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Senior environment officials from the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) met recently in Belize as CARICOM rationalises its position on the United Nations (UN) process to establish an international legally binding agreement on sustainable use of marine resources.
The two-day workshop held 20-22 February 2017, in Belize City, Belize, was titled, ‘CARICOM Regional Workshop on the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Marine Biological Diversity beyond Areas of National Jurisdiction’.
Foreign Minister of Belize, the Hon. Wilfred Elrington, addressing the opening, said that CARICOM Member States had championed the negotiation and adoption of the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Seas (UNCLOS), which was opened for signature in Jamaica. He also reminded that when the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea was constituted, two CARICOM citizens – Edward Laing of Belize and Dolliver Nelson of Grenada, joined the ranks of the first 21 Members of the Tribunal.
“Judge Laing and Judge Nelson are no longer with us, but they, together with other key jurists from our Region, including the sitting Judge Anthony Amos Lucky of Trinidad and Tobago, have left a legacy on the international stage that is definitive of our Region’s commitment to uphold the law of the sea.
“We have now been called upon to address an area of the law of the sea that has not been adequately provided for in the UNCLOS, whether for want of scientific knowledge, implementation, or as a result of governance and legal gaps,” he said.
For CARICOM, he noted, the implementation of this agreement was the only feasible option to ensure that developing countries and Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in particular, benefited equitably from the conservation, sustainable use and exploitation of areas beyond national jurisdiction.
Critically, he said, the agreement presented an opportunity to strengthen the Convention and to help States with the implementation of provisions of UNCLOS relating to resources which would not have been contemplated to be the exclusive domain of any State, however large and industrialised.
Minister Elrington told the gathering of regional experts in the legal field, in fisheries, environment and international relations that it was critical for the meeting to identify the essential elements for a new implementing agreement, taking into account regional interests, the Community’s contributions to the conservation and sustainable use of marine resources and potential benefits to be secured in such an agreement.
The Hon. Dr. Omar Figueroa, Minister of State in the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, Forestry, the Environment, Sustainable Development and Climate Change, also addressed the meeting noting that the wide range of expertise gathered at the meeting reflected the complexity of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction.
This multi-sectoral approach was necessary, he said, to address the complexities of the issue. He urged the participants to use the platform for knowledge-building, sharing and networking, and to establish a solid foundation upon which the CARICOM could formulate well-informed positions.
The meeting engaged in technical discussions on the proposed Implementing Agreement under the United Nations Law of the Sea on Biodiversity beyond National Jurisdiction. It identified areas for further study and research for the Region to enhance its participation in the preparatory process. It also identified key actions to be taken at the national and regional level ahead of the next Preparatory meeting of the United Nations scheduled for March 27th to 7th April 2017.
Credit: CARICOM Today
The Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) and the Government of Norway have launched a two-week mission to explore the development of a regional technical assistance project to be funded by Norway. The project would support the region’s fisheries and aquaculture sector by strengthening evidence-based management.
Dr. Åge Høines, Senior Scientist, Institute of Marine Research, Norway; and Dr. Johán Williams, Specialist Director, Norwegian Ministry of Fisheries and Coastal Affairs, began meeting on Monday, January 16, with CRFM Executive Director Milton Haughton at the CRFM Secretariat in Belize City, after which the team embarked in a two-week dialogue with 7 CRFM Members States, beginning with senior government officials in Belize.
This regional fact-finding mission is being undertaken within the framework of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and Cooperation between the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Governments of the Nordic Countries of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden, signed by the parties on 20 September 2016 in New York, USA. That MoU identified fisheries as one of the priority areas of cooperation, along with environment, climate change, renewable energy, gender equality, tourism, education, child protection and welfare, and information technology.
“Norway is a powerhouse in fisheries, globally,” Haughton said. “They have excellent systems for research, data collection, resource management, and making decisions based on science; and we need to move more in that direction—strengthening our systems to be able to make better decisions regarding fisheries conservation and management, as well as fisheries development on the basis of good scientific data and information.”
Haughton added that: “We are interested in drawing on the Norwegian knowledge, expertise and technology in various aspects of fisheries and aquaculture, in building our own capacities in CARICOM in fisheries research, statistics, resource management, aquaculture (particularly mariculture), fish processing, value addition, marketing and international trade.”
