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A blue urban agenda: adapting to climate change in the coastal cities of Caribbean and Pacific small island developing states

Cities in Small Island Developing States (SIDS) have leveraged nearly US$800 million in green climate funding to support coastal resilience, says a new Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) report.

The study, A Blue Urban Agenda: Adapting to Climate Change in the Coastal Cities of Caribbean and Pacific Small Island Developing States, estimates that 4.2 million people in SIDS in the Caribbean and in the Pacific are living in areas that are prone to flooding due to rising sea levels. As a result the region has now become a reference for other port cities.

“Mayors in port cities across the globe should be cognisant of the enormous economic costs and implications of sea level rise, hurricanes and coastal storms to port infrastructure,” Michelle Mycoo, co-author of the report, told Cities Today. “Mayors will need to consider a mix of strategies such as higher investments in robust coastal defences, alternative future upgrading and expansion plans such as retreating from the coast and relocation of storage areas for container cargo further inland.”

The international community has responded by providing US$55.6 billion in aid and private sector flows to Caribbean and Pacific SIDS over the last 20 years. These programmes have included coastal engineering to protect cities from flooding and coastal erosion, wetland restoration, coral reef conservation and watershed rehabilitation, urban planning and the enforcement of coastal setbacks and flood-resistant building codes.

“The urban planning profession clearly needs to pursue a Blue Urban Agenda and build cities that respond to their shores and the needs of coastal residents,” said Michael Donovan, co-author and Housing & Urban Development Senior Specialist, IDB.

The study reviewed 50 projects financed by the IDB, World Bank, Asian Development Bank and others, and the efforts made by Caribbean and Pacific SIDS to implement adaptation strategies aimed at reducing vulnerability and enhancing sustainability. It shows an increasing emphasis on urban governance and institutional capacity building within city planning agencies.

It includes several policy recommendations for cities, including improving coastal planning, land reclamation, coastal setbacks, enforcement of building codes, climate-proofing infrastructure, mangrove reforestation, and coastal surveying and monitoring.

“Adapting and improving the resilience of cities in coastal zones of SIDS, especially those experiencing rapid urbanisation, remains critical,” added Donovan. “Caribbean and Pacific coastal cities are on the front lines of the response to climate change and are pioneering innovative approaches to respond to coastal transformation. All eyes are on these islands as port cities across the world look for answers to the coastal question.”

Credit: Cities Today

Climate-health security in the Caribbean: an analysis

With a diverse topography and vulnerability to natural and human-made shocks, Editor John Kirton discusses how the Caribbean is exploring options to establish climate-health security with Dr C James Hospedales

Dr C JamesHospedales, Executive Director, Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA). Photo Credit: St. Lucia News Online

Q - How do the Caribbean’s distinctive features make it vulnerable to climate change?

A – With 30 diverse countries and territories and more than 40 million people, the Caribbean comprises most of the world’s small island developing states (SIDS), places of extraordinary beauty and vulnerability to natural and human-made shocks, none more so than climate change. With more than 50 million arrivals per year, by air and cruise, it is the most tourism-dependent region in the world. But the industry is vulnerable to damage by climate change. The Caribbean oceanic basin is trapping warming and increasingly acidic waters, with unprecedented coral reef bleaching and die-offs and impacts on food and economic security. It is experiencing increasingly intense and frequent extreme weather events. Floods from heavy rainfall combined with rising sea levels create immediate emergency health relief needs, damage health centres and hospitals, and increase the risk of epidemics. Climate-sensitive disease vectors such as Aedes aegypti mosquitoes carry dengue and Zika. As temperatures rise, they are increasing in density and their ability to spread disease. Zika shows the intergenerational and cross-border costs this can bring: there is now local transmission of the virus in southern Florida. The Caribbean’s largely middle-income countries are ineligible for many of the development and climate change control funding available only to low-income countries. Yet their capacity to respond is low because of their very small size.

Q - How have these vulnerabilities inspired the Caribbean to pioneer solutions?

