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Caribbean considers new climate change approaches

PRESS RELEASE:- Commonwealth countries may soon be the benefit from a process called “regenerative development.”

Recently, Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland welcomed high commissioners and climate change innovators to a Commonwealth-facilitated conference in London, calling on all to work together on technologies and approaches that have the potential to reverse climate change.

In her opening remarks, the Secretary-General noted that climate change can wreak havoc on ecosystems and societies. Some of the Commonwealth’s small island developing states face obliteration because of rising sea levels. In other countries, climate change is causing famine, migration and desertification.

Secretary-General Scotland pointed out that time and time again in Commonwealth countries including Dominica, Fiji, and more recently Mozambique, climate-related disasters had undone decades of development gains.

“The magnitude of the threat from climate change especially to those whose endowment or stage of development renders them more vulnerable and less resilient makes it necessary to shift from mere adaptation and mitigation, towards approaches capable of transforming climate change into a window of opportunity.”

Regenerative development is one such approach.

Mary Robinson, the president of the climate justice activist group—the Mary Robinson Foundation—stated that it was time that the narrative on climate change differed.

“We do need a new narrative on climate change and it’s a narrative based on solutions. The idea of regenerative development to tackle climate change makes much sense because we need to get carbon out of the atmosphere as much as possible.”

Regenerative development seeks to reverse the degeneration of ecosystems caused by human activities.

Credit: Government of Saint Lucia

Commonwealth brainstorms climate change responses

The Commonwealth is bringing together global experts to thrash out new ideas for not just reducing climate change but actually reversing its effects by mimicking success stories in nature.

At a two-day gathering on Friday and Saturday at the 52-country organisation’s headquarters in London, a diverse band of experts in fields such as biomimicry, carbon sequestration, design and regeneration traded ideas for practical schemes that could pull carbon out of the air and put it back into the Earth.

Rather than a series of presentations, the conference instead saw experts from around the world huddle in groups to brainstorm.

A Commonwealth gathering in London will bring together experts in biomimicry, carbon sequestration, design and regeneration, to discuss ideas for practical s...

A Commonwealth gathering in London will bring together experts in biomimicry, carbon sequestration, design and regeneration, to discuss ideas for practical schemes that could pull carbon out of the air and put it back into the Earth ©Greg Baker (AFP/File)

“Some of our island states in the Pacific and the Caribbean will be hit first and potentially disappear, therefore climate change has been an issue of real importance to the Commonwealth,” Commonwealth Secretary General Patricia Scotland told AFP.

– Termite mound buildings –

Examples were shared of concrete absorbing carbon, ecologically destroyed landscapes flourishing again through getting carbon back into the soil, and getting more productive agriculture through mimicking the ecosystems of wild, untended land.

There were discussions on buildings designed like termite mounds that ventilate themselves with cool air, or making ships’ hulls like shark skin.

Also mooted were vertical axis wind turbines arranged in school-of-fish formation so the ones behind gain momentum from the vortices, creating far more wind power than regular wind farms.

“It’s stunning, but this is not inventing anything new. Life’s been at it for 3.8 billion years,” biomimicry expert Janine Benyus told AFP.

“We’re talking about bringing carbon home — rebalancing the problem of too much carbon in the air and not enough in the soil,” she added, stepping out of a workshop.

With its diverse membership covering a quarter of the world’s countries, action within the Commonwealth often paves the way for wider global agreements.

The climate change accords reached at its biennial summit in Malta last December were instrumental in the Paris COP21 UN climate conference deal struck later that month, which agreed to cap global warming at less than two degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels.

– ‘Practical, practical, practical’ –

Scotland will take forward ideas and outcomes from the London workshop to the COP22 summit in Marrakesh in November.

“We’re setting off the starter pistol for this race,” the secretary-general said.

“The Commonwealth is seeking to be the platform through which ideas can be transferred.

However, in the arena of climate change, many intriguing proposals get ditched on the grounds of cost, practicality or fears that they could end up inflicting environmental damage.

“We’re looking at how we can share real solutions and help each other to get there faster,” said Scotland.

“We’re saying ‘practical, practical, practical’. If it works, it’s affordable, implementable and makes the difference, then we need people to understand they can believe in it.”

Some sessions focused on so-called big picture ideas, looking at Earth as a complete system.

Delegates discussed how carbon can be used as a resource, in which returning it to the ground can bring about lasting soil fertility and jobs and thereby political stability.