Principally, the engagement between Norway and the CRFM Member States will focus on building human resource capacity, institutional capacity, and the accuracy and volume of fisheries data and information, with an emphasis on pursuing the ecosystems approach to fisheries development and management.
While in Belize, Høines and Williams had a chance to dialogue with H.E. Daniel Guiterrez, Belize’s Ambassador to CARICOM; Hon. Dr. Omar Figueroa, Belize’s Minister of State in the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, Forestry, the Environment and Sustainable Development and Climate Change, as well as Fisheries Administrator Beverly Wade.
After leaving Belize on Tuesday, the team, joined by CRFM Executive Director Milton Haughton, travels to Haiti for similar dialogue, as they consult with stakeholders in the field to better define their interests. Next, the team will travel to Barbados, Grenada, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, and The Bahamas. While in Guyana, they will meet both with fisheries officials there and officials of the CARICOM Secretariat. The technical mission concludes near the end of January.
Haughton noted that for more than 60 years, Norway has been supporting fisheries research surveys in developing countries using the marine research vessel, Dr. Fridtjof Nansen, outfitted with high-level modern technology in marine resource survey. Those vessels have been dispatched in Africa and other parts of the developing world. It is the CRFM’s hope that during the latter half of the proposed project, for the period 2019-2020, the research vessel would be deployed in the Caribbean to conduct surveys to broaden the region’s understanding of the state of its fisheries resources and marine environment. The CRFM also intends to collaborate in this endeavor with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)/ Western Central Atlantic Fisheries Commission, which is already committed to assisting the region in buildings its fisheries knowledge base.
Credit: The Bahamas Weekly
The Belize Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, Forestry, Environment and Sustainable Development hosted a 1 day workshop earlier in March, 2016, at the Best Western Belize Biltmore Plaza Hotel under a project entitled “Capacity-building for the strategic planning and management of natural resources in Belize”. This project is being implemented in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme, with funding from the Global Environment Facility, and aims to facilitate sustainable development as we seek to manage and adapt to the effects of climate change.
The concept of a low carbon development strategy came up at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Cancun in 2010 where developing countries such as Belize were encouraged to pursue development with minimal outputs of greenhouse gas emissions and at the same time prepare for its impacts.
A Low Carbon Development Roadmap was prepared for Belize in 2015 during which the consultancy identified and analyzed challenges and gaps with regard to low carbon development in the country. The Low Carbon Development Roadmap will strategically assist the country to follow a low-carbon economy path in order to achieve sustainable development, based on local socio-economic and development priorities. During the first roadmap consultations, low carbon development alternatives in the Agriculture, Forestry, Energy, Tourism and Transport sectors were analyzed. Citing two examples, improved farming practices will enable farmers to be more resilient as well as reduce agricultural emissions; and energy efficiency and renewable energy solutions can minimize carbon emissions while at the same time contribute to poverty reduction.
It is against this backdrop, the capacity gap assessment workshop was held. The workshop aimed at revising the Roadmap, to align the roadmap to the Growth and Sustainable Development strategy in a more coordinated, coherent and strategic manner and to identify the main capacity gaps. South Pole Carbon Asset Management Ltd. had prepared the Low Carbon Development Roadmap and was contracted by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, Forestry, Environment and Sustainable Development to undertake this initiative.
Key stakeholders from regional organizations, as well as from the public and private sectors, were invited to allow for focused discussions, and to contribute of their knowledge and experience.
The outcome of this workshop will be a new version of the Low Carbon Development Roadmap that will incorporate the feedback from the stakeholders and will be aligned to the Growth and Sustainable Development Strategy to ensure coherence and integration between climate change, growth and sustainable policy framework.
Credit: Belize National Climate Change Office
Agriculture and food security are exposed to impacts and risks related to the changing climate in several ways. On the other hand, agriculture and food production activities are also responsible for part of the greenhouse gas emissions that in turn cause climate change.
According to the latest conclusions by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, agriculture, together with deforestation and other human actions that change the way land is used (codename: AFOLU, Agriculture, Forestry and Other Land Use), accounts for about a quarter of emissions contributing to climate change.
