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Nicaragua signs the Paris Agreement while UN urges the world to upscale climate policies

A month after Nicaragua announced its intention to join the Paris Agreement, the country officially committed to the landmark climate accord, – one day after UNFCCC published a new report urging policymakers to upscale existing and new climate policies in order for the Paris goals to be met.

President Daniel Ortega had announced his plans to sign the Paris Agreement last month, during a meeting with a delegation of Senior Executives from the World Bank.

Nicaragua’s Nationally Determined Contributions haven’t been submitted yet, but the country is already considered a renewable energy paradise, as it currently produces more than 50 percent of its power needs from clean energy and aims to increase this to 90 percent by 2020.

Rosario Murillo, Nicaragua’s Vice President and First Lady commented that the Paris Agreement “is the only instrument we have in the world that allows the unity of intentions and efforts to face up to climate change and natural disasters”.

Nicaragua constitutes a developing country, which is however threated disproportionally from the impacts of climate change like extreme weather events and it is particularly vulnerable to hurricanes.

In 2015, it refused to sign the Paris accord as it claimed the Agreement was too weak and it did not protect developing countries from climate change.

However, President Daniel Ortega decided that Nicaragua’s decision to join the Agreement will be done in support of these nations.

He had said: “We have to be in solidarity with this large number of countries that are the first victims, who are already the victims and are the ones who will continue to suffer the impact of these disasters and that are countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America, of the Caribbean, which are in highly vulnerable areas”.

To date, 169 countries have ratified the agreement and 165 countries have submitted their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs).

On Monday, UNFCCC published its “Climate Action Now: Summary for Policymakers 2017” based on recommendations from the Technical Expert Meetings on climate change mitigation and adaptation held in May 2017 in Bonn, and as part of the Marrakech Partnership for Global Climate Action that is working to support INDCs and National Climate Action Plans.

The report shed light on the importance of coordination and coherence of all three global agendas related to climate change, i.e. the Paris Agreement, the UN SDGs, and the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030.

For example, climate change mitigation action can bring co-benefits for adaptation and sustainable development; renewables can increase access to electricity as well as reduce emissions and more efficient and sustainable agriculture and forestry can contribute to adaptation too.

In addition, it stressed the importance of data and information availability, as a lot of data about the impacts of climate change and the associated risks are not available for many countries.

The report also mentions the complexity of measuring and verifying emissions from agriculture, forestry and other land use, stressing that this needs to be addressed soon.

You can read the full “Climate Action Now: Summary for Policymakers 2017” report here.

Credit: Climate Action Programme

Central American professionals learn about farmer citizen science for climate adaptation

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Central America Training

In August and September 2016, agricultural professionals in three Central American countries, Nicaragua, Honduras and Guatemala, learned about an exciting methodology to involve farmers as citizen scientists.

The methodology – called ‘tricot’ as an abbreviation from ‘triadic comparisons of technologies’ – has been designed by Bioversity International with the aim of reaching a large number of farmers with participatory trials for climate adaptation.

By involving a large number of farmers working in different production environments, the tricot methodology allows scientists to collect more data and increase their understanding of climate adaptation. It also serves as a bridge between research and development practice, by putting technologies to the test directly on the farm.

The trial format is simple: each farmer tests three agricultural technologies and judges the best and worst for different aspects of performance. These data are then matched with environmental data to be analyzed. So far, we have done trials to test crop varieties, but this methodology can be used to study also other agricultural technologies.

During the course, participants learned about the theory behind the new approach and had the opportunity to do practical exercises. One of the main tools they learned about is the ClimMob platform, which provides digital support throughout the testing process. ClimMob supports trial design, data collection with mobile phones, and data analysis and report creation.

Participants – 79 professionals representing 33 organizations including farmer organizations, development NGOs, agricultural research institutes and universities – did an example trial, designed their own project and discussed how this new methodology fits into new and ongoing activities.

In Nicaragua, participants decided to go for a larger trial than originally planned, now that they fully understood the methodology. In Honduras, participants discussed about how the new methodology fits in ongoing varietal testing schemes and decided to apply it to a wide range of crops. In Guatemala, the national agricultural research institute, ICTA, sent a large delegation of young researchers to learn about the new methodology. Brandon Madriz and Jacob van Etten of Bioversity International served as course instructors.