A – The Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) was established in 2005. The Pan American Health Organization’s ‘SMART Hospitals’ programme to build resilience to the effects of climate change is a good contribution. The Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) recently launched the Expert Panel on Climate and Health with Tulane University to analyse, control and prevent the impact on human health and the environment. The Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility (CCRIF) was created in 2007 to help countries manage the economic risks of increasingly frequent hurricanes. Its work was endorsed by the G7 leaders at their summit in 2015. Discussions are under way to expand the coverage to include associated health effects of extreme weather events. Greening the CARPHA campus is another initiative to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and reduce energy costs.

Q - What more could the Caribbean do?

A The Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association could work with regional institutions to rank how tourism facilities perform on integrated environmental and health standards. Cities of the Caribbean could be encouraged to join the C40 and ask it to address health effects and economic impacts in a broader and more integrated way. The Expert Panel calls for promoting alternative transport such as biking and walking, with links to the tourism industry, with triple bottom line returns. The Caribbean could create an integrated annual state-of-the environment-and-health report. This need for a joined-up set of information is a key recommendation of the Caribbean Development Bank on water as a strategic regional resource. Caribbean institutions could work more closely with the International Seabed Authority and UN Environment’s Caribbean Office – both headquartered in Kingston, Jamaica – to increase bidirectional learning about the health effects of climate change.

Q - How can the G7 leaders at their Taormina Summit best help?

A – G7 leaders could recognise the unique shared interests of the G7 and the G20 in the Caribbean – given the region’s location between North and South America, closely connecting independent countries with territories dependent on the United States, United Kingdom and the Netherlands, and parts of France through travel and trade. They could work with the region’s institutions to implement a G7/G20- CARICOM project to address health, climate and the environment in pursuit of the Sustainable Development Goals. They could recognise the Caribbean’s contributions beyond the CCRIF, and create a global risk insurance facility based on a more comprehensive and integrated concept of climate-associated risks that incorporate their many health effects. They could invite Caribbean leaders to attend the next G7 summit, in Canada in 2018, as was done for Jamaica and Haiti when Canada last hosted in 2010. They could institutionalise a regular dialogue between the G7 and Caribbean institutions responsible for health and climate change, starting with regular preand post-summit briefings. They could create an emergency response and surge capacity fund that can be drawn on by regional institutions such as CARPHA to address the health effects of climate change.

Peruse the complete G7 publication here.

Caribbean Urban Forum to Enhance Regional Urban Planning

The Belize City Council partnered with the Belize Association of Planners and the Caribbean Network for Urban Land Management to host the seventh annual Caribbean Urban Forum (CUF 7) in Belize City at the Radisson Fort George Hotel, on May 17th – 19th, 2017.

The Caribbean Urban Forum (CUF) is designed to address specific policy issues within the Caribbean urban sector by bringing together land use practitioners, policy makers, academics and allied professionals interested in enhancing urban planning and management in the Region.

Students of Wesley College and Bernice Yorke Institute of Learning

The Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) was invited to participate in the Urban Expo, scheduled for days two and three, May 18th & 19th, of the CUF at the Memorial Park in Belize City, under the theme ‘Green Economy, Energy and Space-Pathways to Urban Sustainability.

(L-R) Troy Smith, Valuations Manager, Belize City Council; Michael Theus, Councilor for Economic Development; Darrell Bradley, Mayor of Belize City; Ralston Frazer, Deputy Mayor of Belmopan City and Dr. Cassandra Rogers, Country Representation, Inter-American Development Bank

Dr. Cassandra Rogers, Country Representative of the Inter-American Development Bank, expressed her desire to see “cities growing in a very smart and sustainable way.”

Dr. Cassandra Rogers, Country Representative, Inter-American Development Bank (IDB)

“The Belize City Council and IDB’s Action Plan involves critical investments to solve some of the development issues that were identified in the vulnerability studies. [We are planning] sustainable cities that are resilient to natural disasters and climate change”, states Dr. Rogers.

Deputy Mayor of Belmopan City, Ralston Frazer, encouraged all in attendance to work together and join the group that is not doing the talking but doing the work.

Ralston Frazer, Deputy Mayor of Belmopan City

He stated, “We have the responsibility to make this place as beautiful as we can make it in, so that we can have appreciation for it. Urban planners make cities beautiful and orderly.”

Mayor Darrell Bradley of Belize City emphasized that with the right partnerships, we can build the kind of communities that we want to see.

