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Caribbean communities take on climate change

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DATA GAPS

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

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

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

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

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

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

Credit: Thomas Reuters Foundation News

CDB provides funds for poverty reduction in 8 Caribbean countries

The Barbados-based Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) says it is providing US$40 million in funding for poverty reduction in eight Caribbean through the Basic Needs Trust Fund (BNTF).

It said the resources will support improved access to quality education; water and sanitation; basic community access and drainage; livelihoods enhancement and human resource development services in low-income and vulnerable communities under the ninth phase of BNTF (BNTF 9).

The countries that will benefit from the initiative are Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, and Suriname.

“The participating countries share many common characteristics and face a number of challenges inherent to small, open economies. BNTF 9 will respond to the development needs of these countries, which face challenges associated with limited diversity in production and extreme vulnerability to natural hazards, which is  now exacerbated by climate change and other external shocks,” said Daniel Best, director of projects at the CDB.

Initiatives under BNTF 9 will be implemented during the period March 2017 to December 2020.

The CDB said that the governments of the eight participating countries will provide total counterpart funding of US$6.4 million.

BNTF has implemented more than 2,750 sub-projects over the past 37 years, directly impacting the lives of more than three million beneficiaries in poor communities,” the CDB said, adding that the programme is its main vehicle for tackling poverty in the region, through the provision of basic infrastructure and skills training towards improving the livelihoods of beneficiaries in participating countries.

Credit: Jamaica Observer

CDB approves US$306 million in loans, grants in 2016

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CDB President, Dr William Warren Smith

In 2016, the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) approved US$306 million in loans and grants, the highest approval total during the past five years. And of the countries for which funding was approved, Belize, Saint Lucia and Suriname were the three largest beneficiaries of loans.

Dr William Warren Smith, CDB president, made this announcement during the bank’s annual news conference on Friday, February 17, in Barbados.

Smith pointed out that, in addition to the grants approved in 2016, the Bank began implementing the United Kingdom Caribbean Infrastructure Partnership Fund (UK CIF). UK CIF is a £300 million grant programme for transformational infrastructure projects in eight Caribbean countries and one British overseas territory, which CDB administers. £16.4 million in grants was approved for projects and technical assistance in Antigua and Barbuda, Belize, Dominica and Grenada.

“We reached noteworthy milestones in deepening our strategic partnerships and successfully mobilising financial resources that our BMCs can use to craft appropriate responses to their development challenges,” said Smith, noting that UK CIF was among the bank’s partnership highlights in 2016.

Last year, the bank also signed a credit facility agreement with Agence Française de Développement. It included a US$33 million loan to support sustainable infrastructure projects and a EUR3 million grant to fund feasibility studies for projects eligible for financing under the credit facility.

Also in 2016, CDB entered an arrangement with the government of Canada for the establishment and administration of a CA$5 million fund to build capacity in the energy sector, the Canadian Support to the Energy Sector in the Caribbean Fund.

These recent partnerships are part of the bank’s drive to raise appropriately-priced resources mainly for financing projects with a strong focus on climate adaptation, renewable energy and energy efficiency.

During his statement, Smith highlighted that the bank became an accredited partner institution of both the Adaptation Fund and the Green Climate Fund in 2016.

“The Adaptation Fund and the Green Climate Fund have opened new gateways to much-needed grant and or low-cost financing to address climate change vulnerabilities in all of our BMCs,” Smith told the media.

The president also confirmed that, in 2016, CDB completed negotiations for the replenishment of the Special Development Fund (SDF), the bank’s largest pool of concessionary funds. Contributors agreed to an overall programme of US$355 million for the period 2017-2020, and lowered the SDF interest rate from a range of 2 to 2.5 percent to 1 percent. The programme approved includes US$45 million for Haiti and US$40 million for the Basic Needs Trust Fund. This marked the ninth replenishment of the SDF, which helps meet the Caribbean region’s high-priority development needs.

In his statement, Smith also reaffirmed the bank’s commitment to drive sustained and inclusive income growth, complemented by improvements in living standards in its BMCs. This, he said, was critical, as economic growth across the region remains uneven, with fragile recovery expected to continue into 2017.

“At the core of our operations is the desire to better the lives of Caribbean people. That is the context within which we help to design, appraise and evaluate every project we finance,” Smith said.

Credit: Caribbean News Now!

Saint Lucia attends marine workshop

Saint Lucia attends marine workshop

Press Release – Leading marine experts from the Caribbean and the UK are joining up this week at a three-day workshop aiming to support the sustainable growth of marine economies in the region.

In the Caribbean region, Antigua and Barbuda, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Saint Lucia and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines are set to benefit from the Commonwealth Marine Economies (CME) programme workshop.

