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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

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.

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

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

Caribbean communities take on climate change

Children playing in the water at sunset in the harbour of St. George’s, Grenada, November 27, 2016. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

When powerful storms tear through the islands of the Caribbean, it’s often fishing families and famers in coastal villages who bear the brunt of flooding and damage – and it’s those same people who can help lead climate change adaptation, say experts.

Across the region, decision makers are realising a top-down approach isn’t always the way forward, and often those who live and work in high-risk areas – whether they grow coffee, run small businesses or work as tour guides – best understand the particular issues they face, and have ideas about how to tackle them.

Those local insights can positively shape policy at a national level in the climate-vulnerable tropical island nations, a discussion hosted by the Climate and Development Knowledge Network (CDKN) heard this week.

“It’s saying ‘this is a two-way street, a two-way conversation’,” said Will Bugler, a senior consultant at Acclimatise, who gave a rundown of Caribbean climate change adaptation tools and research.

But local efforts alone are not enough, and communities need strong links with regional and national governments so they can draw on their expertise, influence and spending power.

The problem is that linking up groups with different levels of understanding – and sometimes competing interests – can make hammering out climate resilience strategies a long and frustrating process, according to a report published by CDKN.

Today, a raft of sophisticated new technologies harnessing high-quality data on climate and weather patterns are being used to develop community vulnerability assessments and help companies, governments and development banks inject climate change resilience into their plans.

Sharon Lindo, policy advisor at the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC), said Grenada was one country now consulting CCORAL, an online tool highlighting climate change vulnerabilities, before making policy decisions. Some regional banks are using it as part of their risk assessment processes, she added.

“What that showed us was that just a small incremental cost makes the investment climate-resilient,” Lindo told the webinar.

DATA GAPS

While these tools can be used to track multiple scenarios – such as the chance of storm damage, drought or even dengue outbreaks – there are still gaps in the data, as some of the tiny islands scattered across the Caribbean lack comprehensive monitoring.

A planned project to install additional monitoring stations could start to fill in the picture, said Dr. Ulric Trotz, CCCCC’s Deputy Director and Science Advisor, who highlighted the need for well-documented environmental data to go with meteorological information.

“If we want to really target agriculture… and watershed management appropriately, we need to also have stations within areas on these smaller islands to really capture that data that can feed into the model and give a more robust analysis,” said Trotz.

And in climate-vulnerable countries, it seems you’re never too young to learn about the impact climate change may have on your future. A pilot project in Belize is trying to integrate climate change into the curriculum for schoolchildren, said Trotz.

“Individual countries could start initiatives in schools. We’re particularly keen on … introducing a system of school gardening right across the region,” he said.

With this, students could find out about new techniques like drip irrigation, greenhouse cultivation and aquaponics, he added.

Credit: Thomas Reuters Foundation News

Caribbean Climate Podcast: How can we reimagine climate finance? (audio)

Welcome to the inaugural edition of the Caribbean Climate Podcast, a series of interviews with climate change experts and activists about key issues and solutions. In this special edition we talk with Dr Ulric Trotz, Deputy Director and Science Advisor at the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre, about his bold proposal to re-orient climate financing.

Enjoy The Full Podcast

Enjoy The Podcast in Segments

Question 1: You recently proposed comprehensive changes to the way we approach climate change mitigation and adaptation in terms of climate financing, policy and programmes. What motivated this proposal?
 
Question 2: You point to inherent and consequential differences in Mitigation and Adaptation outcomes as the key reason for reimagining climate change responses.  Why is this so important for the Caribbean, and the world in general?
 
Question 3: You point to energy as principal entry point for private sector investment, what primes this sector to spur the critical changes you call for?
 
Question 4: You call for private sector engagement both locally and globally given the considerable risks and high costs associated with Adaptation that is often prohibitive for the private sector in the developing world alone. Why would the private sector, say in the United Kingdom, be interested in providing funds for Adaptation in Belize? Is this the same scenario with mitigation?
 
Question 5: Given that distinct difference, how do we re-imagine the allocation of climate change resources such as the US100 billion per year Green Climate Fund?
 
Question 6: Your proposal could transform the climate change response landscape and potentially heighten private sector interest and investment in “Mitigation” without GCF’s resources crowding out private funding. But how do we deal with Adaptation funding more broadly?
 

Dr Ulric Trotz: Let’s Re-imagine GCF Resources (article and interview)

Dr Ulric Trotz, Deputy Director and science Advisor at the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC), says  calls for a transformation of Green Climate Fund resources that could optimize and efficiently direct private investment and limited public resources. Peruse his proposal  below and listen to his exclusive interview on the inaugural edition of Caribbean Climate Podcast.

