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Japan and UNDP launch climate change project in eight Caribbean countries

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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

One Fish Two Fish, No Fish: Rebuilding of Fish Stocks Urgently Needed

A major new study has revealed that the global seafood catch is much larger and declining much faster than previously known.

Around the world, subsidized fishing fleets from Europe, China and Japan have depleted the fish populations on which coastal residents depend. Credit: Christopher Pala/IPS

Around the world, subsidized fishing fleets from Europe, China and Japan have depleted the fish populations on which coastal residents depend. Credit: Christopher Pala/IPS

The study, by the University of British Columbia near Vancouver, reconstructed the global catch between 1950 and 2010 and found that it was 30 per cent higher than what countries have been reporting to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in Rome since 1950.

In the Caribbean islands, the catch was more than twice as large as previously reported and declining at a rate 60 per cent faster than the official rate, the Canadian study found.

“This trend needs to be reversed urgently, or else a lot of people who depend on the sea for affordable protein are going to suffer,” said Daniel Pauly, a fisheries scientist who led the study. “And climate change is just going to make things worse.”

Called the “Sea Around Us” and funded by the Pew Environment Group, the study involved more than 400 collaborators over more than a decade.

Since 1950, countries have been required to file to the FAO their entire catch of fish and seafood. Discards – fish caught unintentionally and of little commercial value – were exempted because the program was originally designed to monitor economic development, not overfishing.

But it was long suspected that some countries only bothered reporting the industrial catch by the larger vessels because these pay easy-to-track fees and because they unload their catch in a small number of places and are thus easiest to monitor.

The subsistence catch of people who fish for their families, the artisanal catch by those with small boats, the recreational catch by amateur fishermen all were thought to be greater than reported but to an unknown extent. For its part, the FAO gave no precise indications of how skewered its numbers might be. Dirk Zeller, the study’s co-author, said that virtually all countries routinely blend hard numbers with estimates and could “estimate the uncertainties around their reported data if they chose, but no one does.”

Getting an accurate handle on how much fish is being taken out is vital in a world where hundreds of millions depend on the sea for affordable protein, he said. “Fish stocks are like a stock portfolio,” explained Zeller. “Before you decide how much to sell, you want to know exactly how much you have and how much it’s growing or shrinking.”

Starting in 2002 Pauly and Zeller decided to reconstruct the global catch from 1950 to 2010 and fix the shortcomings of the FAO data set, the bedrock on which global fisheries policies stand. A task “only madmen would consider,” quipped Rainer Froese, a German fisheries scientist. “And now they have pulled it off.”

The result, published here in the British online journal Nature Communications, shows that the real catch was a third larger than the one reported by the FAO. The UN agency says the global catch peaked in 1996 at 86 million tons and stood at 77 million tons in 2010, while the Canadian reconstruction found that it peaked, also in 1996, but at 130 million tons, and stood 110 million tons in 2010.

More alarmingly, the study found that the decline was triple the amount reported by the FAO, which recently called the catch “basically stable.”

Marc Taconet, head of the agency’s fisheries statistics, reaffirmed the validity of its data and “expressed reservations” with the notion that the new findings challenged “FAO’s reports of stable capture production trends in recent years.” He declined to elaborate.

In the Caribbean, Pauly said, the researchers found that fisheries officials were largely focused on reporting catches of species for which foreign fleets paid license fees, like tuna, billfish and sharks.

“They usually forgot about the local fisheries,” he said.

Even the Bahamas, where the local recreational catch is offloaded at the main ports that are easily accessible to tourists, yielded surprising results. There, researcher Nicola Smith found that the authorities had no idea of the size of the catch of deep-sea fish like marlins, tunas and mahi-mahi that Ernest Hemingway made famous. She found that that catch was even bigger than the commercial catch, and that none of it was reported to the FAO.

“When I told the director of marine resources,” she recounted in an interview, “he was quite surprised.”

“It’s astounding,” added Smith, a Bahamian, “that a country that depends on tourism for more than half of its GDP has no clue as to the extent of the catch that plays a central role in attracting tourists.”

Overall, the study found that Caribbean islands catch soared from 230,000 tons in 1950 to 830,000 in 2004 before crashing to 470,000 in 2010.

