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INTERVIEW-Caribbean life “as we know it” at serious risk – expert

A man rides his tricycle taxi during a thunderstorm in Havana in this 2010 file photo. REUTERS/Desmond Boylan

“A lot of the damage now comes from extreme precipitation. So that translates into floods, landslides, loss of life, loss of livelihoods”

As if hurricanes were not menacing enough, small Caribbean islands risk losing their entire way of life unless they urgently strengthen defences against a raft of future disasters, according to a climate change official.

“You don’t even need to have a hurricane to get extensive damage .. a tropical storm or depression, it comes and sits over a particular island or territory and it deposits rain,” said Ulric Trotz, deputy director at the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC).

“For us small island nations, basically everything comes to a stop. As a region, we are very exposed to climate risk .. and our projections show that this will be exacerbated,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Trotz – whose organisation coordinates the entire region’s response to climate change – said that along with the annual hurricane season, the Caribbean now faces extreme weather each year, from flooding to landslides.

Fishing and farming communities living in coastal areas and the tourism industry – vital for Caribbean economies – often bear the brunt of damage and loss of income.

Caribbean nations can now face as much rainfall as they would normally get over a period of months in the space of a few days, with drainage systems unable to cope, Trotz said.

“A lot of the damage now comes from extreme precipitation. So that translates into floods, landslides, loss of life, loss of livelihoods,” said Trotz, a science advisor.

“We have some serious concerns about the viability of Caribbean life as we know it.”

ECOSYSTEMS

One key way to make coastal areas more resilient to storm surges and rising sea levels, linked to global warming, is to protect marine, coral and mangrove ecosystems, Trotz said.

Reefs act like breakwaters reducing wave strength, while salt-tolerant mangroves can buffer against hurricane winds and storm surges and cut wave height.

“As far as the human body is concerned, the healthier the body is, the more resilient it will be in terms of dealing with some of the threats, diseases,” Trotz said.

“So the same principle applies here, that the healthier our ecosystems, the healthier our reefs, wetlands and mangroves are, the more they will be able to resist some of the impacts of climate change,” he said.

Across the Caribbean, scores of projects are underway to restore battered coral reefs, establish artificial reefs, replant damaged mangroves and place millions of acres of marine areas under protected areas by 2020.

Some Caribbean nations also face water shortages exacerbated by longer droughts linked to climate change, Trotz said.

In several islands of the Grenadines, a pilot seawater desalination project using solar power is underway.

In Guyana, to better cope with drought and changing rainy seasons, rice farmers are using water harvesting and drip irrigation systems, and are receiving short-term weather forecasts allowing them to better decide when to plant crops.

SLOW MONEY

But more defensive action is hampered by a lack of funds.

Despite the United Nations Green Climate Fund, set up in 2010 to help poor countries tackle climate change, red tape means many small island nations are unable to access funding.

“The bottom line is that we don’t have the resources,” Trotz said. “It’s not that we don’t have any idea about how we need to build resilience.”

It can take from nine months to up to eight years to get funds from donors, Trotz said.

“The longer you delay, a lot of the assumptions you have made in the first instance are no longer valid .. we have to find some way of shortening that whole process.”

Credit: Thomson Reuters Foundation News

UN Secretary General lauds CARICOM leadership on global issues

Antonio Guterres, Secretary General, United Nations

The Secretary General of the United Nations Antonio Guterres has lauded the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) for its leadership on pressing global issues.

Guterres made the statement at the opening of the 9th biennial CARICOM-UN General meeting in New York on Thursday.

“This year marks the 25th anniversary of the decision by the General Assembly to grant the Caribbean Community observer status. Since then, we have worked productively together and, today, our organisations are both undergoing processes of review and strategic planning to better face the challenges of a changing international reality. We are grateful to have benefited from your leadership on many pressing global issues.”

The UN Secretary General also highlighted CARICOM’s spearheading of the General Assembly’s discussion on non-communicable diseases.

“I am aware that, translating this vision into action, the CARICOM Heads of Government during their recent summit in Grenada, adopted a set of recommendations on measures to address the rise of NCDs in the region.”

This year marks the 10th Anniversary of the Port-of-Spain Declaration – ‘Uniting to Stop the Epidemic of Chronic Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs)’.

It was a launching pad for NCDs to become a feature on the United Nations (UN) Agenda, and in 2011 the United Nations General Assembly adopted a political resolution on the fight against the prevention of NCDs globally.

