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Training Workshops conducted in Belize through partnership with NCCO, CCCCC, INSMET and UNDP

The Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) and its partner the Meteorological Institute (INSMET) in Cuba, conducted a series of training workshops between February 11 and March 14, 2019 to assist Belize with its National Communication to the United Nations Conference on Climate Change (UNFCCC) .
The trainings which culminated with a ‘Gender and Communication’ workshop, were held in collaboration with the National Climate Change Office (NCCO) from Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, Forestry, the Environment, Sustainable Development and Immigration in Belize and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) .

Gender and Communication

The two-day ‘Gender and Communication’ workshop was held from March 13 to 14, at the National Trade Show Grounds’ Agriculture Conference room in Belmopan City. It was facilitated by Mrs. Martha Fernandez, Information and Communication Specialist of the Cuban Institute of Marine Sciences (ICIMAR), and Dr. Elizabeth Miranda, Senior Professor in the Latin American Faculty for Social Sciences (FLACSO), University of Havana. The workshop aimed to build the capacity of Technical Officers from the sectors involved in the 4th National Communication by looking at the various gender integrated approaches, communication strategies and communicative products that were utilized by Cuba’s Third National Communication that can be taken into account for Belize’s National Communication.

Participants of the Gender and Communication workshop

Climate Modelling Consultation Meetings for Agriculture, Water, Coastal Zone and Fisheries Sectors

Climate Modelling consultation and meetings were also held with officers in the agriculture, water, coastal zone and fisheries departments of the Belize government. These meetings were held by the Centre in partnership with the Cuban Institute of Meteorology (INSMET), the National Climate Change Office (NCCO) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and ran from February 26 to March 1, 2019.
The meetings which were held in the Centre’s training room focused on determining the climate modelling data needs for key sectors such as the Water, Agriculture, Coastal Zone and Fisheries sectors to produce sector-specific climate impact maps.
These sectors will be investigated as part of Belize’s Sector-Based Vulnerability and Adaptation Assessment which is to be conducted under Belize’s Fourth National Communication and First Biennial Update Report to the UNFCCC Project which is being implemented by the NCCO. The sessions, included consultation with stakeholders and personnel within a sector.

A subsequent meeting was held on Friday, March 8, 2019 at the NEMO conference room in Belmopan to build Belize’s capacity and increase the country’s knowledge about climate change to build resilience.
Dr. Arnoldo Bezamilla Morlot and Dr. Abel Centella from INSMET, Cuba shared the climate models they developed for the fisheries, water, coastal zone and agriculture sectors based on the previous planning sessions. The meeting concluded with review, feedback and discussion of the outputs of the climate modelling exercise.


4th National Communication Workshop

On February 20, 2019, a “National Communication Partnership Workshop” facilitated by Dr. Eduardo Planos, Director for Cuba’s 3rd National Communication, from INSMET and Dr. Abel Centella, Director of INSMET, was held at the George Price Center for Peace and Development in Belmopan City.
The workshop was intended to build the capacity of technical officers from the various relevant Government Ministries and Departments in the area of coastal zone and sea level by focusing on measurement tools, statistical analysis and modelling methods, and community engagement. The workshop was carried out as part of the Fourth National Communication and First Biennial Update Report Project to the United National Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) which is being implemented by the National Climate Change Office (NCCO) to supplement existing national activities geared towards building Belize’s Climate Resilience.

The workshop was attended by 14 representatives from Institutions including the National Meteorology Service, National Climate Change Office, CCCCC, Ministry of Housing and Urban Development, Ministry of Public Works, National Emergency Management Organization (NEMO), Fisheries Department and National Hydrological Service (NHS).


Coastal Zone, Sea Level Rise, and Related Processes Capacity Building Workshop

Dr. Marcelino Hernández Gonzalez, Cuban Coastal Zone Expert in session

The four-day capacity building “Coastal Zone, Sea Level Rise, and Related Processes” workshop facilitated by Dr. Marcelino Hernández Gonzalez, Cuban Coastal Zone Expert, was held during the period of February 11 – 14 , 2019, at the Coastal Zone Management Authority and Institute’s Conference Room in Belize City. It was made possible through the collaboration of the Centre, NCCO, UNDP and Cuba’s Institute for Marine Sciences (ICIMAR). The purpose of the workshop was to build the capacity of technical officers from the various relevant Government Ministries and Departments on the area of coastal zone and sea level by focusing on measurement tools, statistical analysis and modelling methods, and community engagement. The workshop was carried out as part of the Fourth National Communication and First Biennial Update Report Project to the United National Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) which is being implemented by the National Climate Change Office (NCCO) to supplement existing national activities geared towards building Belize Climate Resilience.