“Life creates conditions conducive to life. It’s about creating new virtuous circles rather than vicious ones,” said Daniel Wahl, who designs regenerative cultures.

“If we do a good job, we can find the funding because the will is there,” he told AFP.

“The time of ‘them and us’ thinking is past. The people who were against each other now have to come together.

“People are dying today from the effects of climate change. To them, it’s not an intellectual debate any more.”

New high for global greenhouse gas emissions

New high for global greenhouse gas emissions ©Simon MALFATTO, Paz PIZARRO (AFP)

Credit: Daily Mail Online

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.

Tackling climate change in the Caribbean

climate change

Sanchez, Petite Martinique. Climate-Proofing the tiny island of Petite Martinique includes a sea revetment 140 metres long to protect critical coastal infrastructure from erosion. (Photo: TECLA  FONTENAD/IPS)

The world is still celebrating the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, the main outcome of the 21st Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Its ambitions are unprecedented: not only has the world committed to limit the increase of temperature to “well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels,” it has also agreed to pursue efforts to “limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C.”

This achievement should be celebrated, especially by Small Island Development States (SIDS), a 41-nation group—nearly half of them in the Caribbean—that has been advocating for increased ambition on climate change for nearly a quarter century.

SIDS are even more vulnerable to climate change impacts — and risk losing more. Global warming has very high associated damages and costs to families, communities and entire countries, including their Gross Domestic Product (GDP) according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

What does this mean for the Caribbean? Climate change is recognized 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.

Moreover, scenarios based on moderate curbing of greenhouse gas emissions reveal that surface temperature would increase between 1.2 and 2.3 °C across the Caribbean in this century. In turn, rainfall is expected to decrease about 5 to 6 per cent. As a result, it will be the only insular region in the world to experience a decrease in water availability in the future.

The combined impact of higher temperatures and less water would likely result in longer dry periods and increased frequency of droughts, which threaten agriculture, livelihoods, sanitation and ecosystems.

Perhaps the most dangerous hazard is sea level rise. The sea level may rise up to 0.6 meters in the Caribbean by the end of the century, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. This could actually flood low-lying areas, posing huge threats, particularly to the smallest islands, and impacting human settlements and infrastructure in coastal zones. It also poses serious threats to tourism, a crucial sector for Caribbean economies: up to 60 per cent of current resorts lie around the coast and these would be greatly damaged by sea level increase.

Sea level rise also risks saline water penetrating into freshwater aquifers, threatening crucial water resources for agriculture, tourism and human consumption, unless expensive treatments operations are put into place.

In light of these prospects, adapting to climate change becomes an urgent necessity for SIDS—including in the Caribbean. It is therefore not surprising that all Caribbean countries have submitted a section on adaptation within their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs), which are the voluntary commitments that pave the way for the implementation of the Paris Agreement.

In their INDCs, Caribbean countries overwhelmingly highlight the conservation of water resources and the protection of coastal areas as their main worries. Most of them also consider adaptation initiatives in the economic and productive sectors, mainly agriculture, fisheries, tourism and forestry.

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has been supporting Caribbean countries in their adaptation efforts for many years now, through environmental, energy-related and risk reduction projects, among others.

This week we launched a new partnership with the Government of Japan, the US$15 million Japan-Caribbean Climate Change Partnership (J-CCCP), in line with the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. The initiative will be implemented in eight Caribbean countries: Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, benefitting an estimated 200,000 women and men in 50 communities.

It will set out a roadmap to mitigate and adapt to climate change, in line with countries’ long-term strategies, helping put in practice Caribbean countries’ actions and policies to reduce greenhouse as emissions and adapt to climate change. 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.

When considering adaptation measures to the different impacts of climate change there are multiple options. Some rely on infrastructure, such as dikes to control sea level rise, but this can be particularly expensive for SIDS, where the ratio of coastal area to land mass is very high.

In this context, ecosystem-based adaptation activities are much more cost-effective, and, in countries with diverse developmental priorities and where financial resources are limited, they become an attractive alternative. This means healthy, well-functioning ecosystems to boost natural resilience to the adverse impacts of climate change, reducing people’s vulnerabilities as well.

UNDP, in partnership with national and local governments in the Caribbean, has been championing ecosystem-based adaptation and risk reduction with very rewarding results.

For example, the Government of Cuba partnered with UNDP, scientific institutes and forestry enterprises to restore mangrove forests along 84 km of the country’s southern shore to slow down saline intrusion from the sea level rise and reduce disaster risks, as the mangrove acts as a protective barrier against hurricanes.