While the Heads of Government of CARICOM at their recently concluded 38th Regular Summit recognised that the Community had not sufficiently advanced the recommended actions with regard to the Declaration, they recommitted themselves to the promotion of healthy lifestyles to combat the epidemic of NCDs.

Guterres also described the Community as “pioneers” in elevating awareness on climate change, with the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) serving as a symbol of CARICOM governments working together to address the specific vulnerability of Caribbean states.

“You have highlighted the need to protect the world’s oceans and the special circumstances of the Small Island Development States,” he said, adding that the ambitious outcomes produced from the UN Oceans Conference on SGD 14 needed concrete follow-up to ensure that all nations work together to meet their obligations.

The UN Secretary-General said he was hopeful that the meeting’s discussions would identify areas for stronger cooperation towards reaching the Community Strategic Plan’s 2019 goals of improving economic, social, environmental and technological resilience, as well as strengthening governance and coordinating foreign policy among member states.

Credit: Jamaica Observer

Europe Stands by Caribbean on Climate Funding

Europe is ready to continue the global leadership on the fight against climate change, including helping the poor and vulnerable countries in the region.

Head of the European Union Delegation to Barbados, the Eastern Caribbean States, the OECS, and CARICOM-CARIFORUM, Ambassador Daniela Tramacere. Credit: Desmond Brown/IPS

A senior European Union (EU) official in the Caribbean said Europe is ready to continue the global leadership on the fight against climate change, including helping the poor and vulnerable countries in the region.

Underlining the challenges posed by climate change, Head of the European Union Delegation to Barbados, the Eastern Caribbean States, the OECS, and CARICOM/CARIFORUM, Ambassador Daniela Tramacere made it clear that the EU has no plan to abandon the extraordinary Agreement reached in Paris in 2015 by nearly 200 countries.

“The challenges identified in the Paris Agreement are of unprecedented breadth and scale.” –Ambassador Daniela Tramacere

“Climate change is a challenge we can only tackle together and, since the beginning, Europe has been at the forefront of this collective engagement. Today, more than ever, Europe recognises the necessity to lead the way on its implementation, through effective climate policies and strengthened cooperation to build strong partnerships,” Tramacere said.

“Now we must work as partners on its implementation. There can be no complacency. Too much is at stake for our common good. For Europe, dealing with climate change is a matter of political responsibility and multilateral engagement, as well as of security, prevention of conflicts and even radicalisation. In this, the European Union also intends to support the poorest and most vulnerable.

“For all these reasons, the European Union will not renegotiate the Paris Agreement. We have spent 20 years negotiating. Now it is time for action, the world’s priority is implementation,” she added.

The 2015 Paris deal, which seeks to keep global temperature rises “well below” 2 degrees C, entered into force late last year, binding countries that have ratified it to draw up specific climate change plans. The Caribbean countries, the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries and the EU played a key role in the successful negotiations.

On June 1 this year, President Donald Trump said he will withdraw the United States from the landmark agreement, spurning pleas from U.S. allies and corporate leaders.

The announcement was met with widespread dismay and fears that the decision would put the entire global agreement in peril. But to date, there has been no sign that any other country is preparing to leave the Paris agreement.

Tramacere noted that together with the global 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, the Paris Agreement has the potential to significantly accelerate the economic and societal transformation needed in order to preserve a common future.

“As we address climate change with an eye on the future, we picture the creation of countless opportunities, with the establishment of new and better ways of production and consumption, investment and trade and the protection of lives, for the benefit of the planet,” she said.

“To accelerate the transition to a climate friendly environment, we have started to strengthen our existing partnerships and to seek and find new alliances, from the world’s largest economies to the most vulnerable island states. From the Arctic to the Sahel, climate change is a reality today, not a remote concept of the future.

“However, to deliver the change that is needed and maintain the political momentum, it is vital that the targets pledged by countries and their adaptation priorities are now translated into concrete, actionable policies and measures that involve all sectors of the economy. This is why the EU has decided to channel 40 percent of development funding towards climate-related projects in an effort to accelerate countries’ commitment to the process,” Tramacere said.

The EU has provided substantial funding to support climate action in partner countries and Tramacere said it will also continue to encourage and back initiatives in vulnerable countries that are climate relevant as well as safe, sustainable energy sources.