“And that doesn’t tell the whole story,” Pauly said. “What happened is that as reef fish like snappers and groupers were depleted, islanders ventured farther offshore in search of tuna, whose catch went from 7,000 tons in 1950 to 25,000 tons in 2004,” he said.

But the tuna stocks, long beyond the reach of the islanders, had been hard-hit by the highly-subsidized European, Asian and American fleets and their own numbers have been steadily dropping. Even as more and more islanders participated in the effort to substitute their vanished reef fish with tuna, that catch declined to 20,000 tons in the six years from 2004 to 2010, the study showed.

Conversely, the catch of groupers and snappers declined by a third from 2004 to 2010.

Climate change is expected to harm the Caribbean in several ways, Pauly says. Spikes of warm water temperatures that kill corals are becoming more frequent, leaving the corals less time to recover. The population of herbivores like parrotfish, on which the corals rely on to keep algae under control, has been decimated.

Finally, adds William Cheung, a marine ecologist at UBC who works with Pauly, the Caribbean’s warming waters are driving fish away from the equator. “We estimate the shift in the center of gravity of some species’ range will be 50 kilometers per decade,” he said. In part because animals reproduce less in a new environment, the warming waters will further diminish the overall fish populations in the Caribbean, with major decreases in the south and slight increases in the north, he explained.

To counteract these trends, Pauly said, Caribbean nations need to urgently collect batter data on how much fish they have and how much are being taken out, and then impose realistic catch limits. They should also create no-fishing marine reserves, as Bonaire and Barbuda have done, to allow thinned-out fish populations to grow back, which will then allow for larger, yet sustainable catches within a decade or so.

Credit: Inter Press Service News Agency

Caribbean Water Ministers Will Address Water and Climate Issues to Help Shape the Development Agenda

In September, the United Nations will finalise a Post-2015 Development Agenda known as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDGs follow and expand on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which expire at the end of the year and will be “the global community’s plan of action” for all dimensions of sustainable development (economic, social and environmental) for the next fifteen (15) years.

On the heels of establishing this new universal Agenda; Caribbean Ministers with responsibility for water resources management from more than ten (10) countries, will meet on August 27th and 28th, 2015 at the InterContinental Hotel in Miami, Florida to discuss critical regional water and climate issues. Both water and climate change are reflected as priorities in the soon to be confirmed SDGs, with Goal 6 being: “Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all” and Goal 13 being: “Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.”

This Ministerial Meeting is the 11th Annual High Level Forum (HLF) which is being organised by the Caribbean Water and Wastewater Association (CWWA) and the Global Water Partnership-Caribbean (GWP-C) in collaboration with the Global Environment Facility – funded Caribbean Regional Fund for Wastewater Management (GEF CReW) Project. The 11th HLF which takes place under the theme “Connecting Water to Climate, Economic Growth and Development within the Post-2015 Development Agenda” forms part of the CWWA’s 24th Annual Conference and Exhibition which is being held in partnership with the Florida Section of the American Water Works Association (AWWA).

The 11th HLF takes place at an appropriate time to allow for discussion and collaboration on water and climate matters to help shape the sustainable development agenda of the region. This year’s Forum is forward-looking with a goal of producing concrete outcomes and harmonised recommendations to guide national and regional efforts in operationalising water, wastewater and climate goals and targets for sustainable development. Some outcomes of the Forum are likely to feed into the contribution to be made by Caribbean Small Island Developing States (SIDS) at the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in December to play a pivotal part of global processes for advancing sustainable development.

According to Dr. Douglas Slater, Assistant Secretary-General of Human and Social Development of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), who will be a keynote speaker at the 11th HLF “Climate change will continue to have serious implications for water resources in the region,” linking the two critical issues. He has also stated that partnership remains one of the means of implementation needed to achieve sustainable water development goals. In addition to CARICOM and the Caribbean Ministers with responsibility for water and their senior government officials, representatives from regional and international agencies such as the United Nations Environment Programme Caribbean Environment Programme (UNEP-CEP), the Caribbean Water and Sewerage Association Inc. (CAWASA), the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC), the Caribbean Institute for Meteorology and Hydrology (CIMH), the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), the Pan America Health Organisation (PAHO), the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) are expected to attend. Professor John Agard who shared the Nobel Peace Prize with the United Nations’ International Panel on Climate Change, will moderate a Ministerial panel discussion at the Forum.