In Grenada, in coordination with the Government and the German International Cooperation Agency, we supported the establishment of a Community Climate Change Adaptation Fund, a small grants mechanism, to provide opportunities to communities to cope with the effects of climate change and extreme weather conditions. We have engaged with local stakeholders to develop climate smart agricultural projects, and climate resilient fisheries, among other activities in the tourism and water resources sectors.

UNDP’s support is directed to balance social and economic development with environmental protection, directly benefitting communities. Our approach is necessarily aligned with the recently approved 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda and its associated Sustainable Development Goals, delivering on protecting ecosystems and natural resources, promoting food security and sanitation, while also helping reduce poverty and promoting sustainable economic growth.

While there is significant potential for climate change adaptation in SIDS, it will require additional external resources, technologies and strengthening of local capacities. In UNDP we are ideally placed to continue working hand-in-hand with Caribbean countries as they implement their INDCs and find their own solutions to climate-change adaptation, while also sharing knowledge and experiences within the region and beyond.

 

Jessica Faieta is United Nations Assistant Secretary General and UNDP Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean.

 

 

Credit: Caribbean 360

Grenadian Youngsters Raise Awareness About Climate Change (Video)

 

How to raise awareness about the effects of climate change, particularly amongst the youth? Grenada might have found the answer!

On Wednesday, 15th October, the Grenada Ministry of Agriculture, Lands, Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment, in conjunction with the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ) unveiled a recently produced music video which will champion climate change awareness activities in the Isle of Spice, particularly amongst the youth. After only three days the video was clicked more than 1500 times on YouTube.

The song, entitled “Can’t Do This Alone”, was written by three budding young artistes, Jevon “Avonni” Langaigne, Elon “Eclipse” Cambridge and Edison “Swipe” Thomas. The music video was commissioned by GIZ and produced by Arthur Daniel, with the assistance of the Grenada True Blue Bay Boutique Resort.

Swipe, Aclipse, Avonni-1

The video was filmed at several locations in Grenada and Carriacou which are vulnerable to the negative impacts of Climate Change. Commenting on their experience producing the video, Jevon Langaigne said, “This has been a truly amazing experience for us, as we all want to pursue careers in music and entertainment. We recorded the song in 2012 for the competition “Spice it up- Sing for preparedness” on Disaster Awareness and are very excited that our song was selected to spread the message on Climate Change Adaptation. We were most impressed with the quality of the video production which rivals videos produced internationally.”

Swipe,Eclipse,Avonni-2

The video was produced under the Integrated Climate Change Adaptation Strategies (ICCAS) project, which is currently being implemented throughout Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique.

The overarching goal of ICCAS is to increase resilience of vulnerable communities and ecosystems to climate change risks. New is the integrated and cross-sectoral approach of the project: Instead of only implementing isolated measures, the project offers an integrated approach by linking local activities with national policies and sector-specific experiences with comprehensive intervention packages. For example, at the national level, the project supports the institutionalization of a systematic risk analysis by using the Caribbean Climate Change Online Risk and Adaptation Tool (CCORAL), a seminal tool produced and managed by by the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre. An important role for the success of the project is the involvement of the local population through a “Community Adaptation Fund” accessible for tangible, visible adaptation action on the ground. Finally the project supports Grenada in gaining access to longterm funding for adaptation measures. This comprehensive approach should serve as a “good-practice” example for other countries in the region.

Swipe,Eclipse,Avonni-3

The ICCAS project is funded by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety under the International Climate Initiative (IKI) and jointly implemented by the Government of Grenada, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

Bookmark This: International Meeting of the Ecosystem-Based Adaptation Community of Practice

EBA

International Meeting of the Ecosystem-Based Adaptation Community of Practice

26-27 February 2015 – Lima, Peru

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) REGATTA and Practical Action Latin America are pleased to invite the members of the Ecosystem-Based Adaptation (EbA) Community of Practice to apply for participating on an international meeting to be held on Thursday 26 and Friday 27 February 2015 in the city of Lima, Peru.

Objectives
The international meeting aims to strengthen the EbA community members’ network. For this, their participants will present and discuss different aspects of their experiences in EbA and will identify initiatives of mutual collaboration.

Participants’ profile
We are looking for the participation of members that have implemented EbA measures, of practitioners with possibilities of influence in relevant government and technical cooperation projects or programmes, and of those members that have contributed or participated in modules and/or webinars.