Mayor Darrell Bradley, Belize City Council

“Urban planning is a means of promoting cities that offers opportunities at the highest level… Climate change is the reason our lands are eroding, climate change is the reason our sea does the abundance of marine life it once had. We want to build a Belize that fosters sustainable growth and develop and one resilient to climate change.”

Peruse photo album of the Caribbean Urban Forum’s Expo here:

 

The seventh annual Caribbean Urban Forum (CUF 7)

CCCCC at Bonn Climate Change Talks

Delegates gather for the first day of the Bonn Climate Change Conference. Photo Credit: IISD

On May 10, 2017, Dr. Ulric Trotz, Deputy Director and Science Advisor at the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) will share the reasons behind the Caribbean’s decision to support the campaign to keep global temperature rise at 1.5 degree, as an expert at the Research Dialogue in Bonn, Germany.

Dr. Ulric Trotz, Deputy Director and Science Advisor, CCCCC

Dr Trotz was invited to the Climate Talks in response to the call for the scientific community to provide information about the differences between 1.5 and two-degrees change in future temperatures, and the effects on climate change. One of the objectives of the Paris Agreement -signed by 195 countries in 2016- is to limit global warming to limit it to 1.5 degrees instead of the two degrees that has been proposed. The Caribbean and other small island states are proposed the former, because many small island states are already experiencing climate change and at two degrees, many others would be inundated by rising seas.

Mr. Carlos Fuller, International and Regional Liaison Officer, CCCCC and Chair of the SBSTA. Photo Credit: IISD

Mr Carlos Fuller, International and Regional Liaison Officer of the Centre is also attending the Talks as a member of the Belize delegation. He is currently the Chair of the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advise (SBSTA) which is convening its 46th session.

The Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI) and the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Paris Agreement (APA) are also holding their sessions in Bonn. The focus of these Climate Change Talks is to further the implementation of the Paris Agreement by drafting the so-called “rulebook” to guide its implementation.

Application of the ‘rulebook’ will require decisions on the transparency reporting guidelines, accounting, cooperative approaches of both market and non-market natures, nationally determined contributions (NDCs), and their means of implementation which include the provision and reporting of finance provided and received, technology development and transfer and capacity building. The standing issues on the SBSTA and SBI agendas are also being considered which include issues related to adaptation, mitigation, agriculture, land use change and forestry and response measures.

The Centre also organized a side event on May 8 to showcase its collaboration as part of a consortium to provide advice on the development of the transparency framework under the Paris Agreement.

The Bonn Climate Change Talks commenced on Monday 8 May and will conclude on Thursday 18 May. The talks will set the stage for the 23rd Conference of the Parties (COP 23) which will be convened in Bonn in November. COP 23 will be held under the Presidency of Fiji and will mark the first occasion in which a Small Island Developing State (SIDS) holds the Presidency of the COP.

CCORAL Training Workshop for Antigua and Barbuda

Caribbean Climate Online Risk and Adaptation TooL (CCORAL) Infographic

PRESS RELEASE – Belmopan, Belize; May 5, 2017 – The Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) in partnership with the United States Agency for International Development/ Eastern and Southern Caribbean (USAID/ESC) under the USAID Climate Change Adaptation Program (USAID CCAP) are hosting a Caribbean Climate Online Risk and Adaptation Tool (CCORAL) Training Workshop in Antigua and Barbuda on May 8th – 12th at the Department of Environment Conference Room.

CCORAL, is an online climate risk management tool that guides developers to include best-practises, strategies and systems into development planning that will ensure that across the region, there is 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 non-governmental organisations, 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.

The USAID CCAP being implemented by the CCCCC commits US$25.6 million over four (4) years to boost climate resilient development and reduce climate change induced risks to human and natural assets in ten (10) countries. The beneficiary countries are Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, St. Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, and Suriname.

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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CCCCC, KfW and IUCN Visit CPCCA Projects In Jamaica

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

PRESS RELEASE – Belmopan, Belize; May 4, 2017 – Senior officers from the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) are meeting in Jamaica with counterparts from the German Development Bank (KfW) and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) for discussions on a regional Coastal Protection for Climate Change Adaptation (CPCCA) Project being implemented in four Caribbean States.