 Credit: WINN FM 98.9

ACP ministers adopt roadmap to boost economies through fisheries and aquaculture management

The fourth meeting of African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) ministers in charge of fisheries and aquaculture was held in Brussels from 22 to 23 July 2015, preceded by a meeting of senior fisheries officials on 20 and 21 July.

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It provided an opportunity for the ministers to take stock of progress made in implementing the strategic action plan for fisheries and aquaculture, which was adopted in Nadi, Fiji in 2012, and to agree on the way forward to ensure the sustainability of aquatic resources with a view to wealth creation and development in ACP countries.

More than 60 ACP member states are engaged in the export of fish and aquaculture products to regional and international markets, although these countries provide only 3% share in value of the global fisheries trade, worth US$150 billion per year.

At the conclusion of their meeting, the ministers adopted a roadmap for the implementation of the strategic action plan, calling for mobilisation of adequate financial resources and close collaboration with partner institutions which provide support to ACP fisheries sector, among them the EU, FAO, IFAD, UNIDO and the World Bank, to ensure effective implementation.

Given the negative impact of climate change on the fisheries sector, the ministers called specifically on the international community to agree to outline concrete, ambitious actions to reduce the effects of climate change during the 21st session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 21) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which is scheduled to take place in Paris from 30 November to 11 December 2015.

In light of the persistence of illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing and piracy, the ACP ministers also urged the international community to cooperate more closely with ACP countries and to provide financial and technical support for the efforts made at the national and regional level, to curb and eradicate these two extremely serious problems.

The ministers recommended developing aquaculture, the economic development of the fisheries sector as a means for creating decent jobs, especially for youth and women, as well as the preservation of aquatic biodiversity. They agreed to implement plans for the development of aquaculture and appropriate fisheries management measures in compliance with international agreements.

The ministers also stressed the need for coherence and appropriate policies among regional economic integration organisations and regional fisheries organisations to achieve this aim.

The ministers directed the ACP Secretariat to seek technical assistance and financial support from development partners, specifically the European Union, to strengthen ACP fisheries sectors and their national health and food security agencies to enable them to comply with increasingly stringent health requirements.

The ministers also agreed that the European Union should provide support to the ACP fisheries and aquaculture sector, through appropriate measures, to cope with the erosion of preferential tariffs for ACP fish exports to EU markets, and to support the ACP Position on Fisheries subsidies negotiations in the WTO negotiations.

Credit: Caribbean News Now

President Ramotar lauds work of region’s Climate Change Centre – as task force is set up

(Left to Right) Selwin Hart, Dr. Kenrick Leslie, Dr. Ulric Trotz

(Left to Right) Selwin Hart, Dr. Kenrick Leslie, Dr. Ulric Trotz

President Donald Ramotar lauded the work of the Caribbean Community Climate Change Center (CCCCC) during his presentation today, to CARICOM Heads of Government during their 25th Inter-Sessional Meeting at the Buccament Bay Resort, Kingstown, St Vincent and the Grenadines.

The Leaders agreed to establish a CARICOM Climate Change Task Force to provide guidance to Caribbean climate change negotiators, their Ministers and the region’s political leaders. The CCCCC, along with the CARICOM Secretariat has been tasked with setting up the task force and facilitating its work.

Guyana has been playing a lead role with regards to climate change, and priority projects on adaptation are outlined within its visionary Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS), which seeks to address the effects of climate change while simultaneously encouraging economic development.

The CARICOM Heads also reaffirmed the mandate of the CCCCC, to develop in partnership with member states, a portfolio of bankable projects eligible for climate financing and which is to be presented to the donor community for support.

The Centre is recognised by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and other international agencies as the focal point for climate change issues in the Caribbean.

“This is a critical decision by Heads at a time when efforts are underway through the UN (United Nations) to have a global climate change agreement by the end of 2015. We need to ensure that as a region, our voices are being heard on this important issue, and not only from our technical people, but from the collective political leadership in the region,” President Ramotar noted.

He re-emphasised the need for there to be a globally binding agreement on climate change.

“We have to ensure that we push for a climate change agreement by 2015 which is ambitious in terms of emission reduction targets and providing climate financing,” the Head of State said.