Content
The first day of the international meeting the main challenges of EbA measures implementation will be discussed through the presentation of community members’ experiences in parallel sessions. The second day will be centered mainly in the discussion of joint initiatives, sustainable mechanisms for the community and fellowship activities.

Application
The international meeting is open to all participants of the community of practice, but it will be possible to fund the participation of around 30 people. For those interested, please fill the application format and send it to info@solucionespracticas.org.pe by Friday 19 December 2014 (5 pm Panamá EST) with the subject “EbA Meeting Application”. Early applications will have better chances. Participants receiving funding will be paid transport, accommodation and food costs.

Candidates will be assessed based on the EbA experience they present, on their possibility to influence government and technical cooperation projects or programmes, and on their contribution to the EbA community so far. Any application received after 19 December 2014 will not be considered.

Those interested in participating in the meeting self-financing their costs should send the participation form completed to info@solucionespracticas.org.pe by Friday 16 January 2014 (5 pm Panamá EST) with the subject “EbA Meeting Participation”.

Timetable
Call                                              :           Friday 5 September 2014
Applications deadline             :           Friday 19 December 2014
Results                                        :           Friday 9 January 2015
EbA International Meeting    :           Thursday 26 and Friday 27 February 2015

Climate Policy Goes Hand-in-Hand with Water Policy

Guyana beverage manufacturer Banks DIH Limited treats all waste water, making it safe for disposal into the environment. Credit: Desmond Brown/IPS

Guyana beverage manufacturer Banks DIH Limited treats all waste water, making it safe for disposal into the environment. Credit: Desmond Brown/IPS

Concerned that climate change could lead to an intensification of the global hydrological cycle, Caribbean stakeholders are working to ensure it is included in the region’s plans for Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM).

The basis of IWRM is that the many different uses of finite water resources are interdependent. High irrigation demands and polluted drainage flows from agriculture mean less freshwater for drinking or industrial use.

Contaminated municipal and industrial wastewater pollutes rivers and threatens ecosystems. If water has to be left in a river to protect fisheries and ecosystems, less can be diverted to grow crops.

Meanwhile, around the world, variability in climate conditions, coupled with new socioeconomic and environmental developments, have already started having major impacts.

The Global Water Partnership-Caribbean (GWP-C), which recently brought international and regional stakeholders together for a conference in Trinidad, is aimed at better understanding the climate system and the hydrological cycle and how they are changing; boosting awareness of the impacts of climate change on society, as well as the risk and uncertainty in the context of water and climate change and especially variability; and examining adaptation options in relation to water and climate change.

“Basically we’re looking to integrate aspects of climate change and climate variability and adaptation into the Caribbean water sector,” Natalie Boodram, programme manager of the Water, Climate and Development Programme (WACDEP), told IPS.

“And this is a very big deal for us because under predicted climate change scenarios we’re looking at things like drier dry seasons, more intense hurricanes, when we do get rain we are going to get more intense rain events, flooding.

“All of that presents a substantial challenge for managing our water resources. So under the GWP-C WACDEP, we’re doing a number of things to help the region adapt to this,” she added.

Current variability and long-term climate change impacts are most severe in a large part of the developing world, and particularly affect the poorest.

Through its workshops, GWP-C provides an opportunity for partners and stakeholders to assess the stage of the IWRM process that various countries have reached and work together to operationalise IWRM in their respective countries.

Integrated Water Resources Management is a process which promotes the coordinated development and management of water, land and related resources in order to maximise economic and social welfare in an equitable manner without compromising the sustainability of vital ecosystems.

IWRM helps to protect the world’s environment, foster economic growth and sustainable agricultural development, promote democratic participation in governance, and improve human health.

GWP-C regional co-ordinator, Wayne Joseph, said the regional body is committed to institutionalising and operationalising IWRM in the region.

“Our major programme is the WACDEP Programme, Water and Climate Development Programme, and presently we are doing work in four Caribbean Countries – Jamaica, Antigua, Guyana and St. Lucia,” he told IPS.

“We’re gender-sensitive. We ensure that the youth are incorporated in what we do and so we provide a platform, a neutral platform, so that issues can be discussed that pertain to water and good water resources management.”

The Caribbean Youth Environment Network (CYEN) is a non-profit, civil society body that focuses its resources on empowering Caribbean young people and their communities to develop programmes and actions to address socioeconomic and environmental issues.