GHG emissions from farming activities consist mainly of non-CO2 gases: methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) produced by bacterial decomposition processes in cropland and grassland soils and by livestock’s digestive systems.
The latest estimates released in 2014 by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization [pdf] showed that emissions from crop and livestock production and fisheries have nearly doubled over the past fifty years, from 2.7 billion tonnes CO2e in 1961 to more than 5.3 billion tonnes CO2e in 2011.
During the last ten years covered by FAO data (2001-2011) agricultural emissions increased by 14 percent (primarily in developing countries that expanded their agricultural outputs), while almost in the same years (2001-2010) net GHG emissions due to land use change and deforestation decreased by around 10 percent (due to reduced levels of deforestation and increases in the amount of atmospheric carbon removed from the atmosphere as a result of carbon sequestration in forest sinks).
The current situation, as highlighted by a recent study led by FAO and published in Global Change Biology, sees farming activities more responsible for climate pollution than deforestation. Even thought emissions from agriculture and land use change are growing at a slower rate than emissions from fossil fuels, emissions reduction achieved thanks to better forest and soil management are cancelled out by a more intensive and energy-consuming food production systems. The FAO estimated that without increased efforts to address and reduce them, GHG emissions from the sector could increase by an additional 30 percent by 2050.
In a recent study published on Nature Climate Change, scientists pointed out that “the intensification of agriculture (the Green Revolution, in which much greater crop yield per unit area was achieved by hybridization, irrigation and fertilization) during the past five decades is a driver of changes in the seasonal characteristics of the global carbon cycle”.
As shown in the graph below, livestock-related emissions from enteric fermentation and manure contributed nearly two-thirds of the total GHG agricultural emissions produced in the last years, with synthetic fertilizers and rice cultivation being the other major sources.
According to another report by FAO (“Tackling climate change through livestock”, accessible here in pdf), the livestock sector is estimated to emit 7.1 billion tonnes CO2-eq per year, with beef and cattle milk production accounting for the majority of the sector’s emissions (41 and 19 percent respectively).
Emission intensities (i.e. emissions per unit of product) are highest for beef (almost 300 kg CO2-eq per kilogram of protein produced), followed by meat and milk from small ruminants (165 and 112kg CO2-eq.kg respectively). Cow milk, chicken products and pork have lover global average emission intensities (below 100 CO2-eq/kg). However, emission intensity widely varies at sub-global level due to the different practices and inputs to production used around the world. According to FAO, the livestock sector plays an important role in climate change and has a high potential for emission reduction.
Together with increasing conversion of land to agricultural activities and the use of fertilizers, increasing energy use from fossil fuels is one of the main drivers that boosted agricultural emissions in the last decades. FAO estimated that in 2010 emissions from energy uses in food production sectors (including emissions from fossil fuel energy needed i.e. to power machinery, irrigation pumps and fishing vessels) amounted to 785 million tonnes CO2e.
FAO latest data show that in the past two decades around 40 percent of GHG agricultural outputs (including emissions from energy use) are based in Asia. The Americas has the second highest GHG emissions (close to 25 percent), followed by Africa, Europe and Oceania.
According to FAO, since 1990 the top ten emitters are: China, India, US, Brazil, Australia, Russia, Indonesia, Argentina, Pakistan and Sudan.
The need for climate-smart agriculture and food production systems becomes even more compelling when considering the shocking level of waste within the global food system. According to the first FAO study to focus on the environmental impacts of food wastage, released in 2013 (accessible here in pdf), each year food that is produced and gone to waste amounts to 1.3 billion tonnes.
Food wastage’s carbon footprint is estimated at 3.3 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent released into the atmosphere per year, to which must be added significant amounts of agricultural areas (1.4 billion hectares, globally) and water (250km3) used annually to produce food that is lost or wasted.
How to meet global food needs (with global population projected to reach 9 billion in 2050) without overexploiting soil and water, and with lower emissions contributing to climate change (whose impacts in turn affect water and food security) is the greatest farming challenge of of today’s and tomorrow’s world.
Credit: Best Climate Practices
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.
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.”
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.
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).