For the Caribbean region, grant funding for projects worth 80 million euro is available, Tramacere said, noting that the aim is twofold: to improve resilience to impacts of climate change and natural disasters and to promote energy efficiency and development of renewable energy.

“This funding will be complemented by substantial financing of bankable climate change investment programmes from the European Investment Bank and other regional development banks active in the region. With the Global Climate Change Alliance (GCCA) instrument, the European Union already works with agencies in the Caribbean such as the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) or the Caribbean Climate Change Community Centre (CCCCC),” Tramacere said.

In November this year, countries will gather in Bonn for the next UN climate conference – COP23 – to continue to flesh out the work programme for implementing the Paris Agreement.

Next year, the facilitative dialogue to be held as part of the UN climate process will be the first opportunity since Paris to assess what has been done concretely to deliver on the commitments made. These are key steps for turning the political agreement reached in Paris into reality.

“The challenges identified in the Paris Agreement are of unprecedented breadth and scale. We need enhanced cooperation and coordination between governments, civil society, the private sector and other key actors,” Tramacere said.

“Initiatives undertaken not only by countries but also by regions, cities and businesses under the Global Climate Action Agenda have the potential to transform the impact on the ground. Only together will we be able to live up to the level of ambition we have set ourselves – and the expectations of future generations. The world can continue to count on Europe for global leadership in the fight against climate change.”

Caribbean countries are highly vulnerable and a significant rise in global temperatures could lead to reduced arable land, the loss of low-lying islands and coastal regions, and more extreme weather events in many of these countries. Many urban in the region are situated along coasts, and Caribbean islands are susceptible to rising sea levels that would damage infrastructure and contaminate freshwater wetlands.

Credit: Inter Press Service News Agency

CCCCC and USAID continue Climate Change Resilience Training

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

Belmopan, Belize June 26, 2017: The Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre in collaboration with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and Government of St Lucia are hosting a workshop on the Use of Climate Change Impact Tools and Models for Decision Making, Planning and Implementation on the island between June 19 and 30.

The Workshop is being held at the Bay Gardens Inn in Rodney Bay, Gros Islet, St. Lucia and is organised under the USAID-funded Climate Change Adaptation Program (USAID CCAP). The program aims to build resilience in the development initiatives of 10 countries in the Caribbean as they tackle climate change induced challenges which are already being experienced.

Under the project the Caribbean Assessment Regional DROught (CARiDRO) tool; the Weather Generator, the Tropical Storm Model and accompanying web portal and data sets have been developed and are being introduced to help countries to enhance their development activities to reduce the risks to natural assets and populations, due to climate change.

The tools are open source online resources to provide locally relevant and unbiased climate change information that is specific to the Caribbean and relevant to the region’s development. The integration of the tools into national policy agendas across the region is being spearheaded through regional and country workshops which are crucial to ensuring effective decision-making and improving climate knowledge and action.

The beneficiary countries are Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago.

The USAID CCAP project was designed to build on both USAID’s Eastern and Southern Caribbean Regional Development Cooperative Strategy, which addresses development challenges in the Eastern and Southern Caribbean, and the CCCCC’s Regional Framework for Achieving Development Resilient to a Changing Climate and its associated Implementation Plan that were unanimously endorsed by Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Heads.

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TOOLS

Regional Climate Models and Caribbean Assessment of Regional Drought (CARiDRO)

The Caribbean Assessment Regional DROught (CARiDRO) was designed to facilitate drought assessment in the context of the Caribbean and Central America. It is a flexible system that should accommodate the requirements of different users. The online tool is composed of two main sections: a descriptive one where the user can find information on how to use the tool as well as terms and concepts that are useful. The other section is where the user can fill out a form with different fields in order to produce results accordingly. CARiDRO allows the user to access and to process different observed and model datasets for the Caribbean Region to produce results based on two Drought Indexes, the Standardized Precipitation Index (McKee,1993) and the Standardized Precipitation-Evaporation Index (Serrano et al, 2010).

Weather generator

The Weather Generator provides daily weather time series for use in impact assessments and impact models. It generates weather data for the future that can be used across sectors (e.g., water, agriculture, health) in the same way as historic weather series. The main benefit and utility of the WG is that it provides information for a single point location – directly comparable to what is observed at weather stations.

Tropical storm model

A simple advection model premised on past memorable and notable storms generating grids for each 15-minute period in the storm model. The variables include precipitation rate and wind speed.