Rianna Gonzales, the national coordinator of the Trinidad and Tobago Chapter, has welcomed the initiative of the GWP-C as being very timely and helpful, adding that the region’s youth have a very important role to play in the process.

“I think it’s definitely beneficial for young people to be part of such a strategic group of people in terms of getting access to resources and experts…so that we will be better able to communicate on water related issues,” she told IPS.

The CYEN programme aims at addressing issues such as poverty alleviation and youth employment, health and HIV/AIDS, climatic change and global warming, impact of natural disasters/hazards, improvement in potable water, conservation and waste management and other natural resource management issues.

The GWP-C said the Caribbean region has been exposed to IWRM and it is its goal to work together with its partners and stakeholders at all levels to implement IWRM in the Caribbean.

“A very significant activity for the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States has been to prepare a Water Sector Model Policy and Model Water Act which proposes to remedy the key water resources management issues through new institutional arrangements and mechanisms that include water and waste water master planning, private sector and community partnership and investment mechanisms,” GWP-C chair Judy Daniel told IPS.

IWRM has not been fully integrated in the policy, legal and planning frameworks in the Caribbean although several territories have developed/drafted IWRM Policies, Roadmaps and Action plans. Some of these countries include: Antigua and Barbuda; Barbados; Dominica; Grenada; Guyana, Jamaica; The Bahamas; Trinidad and Tobago; and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Credit: Inter Press Service News Agency

Caribbean experts call for stronger cooperation on oil spills and nutrient management

Participants from the seventh steering committee meeting of the RAC-REMPEITC in Curacao

Participants from the seventh steering committee meeting of the RAC-REMPEITC in Curacao

Over 80 percent of the Caribbean Sea is polluted from land-based sources and activities such as deforestation, untreated waste-water, oil spills, agricultural runoff, farm waste and litter. This affects livelihoods, health, economies and ecosystems.

To address these problems, pollution experts from across the Caribbean met recently at two meetings.

  1. The seventh steering committee meeting for the Regional Activity Centre — Regional Marine Pollution Emergency Information and Training Centre for the Wider Caribbean (RAC-REMPEITC). That May 20-12 meeting in Curacao focused on an oil spill protocol for the region.
  2. The second meeting was of the scientific, technical and advisory committee (STAC), to the protocol concerning pollution from land-based sources and activities (LBS STAC 2).The June 1-14 meeting in Nicaragua, which was hosted by UNEP’s Caribbean Environment Programme (UNEP CEP), was being staged for the second year.

Key recommendations included:

  • UNEP CEP and the government of Curacao agreed to the continued hosting of the regional activity centre in Curacao that supports the protocol concerning cooperation in combating oil spills in the wider Caribbean region (oil spills protocol).
  • UNEP CEP and partners to promote the integration of oil spill disaster planning into national disaster planning processes by working with regional disaster agencies such as Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA)
  • UNEP CEP to work with oil spill regional centre to provide technical support to countries affected by oil pollution including dispersants and rehabilitating areas contaminated with oil.
  • UNEP CEP to develop stronger partnerships with the GPNM (global partnership on nutrient management) to improve nutrient management within the wider Caribbean region.
  • UNEP CEP and partner agencies to develop activities which will enhance the implementation of the LBS Protocol with specific reference to ship generated waste, air pollution and pre-treatment of industrial effluent found in domestic waste-water.

Christopher Corbin, programme officer for the assessment and management of environmental pollution at UNEP CEP, noted that these meetings were critical to evaluate the status of pollution in the region and to identify future priorities.

Nelson Andrade Colmenares, the regional coordinator for UNEP’s Caribbean Environment Programme, stressed that “currently 50 percent of coral reefs are in decline within the region.” However, he added that “with continued stakeholder engagement, cooperation and action this trend can be reversed allowing the region to prosper for generations to come.”

The recommendations from the technical meetings will be presented to the thirteenth meeting of the contracting parties to the convention for the protection and development of the wider Caribbean region, which will be held in Cartagena, Colombia.

In this International Year of Small Island Developing States, ocean, seas and biodiversity have been listed as priority areas. Management of pollution can be addressed by education, stakeholder engagement and a commitment to tackling these issues and it is anticipated that these regional and global efforts will result in action.

Credit: Caribbean News Now!

