Maya word for the Kapoc or Ceiba tree (scientific name: Ceiba pentandra), which is sacred to the Maya peoples.

Of the project’s future, Garcia said: “My wish is to see the project address the economic needs of the farmers, to get them to recognise the value of what they are doing in the concession and that the decision-makers can use the model as an example to make decisions on how forest reserves can be made available to communities across Belize and the region to balance nature and livelihoods.”

Scientists believe that well-managed ecosystems can help countries adapt to both current climate hazards and future climate change through the provision of ecosystem services, so the 5Cs has implemented a similar project in Saint Lucia under a 42-month project funded by the European Union Global Climate Change Alliance (EU-GCCA+) to promote sustainable farming practices.

The cacao-based agroforestry project in Saint Lucia uses a mix-plantation model where farmers are allowed to continue using chemicals, but were taught to protect the environment. Like the Ya’axché project, Saint Lucia’s was designed to improve environmental conditions in the beneficiary areas; enhance livelihoods and build the community’s resilience to climate change.

In the next chapter, the Ya’axché farmers project is hoping that, among other things, a good samaritan will help them to add facilities for value-added products; acquire eco-friendly all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) to move produce to access points; and replace a wooden bridge that leads to the main access road.

Tut and Chun both support the views of the group’s chair Isabel Rash, that farmers are already living through climate change, but that the hard work in manually “clearing and maintaining their plots and in chemical-free food production, saves them money”, supports a healthy working and living environment and should protect them against the impacts of climate change.

Credit: Inter Press Service News Agency

CCCCC Conducts Teacher Training Workshop for Climate Change Education

Group photo of attendees on Day 1.

Belmopan, Belize; August 22, 2018 – The Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) has relaunched its 1.5˚ to Stay Alive – An Educational Initiative’ with a Teachers’ Training workshop held at its offices in Belmopan, August 20 – 21, 2018.

Dr. Kenrick Leslie, Executive Director of the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre, welcoming teachers to the training workshop.

This training workshop forms part of the Centre’s education and outreach work to embed climate change in the region’s education sector. The four-unit curriculum (The Warming Climate, Sea Level Rise, Pine Forest and Social Impacts of Global Warming), includes teaching and learning activities and a range of supporting materials such as worksheets, photographs, posters, suggestions for power point presentations, and videos.

Teachers conducted experiments that simulated some of the impacts of climate change using safe household items.

 

Teachers conducting an experiment on how the melting of ice caps and glaciers affect Sea Level Rise.

Through this means of engagement, they examined ways in which climate change can be incorporated in their syllabus, with the intent to:

  • Increase sensitisation and awareness of climate change impacts and community vulnerability;
  • Heighten ability to link personal actions to the broader climate change discussion;
  • Increase capacity to conduct vulnerability assessments of communities; and
  • Identify practical adaptation measures to reduce vulnerability.

The training workshop emphasised the need to educate children to build climate resilience through sustainable practices and development by utilising new-aged climate-smart technology and alternative energy sources.

Educators who completed the Training Workshop were provided with teaching materials, manuals and workbooks and will be awarded a certificate for eight Professional Development hours towards their licence by the Teacher Education & Development Services (TEDS) through the Ministry of Education, Youth, Sports and Culture.

Attendees included teachers from the following schools:

  • Belmopan Comprehensive School
  • Belmopan Methodist High School
  • El Shaddai S.D.A Primary School
  • United Evergreen Primary School
  • Our Lady of Guadalupe Primary School
  • Ann’s Anglican
  • Martin’s Government School
  • Garden City Primary School
  • The Shepherd’s Academy
  • Kuxlin Ha Government School
  • Representative from the Ministry of Human Development for Sacred Heart R.C. School, Santa Elena Primary School and St. Ignatius High School

The Centre expects to roll-out the programme in schools across the region in 2019.

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The Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre coordinates the region’s response to climate change. Officially opened in August 2005, the Centre is the key node for information on climate change issues and the region’s response to managing and adapting to climate change. We maintain the Caribbean’s most extensive repository of information and data on climate change specific to the region, which in part enables us to provide climate change-related policy advice and guidelines to CARICOM member states through the CARICOM Secretariat. In this role, the Centre is recognized by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the United Nations Environment Programme, and other international agencies as the focal point for climate change issues in the Caribbean. The Centre is also a United Nations Institute for Training and Research recognised Centre of Excellence, one of an elite few. Learn more about how we’re working to make the Caribbean more climate resilient by perusing The Implementation Plan.

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Urgent Action Needed to Safeguard Saint Lucia’s Biodiversity

Climate change and a lack of care for the environment could have devastating consequences for Saint Lucia’s healthy ecosystems and rich biodiversity. Credit: Desmond Brown/IPS

Climate change and a lack of care for the environment could have devastating consequences for Saint Lucia’s healthy ecosystems and rich biodiversity. Credit: Desmond Brown/IPS

Wildlife conservationists consider it to be one of the most striking parrots of its kind. Saint Lucia’s best-known species, the endangered Amazon parrot, is recognised by its bright green plumage, purple forehead and dusty red-tipped feathers. But a major conservation organisation is warning that climate change and a lack of care for the environment could have devastating consequences for Saint Lucia’s healthy ecosystems and rich biodiversity, including the parrot.