The teams will be on the island between May 8 and 17 to have talks with grantees and partner organisations, and to visit the four sites that have been approved for funding support under the project for the Local Adaptation Measures (LAMs) aimed at improving the ability of vulnerable communities to withstand the impacts of Climate Change.

The CPCCA Project is being implemented by the CCCCC also called the 5Cs, with technical support from IUCN and with €12.9 million in grant funding from the KfW. It seeks to minimise the adverse impacts from climate change by restoring the protective services offered by natural eco-systems like coastal mangrove forests and coral reefs in some areas while restoring and building man-made structures such as groynes and revetments in others.

The LAMs projects in Jamaica are being managed by a mix of non-governmental and government institutions. Participating organisations are the Urban Development Corporation (UDC) in Montego Bay, the University of the West Indies Centre for Marine Sciences (UWI-CMS), for the East Portland Fish Sanctuary; the Caribbean Coastal Area Management Foundation (C-CAM), for the Portland Bight Protected Area; and the Westmoreland Municipal Corporation, in the Negril Environmental Protected Area.

The Jamaican project areas of the Portland Bight and Negril Environmental Protected Areas, East Portland Fish Sanctuary, and the Closed Harbour also called ‘Dump-up’

Beach in Montego Bay, are four of the 16 areas being targeted in the Caribbean. The other 12 projects are being rolled out in Grenada, Saint Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

While in Jamaica, the teams will pay a courtesy call on Hon. Daryl Vaz, Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, with responsibility for the Land, Environment, Climate Change and Investment at Jamaica House on Tuesday, May 9. The team is also scheduled to tour the Portland Bight Protected Area on Wednesday, May 10, and are guests at UDC’s launch of the Montego Bay Project on Friday, May 12, 2017.

Peruse the JAMAICA PROJECT INFORMATION KfW

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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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Climate Change and Food Security Institute launched

One of Guyana’s oldest training institutions, the Critchlow Labour College (CLC), has moved to establish the Guyana Climate Change and Food Security Institute (GCCFSI) and the Centre for Agricultural and Environmental Studies (CAES) to afford Guyanese the opportunity to get involved in agriculture.

Academic Director and Head of the Institute, Bissasar Chintamanie, said on Sunday that following a review of its programmes, the CLC decided to offer more specific and relevant training for the agricultural sector – training opportunities that are demand-driven.

He said the GCCFSI would aim to provide innovative and effective scientific contributions to reduce hunger and poverty, and achieve food security.

“Using a multidisciplinary approach through teaching, the GCCFSI will conduct research and provide policy advice in cooperation with national and international development organisations and partner with higher education institutes in the developing world,” Chintamanie explained.

Academic Director and CLC Centre for Agricultural and Environmental Studies Head, Bissasar Chintamanie

According to him, the institute will also help Guyanese realise their full potential to create wealth, while contributing to environmental conservation efforts.

Starting September, the college will be offering the following courses: Certificate in Sustainable Agriculture, Certificate in Sustainable Forestry, Certificate in Fisheries and Aquaculture, Certificate in Sustainable Mining, and a Master of Science/Post-Graduate Diploma in Food Security and Climate Change.

Chintamanie said the teaching of these courses was organised in modules, ranging in number from 12 to 16. The delivery of materials will take a variety of forms, including lectures, classes, seminars and group exercises.

“Assessment is modular and involves coursework and examinations. Classes are arranged in all three counties of Guyana. The nature of the assessment is determined by the objective of each programme and the aims of the modules,” he further explained.

According to Chintamanie, the new courses will provide students with the skills and tools for developing agricultural and environmental practices, policies, and measures to address the challenges that global warming posed to agriculture, food security, and the environment worldwide.

“These courses will provide students with a detailed understanding of the principles and processes of sustainable agriculture, sustainable forestry, sustainable aquaculture, sustainable mining, and climate change, including its social and environmental impacts,” he added.

It will also equip students who already have work experience in the sectors to implement the latest research in sustainable systems thinking, and will facilitate cutting-edge careers for those who want to enter the agricultural and environmental fields.