World Day to Combat Desertification

UN Decade on Biodiversity

The land under our feet is ancient. Minerals and organic material have mixed together over decades, if not centuries and millennia, to provide the bed upon which our food is grown. The plants which grow in this soil are not only the basis for food and fibre they are also contribute to our supply of clean water and are a storage place for carbon. Land is the key for life and livelihoods today.

As the global population increases in the years to come, and as climate change affects the availability of water, with consequences for water and food security, land will become even more important. Dry lands hold a significant proportion of the world’s soil carbon stock, and land degradation contributes to greenhouse gas emissions. Sustainable land management is therefore a key climate change mitigation strategy.

Biodiversity conservation and sustainable land management will be critical for managing our ecosystems so that they can support improved water security for food production as well as being more resilient to climate change.

Ecosystem-based adaptation, which integrates biodiversity and ecosystem services into an overall adaptation strategy, can be cost-effective and generate social, economic and cultural co-benefits. This approach can contribute to the conservation of biodiversity while providing climate change adaptation benefits.

The Tenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties, held 2010 in Japan, adopted the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 and twenty Aichi Biodiversity Targets, which provide a framework for biodiversity conservation, ecosystem restoration and sustainable land management.

In particular, I would like to highlight Aichi Biodiversity Target 15 which calls for the enhancement of the resilience of ecosystems and the restoration of at least 15% of degraded ecosystems, thereby contributing to climate change mitigation and adaptation and to combating desertification. Also relevant are: Target 5 which aims that by 2020, the rate of loss of all natural habitats, including forests, is at least halved and where feasible brought close to zero, and degradation and fragmentation is significantly reduced; Target 7, which calls for areas under agriculture, aquaculture and forestry to be managed sustainably, ensuring conservation of biodiversity; and, Target 14, which aims that by 2020, ecosystems that provide essential services, including services related to water, and contribute to health, livelihoods and well-being, are restored and safeguarded, taking into account the needs of women, indigenous and local communities and the poor and vulnerable.

As sister Rio Conventions, the Convention on Biological Diversity and the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification have many areas of convergence, the most significant being the work to conserve, restore and sustainably utilize dry-land ecosystems. In fact, the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 and its Aichi Biodiversity Targets provide strong bases for implementing the synergies between the two Conventions at the national level.

As we prepare to celebrate the World Day to Combat Desertification let us strive for sustainable strategies that integrate the management of land, water and biodiversity through sustaining ecosystem services. In this way we can combat desertification, help adapt to climate change and achieve the goals of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020.

Credit: United Nations Decade on Biodiversity

Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Brief Highlights Climate Change Impacts on Fisheries and Aquaculture

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The Sustainable Fisheries Partnership (SFP) has issued a brief,’Climate Change: Implications for Fisheries and Aquaculture,’ which details the threats of climate change and ocean acidification to fisheries, aquaculture and marine resources as relayed in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report (AR5).

The brief highlights that climate change and ocean acidification are altering ocean ecosystems, leading to a loss of marine biodiversity and changes in seafood production levels, including through the displacement of stocks and rising mortality of shellfish. It notes that other factors such as over-fishing, habitat loss and pollution worsen the impacts of climate change on marine resources. The publication also highlights impending issues such as: the rapid decline of coral reef ecosystems, with the risk of collapse of some coastal fisheries; the likely increase in coral bleaching; potential increases in illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing from changes in coastal resources and food insecurity; and possible mass die-offs in farmed fish due to harmful algal blooms.

The brief explains that fishers can adapt to some of the impacts, through, inter alia: changing gear or target species; increasing aquaculture; and moving to dynamic management policies. Additionally, some positive impacts of climate change are highlighted, including faster growth rates and food conversion efficiency, longer growing seasons, and new growing areas due to decreases in ice cover.

Regarding the potential for mitigation in the fisheries sector, the brief highlights options such as strengthening coastal zone management to reduce land-sourced pollution, over harvesting and physical damage to resources. It also suggests creating new habitats, such as artificial reefs, to act as fish nurseries in areas where coral reef destruction occurs. According to the report, protecting some ocean ecosystems will help moderate the speed and scale of climate change, as well as build ecosystem health.

The brief is published jointly by the SFP and the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership and Cambridge Judge Business School, and is supported by the European Climate Foundation. It is one of a series of publications synthesizing the most relevant AR5 findings for specific economic and business sectors, and grew from the idea that the fisheries and aquaculture sector could make better use of the AR5, if distilled into an accessible and succinct summary.

Credit: SFP News Story from the Climate Change: Implications for Fisheries and Aquaculture publication.
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