Portal and observed data

This web portal provides information and datasets concerning:

  • The observed climate of the present day
  • Regional Climate Model projection of the future climate
  • Future scenarios of weather downscaled from the Regional Climate Model projections
  • Scenarios of weather derived from hypothetical tropical cyclone events

This web portal is intended for use by regional and national institutions, consultants and scientists concerned with the climate and impacts of future climate change in the Caribbean region. Accordingly, a considerable degree of contextual knowledge of climate change and its impacts, and analytical expertise is assumed. Browse the portal: http://www.cariwig.org/ncl_portal/#info

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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 participates in the GCF Structured Dialogue with the Caribbean

Members of Staff  of the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre are currently participating in the The Green Climate Fund’s Structured Dialogue with the Caribbean held in Placencia, Belize, from June 19-22, 2017.  The Structured Dialogue is organized in collaboration with the Government of Belize and the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre with the intention to bring together key stakeholders to increase the involvement of Caribbean countries with the GCF.

Participation of countries in the Caribbean region includes Ministers, senior government officials, including representatives of the GCF National Designated Authorities (NDAs) and Focal Points, Accredited Entities, Readiness delivery partners, civil society organizations, private sector representatives, GCF Board Members and Secretariat staff among others.

 

Group Photo of Participants at the GCF Structured Dialogue with the Caribbean

The four-day gathering provides an opportunity for countries and Accredited Entities to share their experiences in engaging with the Fund across key areas. It is also aimed at developing a roadmap for countries in the region through identification of  project opportunities in partnership with Accredited Entities, as well as mapping readiness and project preparation support needs that the GCF can provide. The CCCCC welcome this opportunity to engage with the countries and entities present at the meeting and look forward to collaborating on project preparation and implementation.

Dr. Donneil Cain, Project Development Specialist, CCCCC

Dr. Donneil Cain, Project Development Specialist at the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre gave a brief overview of the CCCCC entity work programme development, which highlighted how the CCCCC develops their  work programme; the process of the development of inputs into  the work programme; addressing the challenges in developing the work programme; as well as identified ways in which the GCF could help support this process.

He highlighted that the Centre’s work programme is guided by the priority of CARICOM countries as well as the Regional Framework and Implementation Plan, which outlines the strategic direction for the region’s response to climate change risks. Projects are aligned with both national and regional strategies and plans. Climate modeling and information are also critical inputs into developing projects for our work programme. This important for building the climate change case.

Dr. Cain also identified that there are capacity constraints within the CCCCC but through coordination and collaboration, CCCCC is helping countries develop GCF ready programmes and projects. CCCCC acts as a conduit in the dissemination of relevant information to help this process and is committed to helping countries development priority programmes and projects.

The CCCCC is accredited for programmes/project value at between US$10 million and US$50 million; however, even when scaled, some of our adaptation projects would not fall within the range identified. Against this background, Dr. Cain suggested that Enhance Direct Access (EDA) facility, which is an on-granting facility, is important to delivering some adaptation initiatives in the region given their scope and scale.

On Wednesday, Dr. Mark Bynoe will expand to give details about CCCCC pipeline projects as well as identify project opportunities for the region.

The CCCCC expectations for the Structured Dialogue are:

  1. Government and NDA will have a better understanding of the GCF processes and requirements for accessing funding from the GCF; and,
  2. enhanced collaboration between entities and countries to advance adaptation and mitigation projects in the region.

CARICOM – Strengthening regional and global networks to achieve sustainable development goals

The_Oceans_Conference_Logo_Horiz_EN-1
caricom_family_photo

CARICOM participants at the Side-Event gather for a group photo

The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) staged its Side-Event at the UN Oceans Conference in New York, Wednesday, with a strong focus on networking and collaboration to help the region achieve its sustainable development goals.

The event, titled “Ocean Governance and SIDS Sustainable Development”, was convened as a partnership involving CARICOM Member States, led by Barbados and Belize; CARICOM Institutions led by the University of the West Indies (UWI); and the CARICOM Secretariat.

CARICOM_OCEANS-photo

Head Table, Side Event by CARICOM Secretariat, Governments of Belize and Barbados and UWI (l-r) Assistant Secretary General CARICOM Secretariat Dr. Douglas Slater; Belize Government Minister Hon Omar Figueroa; Barbados Government Minister Hon. Maxine McClean; Professor Robyn Mahon, UWI; Ms Christine Pratt, Pacific Forum.