The inherent differences in the nature of Mitigation and Adaptation outcomes is consequential and should be a central feature of comprehensive climate change policy decisions, policies and programmes. While they both result in the production of a public good, that derived from mitigation (decreased carbon) is a global public good, and conversely, that derived from Adaptation is a local public good. Indeed, Adaptation is very country specific, hence the localized nature of the benefits derived therefrom. As a result, the product from Mitigation can be commoditised and traded on the local and/or global markets. This paves the way for international private sector entities, to identify profitable pro-environmental opportunities and invest in global action that facilitates Low Carbon Development (Mitigation). Mitigation’s ability to generate private sector opportunities distinguishes it from Adaptation. Even at the local level, Adaptation fails to attract private sector investment, because the local public good it produces is not a marketable commodity. By implication, Adaptation invariably warrants public sector intervention. Specifically, more robust public spending on infrastructure, healthier ecosystems, better health systems, etc. These crucial differences underscore the existence of a significantly more favourably global private sector investment environment for mitigation relative to Adaptation, the bulk of which will remain the responsibility of the public sector.

So significant and consequential is the divergent investment potential (public and private) of Adaptation and Mitigation, the UN Secretary General’s High Level Panel on Climate finance called for a significant proportion of the US$100 billion per year to be mobilized for the Green Climate Fund to come from the private sector. This private sector engagement must operate both locally and globally given the considerable risks and high costs associated with Adaptation that could prove prohibitive for the private sector in the developing world. Some observers view this approach skeptically, often wondering, why would the private sector, say in the United Kingdom, be interested in providing funds for Adaptation in Belize? These are highly plausible concerns, but the case for Mitigation is totally different. Unlike Adaptation, both local and foreign private sector capital can be mobilized for investment in mitigative actions in any part of the world. Building low carbon economies is the business of the future and lends itself to global investment. With this in view, I propose a re-imagination of GCF resource allocation.

Considering the unlikely flow of the necessary resources from the private sector for Adaptation purposes and a clear pro-environmental incentive for global and local private sector engagement through mitigation, most of the GCF allocation should be used to support adaptation actions. GCF resources should not be used to “implement” actual mitigation actions, namely renewables, efficiency measures, among others. I strongly suggest that GCF resources be used to help countries prepare an environment for robust mitigation efforts, such as energy transformation – policy and legislative reform – and also to prepare sound investment portfolios with full-fledged, costed and ready to implement proposals for the transformation of the energy sector. I imagine GCF resources being used to incentivize investment in these actions. The approach I have articulated will create an enabling landscape marked by a favourable investment climate, an incentivizing environment, and a preponderance of credible and ready to go transformational programmes. One can anticipate such a landscape to yield heightened private sector interest and investment in Mitigation without GCF’s resources crowding out private funding, while leaving crucial adaptation efforts – which does not readily attract private funding – largely underfunded. Put simply, the GCF should be reengineered to support Adaptation directly, create the environment for private sector investment in Mitigation, and leave actual implementation of the latter  to the private sector.

Dealing with Adaptation funding more broadly is a bit less straightforward, but, the “integration” of climate risks into national development planning and budgetary processes, as well as crafting a budgetary support modality as a mechanism for adaptation funding could result in some feasible solutions. How do we approach this integration when considering a reasonable modality for adaptation financing?  I propose that countries should “integrate” climate risk into national development plans and national budgets to access adaptation funding. This integration should include quantification of both the impact and additional costs of mitigating those impacts (Adaptation costs).

We in the Caribbean already have a tool to facilitate this integration – the Caribbean Climate Online Risk and Adaptation TooL (CCORAL) – that is adaptable to other contexts. Using this approach, the normal envisaged expenditure in the budget (e.g. upgrading a coastal road) becomes the country baseline contribution to the “adaptation package” (i.e. what the country would have spent in any case on that action). The incremental costs identified by the risk management analysis (Adaptation costs) can then be accessed from the GCF. The capacity building issue here then becomes mainly one of how countries gain the capacity to “integrate climate risk” into their national development plans and yearly budgetary processes. This allows countries to clearly define their national adaptation resource needs across all sectors. Once this is done, it is a question of the modalities for accessing these funds from the GCF, implementing, monitoring and reporting under the national umbrella. The essential point here is that this approach provides an avenue for channeling adaptation funds to countries, through a “budgetary support” process (by implication through the Ministry of Finance), and precludes the need for setting up a parallel external process for accessing and utilizing Adaptation funds in our countries that are already confronting challenges associated with scarce human resources.

CERMES Student Shares Research Experience

We have supported extensive field laboratory work for a contingent of students, faculty and support staff  from the Centre for Resource Management and Environmental Studies (CERMES), UWI Cave Hill over the past ten years. The field laboratories are held in Belize, one of the region’s most diverse ecological settings, and afford the students an opportunity to put into action the range of tools they are learning, and observe the relationships between scientific theory and the measurement of critical variables and parameters. The Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre looks forward to welcoming the 11th contingent of students in 2015!

Below is a summary of current CERMES MSc student Ryan Zuniga's reflection on his research experience. Ryan is now interning with the Centre.
Ryan Zuniga (left) interviewing two farmers

Ryan Zuniga (left) interviewing two farmers

After fulfilling the classroom requirements for my degree, I was anxious and excited to enter the world of
research. My topic; “Developing a Forest Fire Indicator for Southern Belize”, was selected after nine months of deliberation and several disregarded potential topics.