Dr David J. Keeling, Distinguished University Professor of Geography at Western Kentucky University, says “Climate change impacts, both long-term and short-term, are likely to have serious repercussions for Belizean communities without a detailed and comprehensive management plan for accessibility and mobility”. Peruse his exclusive contribution to Caribbean Climate.
Links between climate change and transportation may not seem obvious at first glance, especially when considering the broader social and economic impacts of weather shifts over time and space. The short-term effects of climate events such as tornadoes, hurricanes, tidal surges, or flash floods capture the attention of the media, emergency personnel, and these populations affected primarily because of the immediate humanitarian considerations. People need rescuing, emergency shelters must be provided, potable water and food are needed, and emergency services are charged with helping the devastated communities to recover. Without transportation infrastructure, and without the means to provide accessibility to, and mobility within, the affected areas, tragedy would be compounded. Roads especially are critical to this recovery effort, particularly in poorer regions of a country or in more isolated rural areas, because often this is the only basic infrastructure available to connect people to the outside world.
A longer view of climate change impacts on people and places requires governments and societies to think about transportation in different ways. Of course, we understand intuitively that transport improvements are critical to socio-economic growth and wellbeing, but this does not necessarily translate into concrete policy in many parts of the world, especially Latin America. In Brazil, for example, Latin America’s most robust economy and most populated country, less than 10 percent of the country’s roads are paved, compared to nearly 60 percent in China or 99 percent in Thailand. In smaller countries such as Belize that have fewer available resources, the transportation challenges are more critical and immediate. Climate change impacts, both long-term and short-term, are likely to have serious repercussions for Belizean communities without a detailed and comprehensive management plan for accessibility and mobility.
Less than 20 percent of Belize’s roads are paved, many are two-laned only, some are washboard-dirt in composition, and often patched with gravel or sand. Many Belizean communities are located quite far from major highway access points, and could be viewed as much more susceptible or vulnerable to coastal changes than larger towns and cities. Regional plans for infrastructural improvements under the auspices of the Plan Puebla-Panamá include the Guatemala-Yucatán Axis that aims to improve economic integration and mobility along the Caribbean coast. However, little progress has been made to date, in part because of regional geopolitical differences. Yet local planning for long-term climate change impacts, such as rising sea levels, more intense rainfall, or other climatic shifts, needs to be harmonized with transportation infrastructure challenges in mind. Belize needs to have a comprehensive, forward-looking management plan that anticipates the relationship between climate change, accessibility, and mobility. This is especially critical for the tourism industry and for agriculture, forestry, and other primary economic activities.
As climates change, so too do economic opportunities and potentials. In short, Belize is vulnerable to the long-term impacts of climate change in myriad ways. It needs, therefore, a proactive, integrative set of management goals that recognize how transportation infrastructure is inextricably intertwined with socio-economic goals and strategies. Even a small country like Belize can have big ideas and policies that can set the standard for how to manage future climate change.
The launch featured the official handing over of various equipment by the German Ambassador Stefan Schlüter to the Hon. Roland Bhola, Minister of Agriculture, Lands, Forestry, Fisheries & Environment, a highly informative and lively presentation by MPA Coordinator Roland Baldeo on the work of the Molinière-Beauséjour Marine Protected Area (MPA), and the opening of the new MPA administrative office. There was also a lionfish information display, featuring live lionfish aquarium and delicious lionfish tasting!
CATS is an umbrella program that follows a ‘Ridge-to-Reef Approach’ by bringing together two topical projects, namely one on “Adaptation of Rural Economies and Natural Resources to Climate Change”, and the other on the “Management of Coastal Resources and Conservation of Marine Biodiversity”.
In the case of CATS, the ‘Concept of Herding CATS’ has been adopted, which will aid the region to effectively coordinate the support provided by various International Development Partners (IDP) and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO).
CATS is a regional development cooperation program between the Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM) and the Government of the Federal Republic of Germany. The implementing agencies are the Environmental Health and Management Unit of the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) and the German Government’s Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ). The program will soon operate in eight CARICOM Member States from Guyana, Grenada, St. Vincent & Grenadines, St. Lucia, Dominica, St. Kitts & Nevis, Jamaica and Belize.