Participants with their certificates

For more information about the training workshops, contact: Mr. Ahnivar Peralta at aperalta@caribbeanclimate.bz.



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.

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

Japan and UNDP launch climate change project in eight Caribbean countries

undp_japan.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Credit: Caribbean News Now

Antigua Faces Climate Risks with Ambitious Renewables Target

Ruth Spencer is a pioneer in the field of solar energy. She promotes renewable technologies to communities throughout her homeland of Antigua and Barbuda, playing a small but important part in helping the country achieve its goal of a 20-percent reduction in the use of fossil fuels by 2020.

She also believes that small non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have a crucial role to play in the bigger projects aimed at tackling the problems caused by the burning of fossil fuels, such as coal, oil and gas.

Spencer, who serves as National Focal Point for the Global Environment Facility (GEF)-Small Grants Programme (SGP) in Antigua and Barbuda, has been at the forefront of an initiative to bring representatives of civil society, business owners and NGOs together to educate them about the dangers posed by climate change.

“The GEF/SGP is going to be the delivery mechanism to get to the communities, preparing them well in advance for what is to come,” she told IPS.

The GEF Small Grants Programme in the Eastern Caribbean is administered by the United Nations office in Barbados.

“Since climate change is heavily impacting the twin islands of Antigua and Barbuda, it is important that we bring all the stakeholders together,” said Spencer, a Yale development economist who also coordinates the East Caribbean Marine Managed Areas Network funded by the German government.

“The coastal developments are very much at risk and we wanted to share the findings of the IPCC report with them to let them see for themselves what all these scientists are saying,” Spencer told IPS.

“We are in a small island so we have to build synergies, we have to network, we have to partner to assist each other. By providing the information, they can be aware and we are going to continue doing follow up….so together we can tackle the problem in a holistic manner,” she added.

Power lines in Antigua. The Caribbean country is taking steps to achieve energy security through clean technologies. Credit: Desmond Brown/IPS

Power lines in Antigua. The Caribbean country is taking steps to achieve energy security through clean technologies. Credit: Desmond Brown/IPS

The United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has sent governments a final draft of its synthesis report, which paints a harsh picture of what is causing global warming and what it will do to humans and the environment. It also describes what can be done about it.

Ruleta Camacho, project coordinator for the sustainable island resource management mechanism within Antigua and Barbuda’s Ministry of the Environment, told IPS there is documented observation of sea level rise which has resulted in coastal erosion and infrastructure destruction on the coastline.

She said there is also evidence of ocean acidification and coral bleaching, an increase in the prevalence of extreme weather events – extreme drought conditions and extreme rainfall events – all of which affect the country’s vital tourism industry.

“The drought and the rainfall events have impacts on the tourism sector because it impacts the ancillary services – the drought affects your productivity of local food products as well as your supply of water to the hotel industry,” she said.

“And then you have the rainfall events impacting the flooding so you have days where you cannot access certain sites and you have flood conditions which affect not only the hotels in terms of the guests but it also affects the staff that work at the hotels. If we get a direct hit from a storm we have significant instant dropoff in the productivity levels in the hotel sector.”

Antigua and Barbuda, which is known for its sandy beaches and luxurious resorts, draws nearly one million visitors each year. Tourism accounts for 60 to 75 percent of the country’s gross domestic product, and employs nearly 90 percent of the population.

Like Camacho, Ediniz Norde, an environment officer, believes sea level rise is likely to worsen existing environmental stresses such as a scarcity of freshwater for drinking and other uses.

“Many years ago in St. John’s we had seawater intrusion all the way up to Tanner Street. It cut the street in half. It used to be a whole street and now there is a big gutter running through it, a ship was lodged in Tanner Street,” she recalled.