My research was to be carried out in conjunction with the Ya’axche Conservation Trust, an NGO that has been working in my study area (southern Belize) for several years. This NGO has been making numerous efforts to address several terrestrial environmental issues including poaching of endangered species found in their management area (Maya Golden Landscape), the sustainable use of forest resources by buffer communities and incidences of forest fires as a result of escaped agricultural fires known as milpa burning.

The data collection process commenced almost immediately after the proposal was approved. It was supported by the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) who had an interest in the research topic, and therefore gave me the opportunity to conduct my research as an intern at the Centre. Dr. Ulric Trotz , Deputy Director and Science Advisor of the Centre, was the overhead supervisor, and Mr. Earl Green, Project Manager, was my immediate project supervisor at the Centre.

The data required to carry out the study consists of three main parameters, meteorological data (humidity, daily maximum temperatures and precipitation), records of fire incidences and climate projections and modelled data for southern Belize.

The data collection process was filled with many “give up” moments and just as many “I can do this for the rest of my life” moments. However, what stood out to me the most is the hospitality that was shown to me by the people during the interview process. My interviews were focused on the farmers of the Maya villages in Southern Belize, namely Medina, Golden stream, Tambran and Indian Creek. By societal modern standards these farmers can be described as poor, or living at one step away from poverty. However, the farmers will tell you that difficult times or “hard life” as they refer to it are few and far in between for them. While working with them I was more often than not greeted with a smile, and a cup of home grown coffee, that welcomed me into their humble homes. Generally consisting of hammocks, a few plastic chairs and a wooden table these homes were filled with laughter and happiness. This experience I’m sure will stay with me for the rest of my career.

In the end I was only able to gather a fraction of the data that I had proposed, so much for that ground breaking research! However I was able to adopt an index that is identical to what I had hoped to achieve. The index was implemented by The Nature Conservancy (TNC)  in Trinidad and Tobago and was shared with me by TNC’s Director of Fire Management. Ya’axche has already pledged to provide the communities with the necessary equipment needed for the index to be used properly and be effective in reducing the incidences of escaped fires.

 Peruse the October 2014 edition of the CERMES Connections here.

Credit: CERMES Connections

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.

Optimism in The Virgin Islands about $50M per anum in funding to tackle Climate Change

Talking Climate Change (From L-R). Hon. Dr. Kedrick Pickering, Deputy Premier and Minister for Natural Resources and Labour; Mr. George de Berdt Romily, Climate Change Law and Policy Specialist at the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre; and Dr. Ulric Trotz, Deputy Director and Science Adviser Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre. Photo Credit: Gordon French/BVI Platinum News

Talking Climate Change (From L-R). Hon. Dr. Kedrick Pickering, Deputy Premier and Minister for Natural Resources and Labour; Mr. George de Berdt Romily, Climate Change Law and Policy Specialist at the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre; and Dr. Ulric Trotz, Deputy Director and Science Adviser Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre.
Photo Credit: Gordon French/BVI Platinum News

The Virgin Islands is said to be well ahead of most small-island developing states on the issue of climate change adaptation and in the coming months could have in place the framework to access millions to mitigate against the effects of those changes.

Some $50 million will be needed annually to cushion the effects of climate change which experts said has already started to manifest through sea level rise, unpredictable weather patterns and more intense hurricanes.

Deputy Premier and Minister of Natural Resources and Labour, Hon. Dr. Kedrick Pickering is leading the charge to ensure that residents are sensitized on the issue of climate change.

During the launch of the public awareness campaign yesterday, May 6, Dr. Pickering indicated that the Territory is currently setting up the climate change trust fund as the vehicle to access a portion of the billions the developed countries have set aside to help at-risk states.

However, the proposed legislative framework to establish the fund has to first get approval from Cabinet before it’s taken to the House of assembly for debate and subsequent passage.

Consultant, Mr. George de Berdt Romily, Climate Change Law and Policy Specialist at the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre noted that delaying the implementation of climate change adaptation plans will be more costly.

“We recognize that it is totally unrealistic to expect that the Virgin Islands can raise this additional $50 million from existing resources. There is a need to try and find how best we can raise these resources,” Mr. Romily stated.

He further explained, “There is also a commitment from the international community to finance the incremental cost associated with climate change. We do anticipate that once the trust fund is up and running, there will be contributions from international community to pay for the incremental costs. We hope to come close to the $50 million that is needed.”

He said the ability of the Virgin Islands to have continued access to international funds will depend on the Territory’s ability to operate the trust fund in a transparent manner and ensure the viability of the projects on the ground.

In May 2012, Cabinet approved the Virgin Islands Climate Change Adaptation Policy, but the funding is necessary to implement a number of the urgent priority climate change and disaster management programs.

Dr. Ulric Trotz, Deputy Director and Science Adviser, Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre has also been assisting the Territory in implement mitigation plans.

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