He also stressed that, despite the difficulties faced with climate financing and support for adaptation and climate resilience, the region needs to aggressively tap into opportunities that exist now, while it organises for future possibilities.  

The President noted that the CCCCC and Guyana have been working closely since its establishment and closer ties are being developed as part of the LCDS implementation.

The CCCCC coordinates the Caribbean region’s response to climate change. Officially opened in August 2005, the Centre is the key node for information on climate change issues and on the region’s response to managing and adapting to climate change in the Caribbean, its website states.

On June 8, 2009 former President Bharrat Jagdeo launched the LCDS that outlines Guyana’s vision to promote economic development, while at the same time combating climate change.  A revised version was published on May 24, 2010 and subsequently the LCDS update was launched in March 2013.

Major efforts have been taken to build the country’s capacity to adapt to the anticipated impacts of climate, including extreme weather patterns and sea-level rise leading to flooding.

The LCDS will support the upgrading of infrastructure and assets to protect against flooding through urgent, near-term measures. Specifically, the LCDS update, identified the project area “Climate Resilience, Adaptation and Water Management Initiatives” for which up to US$100 million will be allocated to improve Guyana’s capacity to address climate change.

Published by: GINA and Kaieteur News.

Environmental Psychologist: Uncertainty Drives Inaction on Climate Adaptation

Environmental Psychologist and Geographer Dr. Stefanie Baasch says uncertainties about climate change impacts, especially at the local and regional level, could drive inaction. Read more in her exclusive contribution to Caribbean Climate.

Adaptation to climate change is a new and challenging task on the political agendas. Developing strategies and measures for

Environmental Psychologist and Geographer Dr. Stefanie Baasch

Environmental Psychologist and Geographer Dr. Stefanie Baasch

adaptation are not easy to find because adaptation takes place under conditions of uncertainty, complexity and dynamic developments. On the scientific level there are still deep uncertainties in predicting climate change impacts especially at the local and regional scale.

Also, climate change impacts may interact with each other and may furthermore have a greater adverse effect when acting together compared to when they’re acting in isolation. But even if this data would be available in the future, adaptation still remains challenging because of its high complexity and its dependence on dynamic and interacting societal and natural framework conditions. For example, adaptation capacities are highly dependent on economic and demographic developments.

Simultaneously, adaptation is closely linked to local adaptation needs which are based on locally diverse vulnerabilities. This means that adaptation not only calls for strategies which are focusing on changing natural conditions, but also for integrative strategies that takes both societal and natural conditions into account. Adaptation to climate change is a cross cutting issue that interacts with and influences many policy fields, including nature protection, biodiversity and societal development.

From a psychological perspective, dealing with uncertainties is difficult because people in general feel much more comfortable in decision-making based on certainties, as such uncertainty could lead to justifying inaction. Therefore, dealing with these uncertainties is a crucial task for adaptation to climate change. This includes methodological developments and implementation of flexible approaches which enables stakeholders and decision makers to find solutions and strategies towards adaptation.

Effective and efficient adaptation is calling for governance approaches that involves both public and private actors in the process. The integration of regional and local knowledge and the high local responsibility for supporting and implementing adaptation measures  will foster cooperation needs between a variety of actors. Adaptation to climate change is a policy challenge which consists of balancing multi scale, short- mid- and long-term and conflict-ridden (e.g. water and land use) factors.

In general, adaptation is much more a continuous social learning process in which a wide range of actors (policy makers, sectoral stakeholders, citizens, NGOs, researchers etc.) define options for adaptation and negotiate their priorities. That means, adaptation needs methods which are addressing or enabling such social learning processes between diverse actors and therefore have to be participatory and inclusive.

Dr. Baasch is a senior researcher at the Helmholtz-Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ), Department of Environmental Politics currently conducting research in Belize on how NGOs and other key actors, including community based organizations integrate adaptation to climate change in their programs, as well as  how they are producing and integrating different kinds of knowledge about local adaptation needs. This study is supported by a travel grant from the Fritz Thyssen Foundation in Germany. 

Tell us what you think of Dr. Baasch’s commentary in the comment box below. To contribute to Caribbean Climate email: Tyrone Hall at thall@caribbeanclimate.bz.

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