“Now it only shows if we have these levels of sea water rising that this is going to be a reality here in Antigua and Barbuda,” Norde told IPS. “This is how far the water can get and this is how much of our environment, of our earth space that we can lose in St. John’s. It’s a reality that we won’t be able to shy away from if we don’t act now.”

As the earth’s climate continues to warm, rainfall in Antigua and Barbuda is projected to decrease, and winds and rainfall associated with episodic hurricanes are projected to become more intense. Scientists say these changes would likely amplify the impact of sea level rise on the islands.

But Camacho said climate change presents opportunities for Antigua and Barbuda and the country must do its part to implement mitigation measures.

She explained that early moves towards mitigation and building renewable energy infrastructure can bring long-term economic benefits.

“If we retrain our population early enough in terms of our technical expertise and getting into the renewable market, we can actually lead the way in the Caribbean and we can offer services to other Caribbean countries and that’s a positive economic step,” she said.

“Additionally, the quicker we get into the renewable market, the lower our energy cost will be and if we can get our energy costs down, it opens us for economic productivity in other sectors, not just tourism.

“If we can get our electricity costs down we can have financial resources that would have gone toward your electricity bills freed up for improvement of the [tourism] industry and you can have a better product being offered,” she added.

Credit: IPS

5Cs explores partnership with universities

CCCCC partnership with Universities

CCCCC Deputy Director and Science Advisor Dr Ulric Troz with the USF delegation

Christy Prouty, a Ph.D. student in Environmental Engineering at the University of South Florida, reflects on her recent visit to Belize and the 5Cs offices in Belmopan, Belize. Her area of research includes systems dynamics modeling which is used to understand the behavior of complex systems over time.  She also enjoys internationally-focused research in water and sanitation.

Climate change, sea level rise, community perceptions, drinking water, sanitation, coastal erosion, water quality monitoring, coral reef degradation, nutrient management, STEM education, and community capacity building— these were some of the topics discussed last month (June 6, 2014) during a meeting between the Caribbean Community Climate Change Center (5Cs) and a team of researchers affiliated with the University of South Florida’s Partnership for International Research and Education (USF PIRE) grant. During the introductions, the 5Cs shared insights about their field data and the ways it informed climate change models for predicting impacts across Central America and the Caribbean; the USF group gave an overview of the themes, interdisciplinary nature, existing international partners, and plans for future collaborations within the PIRE grant.

Dr Maya Trotz and Dr Rebecca Zarger of USF articulately described the PIRE themes in Belize as they discussed the integrated anthropology and engineering research that is underway throughout the Placencia Peninsula. One activity, in particular, was highlighted because it demonstrated a way for a University of Belize (UB) student to work alongside USF’s team in the field. The UB student studies sustainable tourism whereas the USF students are working in local schools to build capacity around issues of water and sanitation.  Synergies exist as each group seeks to connect with local partners on issues concerning sustainability. In addition, the 5Cs and USF researchers discussed the Monkey River area, a decade-long field site for the University of the West Indies (UWI) Cave Hill’s CERMES program. The 5Cs’ own Mr. Earl Green, project officer, and Dr. Ulric Trotz, science advisor and deputy director, actually took some of the USF team there the next day to explore connections with the Placencia research site. Angel Navidad, the 2013 Sagicor Visionaries Challenge winner and his teacher Mrs. Shakira Gonsalez also joined the meeting.

The group brainstormed ideas about potential ways to collaborate (5Cs, USF, and UB) for future proposals so as to leverage the skills of each institution, foster knowledge sharing among partners, and build a holistic/well-rounded research team.  Between the 5Cs’ expertise (an understanding of climate change impacts and modeling), USF’s best attributes (interdisciplinary work between engineering and anthropology), and the skills unique to the UB students and faculty (in-depth expertise of resources management/local contexts and access to research data), a cohesive partnership seems to be on the horizon. Should this combined research happen, all of the university students would benefit from the opportunity to work alongside their peers from different backgrounds, cultural identities, and academic fields, thus building their global and professional competencies. The 2014 Sagicor Visionaries Challenge also provides an opportunity for all of these institutions to connect with secondary school students in Belize as mentors for their innovative projects.

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