Sean Southey chairs the Commission on Education and Communication (CEC) of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

He told IPS that urgent action is needed to safeguard the eastern Caribbean island nation’s biodiversity, which is under constant threat.

“With climate change, countries like St. Lucia [experience] significant weather events. The increase in hurricanes, the increase in bad weather and mudslides – these are incredible consequences of climate change,” Southey said.

“As you drive across the landscape of St. Lucia, you see a landscape strewn with old plastic bags,” Sean Southey, chair of the Commission on Education and Communication.

Though less than 616 square kilometres in area, St. Lucia is exceptionally rich in animals and plants. The island is home to more than 2,000 native species, of which nearly 200 species occur nowhere else.

Other species of conservation concern include the pencil cedar, staghorn coral and St. Lucia racer. The racer, confined to the nine-hectare island of Maria Major, is thought to be the world’s most threatened sake.

Also at risk are mangrove forests and low-lying freshwater wetlands, Southey said.

But he said it was not too late to take action, and he urged St. Lucia and its Caribbean neighbours to take advantage of their small size.

“The smallness of islands allows for real society to get involved. What it means is helping people connect to the environment,” Southey said.

“It means that they need to know and feel and appreciate that their individual behaviours make a difference. Especially the biodiversity decisions [like] land use planning. If you are going to sell your family farm, do you sell for another commercial tourist resort, do you sell it to make a golf course or do you sell it to [produce] organic bananas? These are the type of individual decisions that people have to make that protect an island or hurt an island,” he said.

Southey added that thoughtful management of mangroves and effective management of shorelines, “can create natural mechanisms that allow you to cushion and protect society from the effects of climate change.”

St. Lucia is exceptionally rich in animals and plants. The island is home to more than 2,000 native species, of which nearly 200 species occur nowhere else. Credit: Desmond Brown/IPS

St. Lucia is exceptionally rich in animals and plants. The island is home to more than 2,000 native species, of which nearly 200 species occur nowhere else. Credit: Desmond Brown/IPS

The CEC chair said recent extreme weather events have forced people in the Caribbean to understand climate change more than inhabitants from other countries in the world do.

“If you’re over the age of 30 in the Caribbean, you’ve seen a change in weather patterns. It’s not a story that you hear on the news, it’s a reality that you feel during hurricane season every year. So I believe there is an understanding,” he said.

In September 2017, Hurricane Irma tore through many of St. Lucia’s neighbouring islands, including Barbuda.

The category five hurricane wreaked havoc on Barbuda’s world-famous frigate bird colony. Most of the 10,000-frigate bird population disappeared in the immediate aftermath of the hurricane that destroyed the mangroves in which they nest and breed.

While many countries in the Caribbean are working on building natural barriers and nature-based solutions in response to climate change, Southey still believes there needs to be a greater strengthening of that sense that people can actually do something to contribute.

Reducing plastic waste

In June 2016, Antigua took the lead in the Caribbean with a ban on the commercial use of plastic bags.

The island’s environment and health minister Molwyn Joseph said the decision was made in a bid to reduce the volume of plastic bags that end up in the watercourses and wetlands.

“We are giving our mangroves a fighting chance to be a source of healthy marine life, that can only benefit us as a people,” he said.

Antigua also became the first country within the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States and the second within the Caribbean Community, to ratify the Nagoya Protocol to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).

The Nagoya Protocol provides a transparent legal framework for the effective implementation of one of the three objectives of the CBD: the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising out of the utilisation of genetic resources.

On Jul. 3 this year, one of the Caribbean’s largest supermarket chains launched a campaign to discourage the use of single use plastic bags for bagging groceries at its checkout counters, while actively encouraging customers to shop with reusable bags as a more eco-friendly option.

Managing director of Massy Stores St. Lucia Martin Dorville said the company is focused on finding more permanent solutions to reducing plastic waste and its own demand for plastic bags.

He said the decision to encourage customers to use less plastic was bold, courageous and will help manage the adverse impacts of single use plastic on the environment.

“I am very thrilled that one of the number one supermarkets has decided to ban all plastic bags. It’s a small behaviour but it helps everyone realise that their individual actions make a difference,” Southey told IPS.

“As you drive across the landscape of St. Lucia, you see a landscape strewn with old plastic bags, so I was very appreciative of that. But what I really liked is that when I spent over USD100, they gave me a recyclable bag as a bonus to encourage me to use that as an individual so that my behaviour can make a difference,” he said.

He added that if school children could understand the importance of mangroves and complex eco-systems and the need to protect forests, wildlife and endangered birds “then I think we can make a huge difference.”

Credit: Inter Press Service (IPS) News Agency
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