Chintamanie told this publication that with a per capita shrinking of agricultural resources, the task would be enormous, to maintain and upgrade the skills and competencies of the local labour force in order to overcome the predicted challenges of increased production and productivity of the sector.

“The sector needs to increase its human resource capabilities in different fields through the development of skills and capacities, as well as enhanced knowledge and information exchange between the actors involved in innovation, including farmers and their organisations,” he asserted.

Agriculture remains the mainstay of the rural populations and the most dominant of the country’s economic sectors, followed by mining. It has been a major contributor to Gross Domestic Product (GDP); exports; direct and indirect employment; and rural transformation in Guyana.

It is the source of livelihood for nearly 38 per cent of the population and contributes about 20 per cent of the GDP.

Persons who wish to inquire about the courses as well as admission requirements could make contact with the CLC on 1-592-226-2483.

Credit: iNews Guyana

Caribbean Rolls Out Plans to Reduce Climate Change Hazards

Dr. Mark Bynoe, senior environment and resource economist with the Belize-based Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC). Credit: Desmond Brown/IPS

Dr. Mark Bynoe, senior environment and resource economist with the Belize-based Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC). Credit: Desmond Brown/IPS

Climate change remains inextricably linked to the challenges of disaster risk reduction (DRR). And according to the head of the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR), Robert Glasser, the reduction of greenhouse gases is “the single most urgent global disaster risk treatment”.

Glasser was addressing the Fifth Regional Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) in the Americas. Held recently in Montreal, the gathering included more than 1,000 delegates from 50 countries, including the Caribbean.

“We recognise that reducing greenhouse gas emissions is arguably the single most urgent global disaster risk treatment, because without those efforts our other efforts to reduce many hazards and the risks those pose to communities would be overwhelmed over the longer term,” Glasser said.

The conference, hosted by the Canadian government in cooperation with UNISDR marked the first opportunity for governments and stakeholders of the Americas to discuss and agree on a Regional Action Plan to support the implementation of the Sendai Framework for DRR 2015-2030.

The Sendai Framework is the first major agreement of the post-2015 development agenda, with seven targets and four priorities for action. It was endorsed by the UN General Assembly following the 2015 Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (WCDRR). The Framework is a 15-year, voluntary non-binding agreement which recognises that the state has the primary role to reduce disaster risk but that responsibility should be shared with other stakeholders including local government, the private sector and other stakeholders.

“The regional plan of action you will adopt . . . will help and guide national and local governments in their efforts to strengthen the links between the 2030 agenda for Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk Reduction as national and local DRR strategies are developed and further refined in line with the Sendai Framework priorities over the next four years,” Glasser said.

The Caribbean is a minute contributor to global greenhouse gas emissions but will be among the most severely impacted.

The region is already experiencing its impacts with more frequent extreme weather events such as the 2013 rain event in the Eastern Caribbean, extreme drought across the region with severe consequences in several countries; the 2005 flooding in Guyana and Belize in 2010.

Inaction for the Caribbean region is very costly. An economic analysis focused on three areas – increased hurricane damages, loss of tourism revenue and infrastructure – revealed damages could cost the region 10.7 billion dollars by 2025. That’s more than the combined Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of all the member countries of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS).

At the Montreal conference, Head of the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) Ronald Jackson was a panelist in a forum discussing the linkages between disaster risk reduction, climate change and sustainable development. He said the region needs to marry its indigenous solutions to disaster risk management with modern technology.

“We’ve recognised that in the old days, our fore parents…had to deal with flood conditions and they survived them very well. There were simple things in terms of how they pulled their beds and other valuables out of the flood space in the house in particular. This contributed to their surviving the storms with minimal loss,” Jackson said.

“That knowledge of having to face those adverse conditions and surviving them and coping through them and being able to bounce back to where they were before, that was evident in our society in the past. It has subsequently disappeared.”

CDEMA is a regional inter-governmental agency for disaster management in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM). The Agency was established in 1991 with primary responsibility for the coordination of emergency response and relief efforts to participating states that require such assistance.

Another regional agency, the Belize-based Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) is collaborating with other agencies on the Caribbean Risk Management Initiative (CRMI).

The CRMI aims to provide a platform for sharing the experiences and lessons learned between different sectors across the Caribbean in order to facilitate improved disaster risk reduction.