The event had as a second goal, cultivating inter-regional collaboration among Small-Island and Low-lying Developing States (SIDS).  To this end, it was an engagement involving CARICOM, the Pacific Island Forum and the Indian Ocean Commission.

“The CARICOM region in the lead up to and follow up from the Samoa Conference have prioritized the intra and inter-regional collaboration amongst SIDS to advance the SIDS development agenda,” CARICOM Secretariat’s Assistant Secretary-General Dr. Douglas Slater said in welcoming remarks.  “We have tried with this event to demonstrate both.”

He said the intra-regional approach, involving Member States and Institutions, was key to insuring implementation of the SIDS agenda for Sustainable Development especially in a region where human and financial resources are often scarce.

The inter-regional collaboration, he said, stemmed from calls by Heads of Government at the 2014 Samoa Conference on SIDS, for the UN system to foster opportunities for enhanced SIDS inter-regional collaboration to fields beyond climate change negotiations.

“As such we are using this platform – the Oceans Conference – as a first step to what we hope will be many engagements between ourselves, the Pacific Island Forum and the Indian Ocean Commission, to advance the SIDS collectivity,” Dr. Slater said.

CARICOM has argued that despite longstanding recognition that, to be effective, oceans governance arrangements must be integrated across sectors and at all levels, from local to global. It has however noted that governance arrangements remains fragmented and ineffective. As an example, it noted that bio diversity, fisheries, pollution and climate change have 23 global and 120 regional agreements. CARICOM’s position is that these global and regional networks, if rationalised, connected and strengthened could provide a working global ocean governance framework for oceans that will enable achievement of the SDG 14 targets.

Indian Ocean Rep

Ms Jeana Bond, Officer in Charge of the Indian Ocean Commission,

Ms Jeana Bond, Officer in Charge of the Indian Ocean Commission, with responsibility for environment and climate, represented her Group at the CARICOM side event and signalled their own strong interest in inter-regional collaboration.

“We have arrangements to strengthen regional and inter-regional cooperation, getting institutions networking and sharing, as well as exploring areas for collaboration,” Ms Bond told the meeting.

Her position was endorsed by  the Pacific Islands Forum’s Deputy Secretary-General Ms Christelle Pratt.

“We continue to deploy our best efforts at finding common ground to effectively manage frameworks,” she told the meeting.

“We therefore see SDG 14 as an opportunity to further embed and strengthen regional ocean governance to ensure effective implementation of goal 14, but more crucially to use the current international dialogue on the world’s ocean to progress an already ambitious regional agenda for it and for our very special chunk of the Pacific Ocean that we have stewardship and custody of. And we trust that this first Ocean Conference is such an opportunity to pursue and solidify these efforts and to share  best practices between our Regions which should and must continue inter-sessionally for years and for decades to come”, she added.

The Barbados Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Senator Maxine McClean chaired the event which also received remarks from the Minister of Sustainable Development from Belize Mr. Omar Figueroa.  UWI was represented by Professor Robin Mahon, and there was a presentation from Mr. Patrick Debels of the UNDP/GEF/CLME+Project who announced the launch of a partnership for the wider Caribbean Region which involved a large marine ecosystem project.

The UN Ocean Conference, being held from 5 – 9 June at the UN Headquarters in New York, was organised to support implementation of Goal 14 of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by world leaders in 2015.  The main outcome will be a Call For Action to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.

Credit: CARICOM Today

CCORAL Training Workshop in Grenada

Caribbean Climate Online Risk and Adaptation TooL (CCORAL) Infographic

Belmopan, Belize; June 7, 2017 – The Caribbean Climate Online Risk and Adaptation tool (CCORAL) Training Workshop moved to the Public Workers Union in Grenada this week, and will run from June 6 to 9. The training is being carried out by the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) and the United States Agency for International Development/ Eastern and Southern Caribbean (USAID/ESC) under the USAID Climate Change Adaptation Program (USAID CCAP).

This Climate risk management tool, CCORAL, is being embedded in development planning across the region as a comprehensive approach to climate change risk assessment and adaptation for building climate resiliency in decision-making. It provides users a platform for identifying appropriate responses to the impacts of short and long term climate conditions by applying a risk management approach to development planning.

The training workshop is targeting key government, private sector and NGO agencies/institutions as part of a national capacity-building exercise aimed at inculcating a risk management ethos in decision-making. Through use of this online application tool, participants will evaluate national developmental issues and present their findings to senior policy and decision makers on completion of these evaluation exercises.