The marine workshop, hosted by the British High Commission in Kingston Jamaica, is being attended by senior-level representatives from governments, regional agencies, external science agencies, academia and key donors.

The initiative is part of the UK Government funded CME programme, and follows on from similar consultation events held in the Pacific and Indian Ocean regions.

Discussions will focus on what and how shared expertise, collaboration and co-ordination with existing regional projects can best help achieve sustainable blue growth.

Key themes to be addressed will include the opportunities and challenges Caribbean states face in developing their marine economies, including strengthening food security; enabling blue economies, safeguarding the marine environment; and supporting marine resilience.

The CME Programme was announced by the United Kingdom Government at the 2015 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) to provide technical support, services and expertise to Commonwealth Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and Coastal States in the Caribbean, Indian Ocean and Pacific. The aim of this support is to promote safe and sustainable economic growth and alleviate poverty by harnessing maritime resources, preserving marine environments and facilitating trade.

David Fitton, UK High Commissioner, Jamaica said:

“The marine environment in the Caribbean is uniquely rich in biodiversity, economic potential and cultural importance.  With these opportunities, come immense challenges of poverty, environmental degradation and food security.   The UK seeks to increase prosperity by helping harness maritime resources and preserve the marine environment.

“This Programme plays an important part in this aim.  Through data collection, knowledge-sharing and training, we aim to enable the sustainable development of marine economies in this region and the wider Commonwealth.”

The Programme is being delivered on behalf of the UK Government by a partnership of world-leading UK government marine expertise: the United Kingdom Hydrographic Office (UKHO), the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas) and the National Oceanography Centre (NOC).

A region-wide project, involving Caribbean and UK climate change experts, has been under way since last April.  The project aims to produce a Marine Climate Change Report Card – a regional evaluation of the impact of climate change on the marine environment.

Cefas project lead and workshop delegate, Paul Buckley said:

 “This the first time ever that experts in the Caribbean and the UK have worked together to co-ordinate existing knowledge on coastal and marine climate change impacts on Caribbean SIDS.   It is clear from our knowledge sharing, that the economic impacts of climate change pose a severe challenge to the low-lying SIDS of the Caribbean. This work aims to help inform national and collaborative decision-making to help mitigate and manage the risks of marine climate change in the region.”

Other projects in the Eastern Caribbean include Sustainable Aquaculture and Fisheries in St Lucia, hydrographic surveying in St Vincent and Grenada and Radar Technology Tide Gauges and Training in St Lucia and elsewhere in the Eastern Caribbean.

Credit: St. Lucia Times

CRFM and fisheries powerhouse, Norway, launch fact-finding mission

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From  left to right: Milton Haughton, CRFM Executive Director; Dr. Åge Høines, Senior Scientist, Institute of Marine Research, Norway; Dr. Johán Williams, Special Director, Norwegian Ministry of Fisheries and Coastal Affairs; and Hon. Dr. Omar Figueroa, Minister of State in the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, Forestry, the Environment and Sustainable Development and Climate Change, Belize

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

Eastern and Southern Caribbean Countries to benefit from a new US$25.6 million Climate Change Adaptation Program

Welcome Address by Sharon Lindo, Policy Advisor, CCCCC

PRESS RELEASE – Belmopan, Belize; November 22, 2016 – The Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) and the United States Agency for International Development for the Eastern and Southern Caribbean (USAID)/ESC launched the Climate Change Adaptation Program (CCAP) today, November 22, 2016, at the CCCCC’s headquarters in Belmopan, Belize. The CCAP, which will be implemented by the CCCCC, commits US$25.6 million over four (4) years to boost climate resilient development and reduce climate change induced risks to human and natural assets in ten (10) countries. The beneficiary countries are Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, St. Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, and Suriname.

USAID’s Chief of Mission, Christopher Cushing, the wide array of stakeholders in attendance at the program launch stated that, “this partnership seeks to reduce the risks to human and natural assets resulting from climate variability in the Eastern and Southern Caribbean. We will work together with the 5Cs to create an integrated system to sustainably adapt to climate change in the ECS.

The climate resilient development initiative contributes to a coherent regional effort to tackle climate change induced challenges in the Caribbean. It builds upon both USAID’s Eastern and Southern Caribbean Regional Development Cooperative Strategy, which is addressing development challenges in the Eastern and Southern Caribbean, and the CCCCC’s Regional Framework for Achieving Development Resilient to a Changing Climate and its associated Implementation Plan that were unanimously endorsed by Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Heads.

“Our helping communities and government manage their water sources or sometimes, the lack thereof, is encouraging the private sector and others to adopt renewable energy approaches while working with governments so they can develop the right frameworks and policies to encourage the uptake of renewable,” states Cushing.