“We see disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation as two sides of the same coin because to the extent we are able to enhance disaster risk reduction we are also beginning to adapt to climate change,” Dr. Mark Bynoe, the CCCCC’s senior environment and resource economist said.

He explained that there are a range of activities carried out specifically in terms of climate adaptation that will also have a disaster risk reduction element.

“We are looking at enhancing water security within a number of our small island states. One of the things we are focusing on there is largely to produce quality water through the use of reverse osmosis systems but we’re utilizing a renewable energy source. So, on the one hand we are also addressing adaptation and mitigation.”

Meantime, CCCCC’s Deputy Director Dr. Ulric Trotz said the agency is rolling out a series of training workshops in 10 countries to share training tools that were developed with the aim of assisting in the generation of scientific information and analysis to help in making informed decisions. These include the Weather Generator (WG), the Tropical Storm Model/ Simple Model for the Advection of Storms and Hurricanes (SMASH), and the Caribbean Drought Assessment Tool (CARiDRO).

The training will target key personnel whose focus are in areas of agriculture, water resources, coastal zone management, health, physical planning or disaster risk reduction.

“The CARIWIG [Caribbean Weather Impacts Group] tool is a critical tool in that it more or less localizes the projection so that for instance, you can actually look at climate projections for the future in a watershed in St. Kitts and Nevis. It localizes that information and it makes it much more relevant to the local circumstance,” said Dr. Trotz.

Training and application of the tools will allow decision-makers to better understand the potential impacts of drought, tropical storms, and rainfall and temperature changes. When combined with other data and information, they can help to build a picture of potential impacts to key economic sectors in the various countries.

Credit: Inter Press Service News Agency

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

Intensive Training Continues In An Effort To Increase Awareness Of The Impacts Of Climate Change

(L-R) Dr. Ulric Trotz, Deputy Director and Science Advisor, Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre with June Hughes, Senior Environment Officer at the Department of Environment,

The Department of Environment recognizes climate variability and climate change to be two of the most significant threats to sustainable development in St. Kitts and Nevis. Against this backdrop, a number of persons from various fields throughout the federation are currently attending an eight day National Training Workshop in the Use of Climate Models for Decision Making.

The workshop, which runs from April 19-28, is held under the auspices of the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

June Hughes, Senior Environment Officer at the Department of Environment, said that the training is timely, as climate change continues to be a clear and present danger. She noted that the department is working closely with regional and international partners to ensure that persons are aware of the dangers that exist.

“We in the Department of Environment have been working to raise awareness on the impacts of climate change, while taking advantage of every capacity building opportunity to improve our adaptive response have strengthened our mitigation measures,” she said. “Each training, workshop and meeting strengthens our country to address and reduce the impacts of climate change.”

Dr. Ulric Trotz, Deputy Director and Science Advisor at CCCCC, explained that the workshop would first be rolled out nationally in all 10 countries under the USAID banner, after which regional workshops will be held. He made mention of specific training tools that were developed with the aim of assisting in the generation of scientific information and analysis to help in making informed decisions. These include the Weather Generator (WG), the Tropical Storm Model/ Simple Model for the Advection of Storms and Hurricanes (SMASH), and the Caribbean Drought Assessment Tool (CARiDRO).

“The CARIWIG [Caribbean Weather Impacts Group] tool is a critical tool in that it more or less localizes the projection so that for instance, you can actually look at climate projections for the future in a watershed in St. Kitts and Nevis. It localizes that information and it makes it much more relevant to the local circumstance,” said Dr. Trotz.

The deputy executive director encouraged participants to acquire all the knowledge necessary, as it is the presenters hope that at the end of the training “a cadre of technical skills” would be developed in St. Kitts and Nevis and the region on whole that would help to deal successfully with the challenges faced from climate change.

Training and application of the tools will allow decision-makers to better understand the potential impacts of drought, tropical storms, and rainfall and temperature changes. When combined with other data and information, they can help to build a picture of potential impacts to key economic sectors in the country. The training will target key personnel whose focus are in areas of agriculture, water resources, coastal zone management, health, physical planning or disaster risk reduction.

 Credit: ZIZ Online
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