Peruse the CCORAL Fact Sheet and the CCORAL Brochure.

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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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US$650,000 Grant for Bartica ‘Green’ Town project

A section of Bartica. Photo Credit: Guyana Times

The Government of Guyana has received a US$650,000 grant from the Government of Italy in support of its Model ‘Green’ Town, Bartica Project. The primary objective of the grant is to establish a reliable point of reference for the existing state of energy use in Bartica. The data generated from this will be used for future measurements and predictions for evidence-based decision-making and pursuance of projects and programs.

Bartica, has been designated the model town for ‘Green’ Initiatives. This project is therefore, located within the agenda of the Green Economy Framework in lieu of Guyana’s overarching sustainable development architecture.

To this end, activities undertaken will include sensitisation and awareness of Bartica’s populace, conducting of Household Baseline Survey Study, Energy Audits of public institutions, facilities and street lighting in Bartica, Transportation Sector energy audit, among others.

These efforts are being facilitated by the Office of Climate Change, which falls under the purview of the Ministry of the Presidency, in partnership with the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC).

The project is set to be officially launched on Monday, June 5, 2017 in Bartica.

Credit: The Government of Guyana

A Challenge for the Caribbean: Nature and Tourism

Excerpt taken from the Inter-American Development Bank’s publication:

Integration & Trade Journal: Volume 21: No. 41: March, 2017

Carlos Fuller, International and Regional Liaison Officer, Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre, (CCCCC)

One of the greatest injustices of pollution is that its consequences are not limited to those who produce it. The Caribbean is one of the least polluting regions in the world but it is also one of the most exposed to global warming due to the importance of the tourism sector within its economy.

Carlos Fuller, an expert from the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre, explains the consequences of the region’s dependence on petroleum and analyzes the potential of public policy for supporting renewable energy.

How is climate change impacting the Caribbean?

The Caribbean’s greenhouse gas emissions are very small because we have a small population, we are not very industrialized, and we don’t do a lot of agriculture, so we don’t emit a lot. However, mitigation is important for us because of the high cost of fuel and energy. Most of our islands depend on petroleum as a source of energy, and when oil prices were above US$100 per barrel, we were spending more than 60% of our foreign exchange on importing petroleum products into the Caribbean. In that respect, we really want to transition to renewable energy sources as we have considerable amounts of solar, wind, geothermal, and biomass energy potential.

Has climate change started to affect tourism?

It has. Climate change is severely impacting our natural attractions, our tourist attractions. For example, we have a significant amount of erosion because of sea level rise, wave action, and storm surges, which is causing tremendous erosion and affecting our beaches. Our coral reefs, which are a big attraction, are also suffering a lot of bleaching which is impacting our fish stock. Those resources are being affected significantly. We do have significant protected areas; however, we need more resources to enforce the protection of these.

What role do public policies play in developing renewable energy?

In some countries, [we’re] doing reasonably well on this front. In Belize, for example, we now have independent coal producers and we have transitioned to an increased use of hydro, solar, and biomass, so more than 50% of our domestic electricity supply is from renewable energy sources. However, on many of the islands, we need to create an enabling environment to allow renewable energy to penetrate the market. We are going to need a lot of assistance from the international community to put in the regulatory framework that will allow us to develop renewable energy in these places. We then need to attract potential investors to provide sources of renewable energy in the region. Of course, the Caribbean’s tourism is an important sector of the economy, which is one of the reasons we need to protect our reserves and natural parks. We are also trying to make our buildings more resilient to the effects of extreme weather. That is the focus of our work.

How does the Green Climate Fund work? 

The Green Climate Fund is headquartered in South Korea and it has an independent board of management. However, various agencies can be accredited to access the fund directly. We have already applied for a project to preserve the barrier reef and another to promote biomass use in the Caribbean. So, we have two projects in the pipeline through the Green Climate Fund which are valued at around US$20 million.

Do you think that the Paris and Marrakesh summits brought concrete results for the region?

We were very pleased with the outcome in Paris. The objectives that the Caribbean Community wanted were achieved: the limit for warming was set at 2°C; adaptation was considered along with mitigation; finance, technology transfer, and capacity building were included; and a compliance system was put in place. All the things that we wanted out of Paris, we achieved, and so we are very happy with that.

Peruse the complete Integration & Trade Journal: Volume 21

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.

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