The Executive Director of the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre, Dr. Kenrick Leslie, added that the Program shows the value of partnership for capacity building and realising tangible outcomes.

He noted that “donor countries stand with us side by side because they recognized the need for an institution that would help lead the way to address the issues of climate change and sea level rise. While CCAP is a program to help the Eastern and Southern Caribbean countries, it is helping the Centre to have the skills that will help us to propel the needs of our region in developing programmes to meet our obligations.”

Peruse the Climate Change Adaptation Program’s Project Brief

See photos from the signing ceremony here.

USD33 mn to Finance Climate Change Resilient Infrastructure in the Caribbean

Officials from the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) and the Agence Française de Développement (AFD) have signed an agreement to provide USD33,000,000 towards financing sustainable infrastructure projects in the Caribbean region. At least 50 percent of the funds will be used to fund climate change adaptation and mitigation projects.

The agreement was signed last month at the CDB Headquarters in Barbados, by French Ambassador to the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States and Barbados, Eric de la Moussaye, in the presence of CDB Vice-President (Operations), Patricia McKenzie.

Patricia McKenzie, CDB Vice-President, Operations and Eric de la Moussaye, French Ambassador to the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States and Barbados, sign the Credit Facility Agreement.

Patricia McKenzie, CDB Vice-President, Operations and Eric de la Moussaye, French Ambassador to the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States and Barbados, sign the Credit Facility Agreement.

Caribbean countries are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, with our geographical location leading to high exposure to natural hazards. Economic conditions also play a role, as there is a lack of access to long-term resources to finance sustainable climate-related infrastructure projects. We believe that these additional funds will go a long way towards building resilience and mitigating the impact of climate change in our region,” said Mrs. McKenzie.

The funds are being provided by AFD under a Credit Facility Agreement with CDB. AFD is the primary agency through which the Government of France provides funding for sustainable development projects. This marks the first time that CDB has accessed financing from AFD.

The Facility will be used by CDB to augment financing for infrastructure projects in several areas: renewable energy, water and sanitation, waste management, adaptation of infrastructure to the effects of climate change, protection of coasts and rivers. Countries that are eligible to benefit from this facility are: Antigua and Barbuda, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Suriname. The Facility is also complemented by a EUR3,000,000 technical assistance grant, which will finance feasibility studies for projects eligible for financing under the credit facility.

The agreement supports the improvement of Caribbean economies’ resilience and vitality through the development of sustainable infrastructure projects with significant environmental or climate impacts. It is in alignment with the Bank’s corporate priority of promoting environmental sustainability.

Credit: CDB

Heather-Lynn’s Habitat: US$15M Climate Change Project Announced

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Eight Caribbean countries will benefit from Japanese and United Nations financial assistance to help build their resilience to climate change.

On Thursday, the US$15 million Japan-Caribbean Climate Change Partnership was launched at the Radisson Aquatica Resort. It is a partnership between the Government of Japan and the United Nations Development Fund (UNDP). Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, St Vincent, St Lucia and Suriname are the countries benefiting from the project.

Minister-Counsellor and Deputy Head of Mission at the Embassy of Japan in Trinidad, Masatoshi Sato, said his government envisaged that the project will assist the eight regional countries in developing and implementing climate change policies and promoting the adopting of selected adaptation and mitigating technologies through various island projects.

He added that the US$15 million project to the eight countries was the forerunner to Japan fulfilling its COP 21 France pledge of approximately US$8.4 billion in public and private finance to developing countries.

“As such, Japan expects the project will enable the Caribbean countries to enhance their capacity to cope with climate change and natural disasters, thus assisting them in overcoming vulnerabilities particular to small island states,” the ambassador said.

He later told the Nation Japan had invited all CARICOM countries and the eight countries were the ones which had expressed an interest in the project.

“They are interested in making their countries more resilient to the impact of climate change,” he added.

Meanwhile, UNDP’s Resident Representative for Barbados and the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States, Stephen O’Malley, told the audience the project aimed to ensure that barriers to the implementation of climate resilient technologies were addressed and overcome in a participatory and efficient manner.

“There are many lessons we can learn from Japan and from each other and this project provides ample opportunity for the region to take advantage of Japanese experiences and knowledge, particularly as it relates to energy,” he said.

Also speaking was Director of the UNDP regional Bureau for Latin America and the Caribbean Regional Hub, Rebeca Arias, who said December’s Paris agreement must be the starting point of a new era of climate action.

“It must permanently shift the global development trajectory towards one that is zero carbon and risk-informed,” she said.

Arias added that the project will facilitate climate mitigation and adaptation activities in the eight countries and will help them move towards “a green, no emission development pathway”.

Credit: Nation News

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

Tackling climate change in the Caribbean

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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
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