Course participants rated both the course and the platform. In each country, the course was rated as excellent. The platform, still in beta version, was rated by course participants as ‘good’ according to the widely used System Usability Score. During the course, participants provided many useful suggestions to improve the digital platform.

The course also served as the kick-off meeting of a new project on agrobiodiversity management for climate adaptation and food security, implemented by the Collaborative Program on Participatory Plant Breeding in Mesoamerica. The project, coordinated by the Guatemalan farmer organization Asocuch, is financed by the Benefit Sharing Fund of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture.

The tricot methodology will be used in this project, but the course participants also identified a large number of opportunities to use the platform beyond this particular project.

This research is part of the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security and supported by CGIAR Fund Donors.

Credit: Excerpt taken from the Agriculture in the News: issues affecting Caribbean agriculture 11-17 September 2016 

Caricom and climate change

On December 12 in Paris, France’s Foreign Minister, Laurent Fabius, brought to a close the UN climate change conference, COP 21.“I now invite the COP to adopt the decision entitled Paris Agreement outlined in the document,” he said, and then seconds later: “Looking out to the room I see that the reaction is positive, I see no objections. The Paris agreement is adopted.”

It was, according to some reports, an act of brinkmanship, as unresolved last minute concerns had been expressed by Nicaragua and there was, in a part of the final draft text, a difficulty surrounding US concerns about the use of the word ‘shall’ rather than the more discretionary word ‘should’; but with mysteriously, a typographical error being declared, the deal was done.

Apart from it demonstrating Mr Fabius’ outstanding ability to bring to a conclusion a multi-dimensional meeting in which unanimity was required if the world was ever to be able to address climate change; US concerns, driven by domestic politics, demonstrated how hard it may be for nations most at risk to obtain a viable outcome.

Caricom was ready for Paris. A task force had been set up two years ago and the region had a well-prepared position, a short-list of critical issues, and simple but memorable branding. In addition to a delegation led St Lucia’s Minister of Sustainable Development, Dr James Fisher, and the Caricom Secretary General, Irwin LaRoque, seven Caribbean Heads of Government travelled to Paris to express, at the opening, the region’s concerns, and to mobilise third-party support among the huge numbers of NGO’s, business interests, environmentalists and other present in Paris.

It was an outstanding example of where, in the pursuit of a common cause that touches everyone in the region, the regional institution can add real value and be an organisation to be proud of. It demonstrated in relation to important cross-cutting roles, a future for the secretariat.

For the Caribbean and other low lying small nations, for which sea level change and global warming are quite literally existential issues, what now is at stake is whether what has been agreed is deliverable; what the text means in practical terms; and how the region and other Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) intend ensuring that the many commitments made are delivered within the agreed time frame.

In outline, the thirty one page text agreed by 193 nations proposes that a balance between greenhouse gas emissions and the sinks for ameliorating them is achieved in the second half of this century. It emphasizes the need to hold the increase in the global average temperature well below 2C (36F) above pre-industrial levels, proposes ‘pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5C (35F)’, and that a peak in global greenhouse gas emissions be achieved as soon as possible. It accepts an asymmetrical approach enabling all developing countries – including large industrialised carbon emitters like China, India and Brazil – to have more time to adapt.

In a section that addresses loss and damage, it agrees a US$100bn annual minimum up to 2030 to enable support for mitigation and adaptation in developing nations, but does not accept there is any basis for compensation for loss and damage by carbon emitters. It also does not set a time scale for reaching greenhouse gas emission neutrality, or say anything about the shipping or aviation industries.

The problem for the Caribbean and all AOSIS’ 39 member states is whether what was agreed in Paris is prescriptive enough, or is so hedged round by the potential for opt-outs, delays, and unenforceability as to make it meaningless.

What it suggests that Caricom must now follow through, as the agreement as it stands is little more than an aspirational framework. Together with other AOSIS states it needs to determine how at the UN and in other fora it is going to hold the world to account for what has been agreed, then obtain, and successfully apply some of the money that will be available for both adaptation and mitigation.

This will not just be a test of the Caribbean’s staying power and the willingness of its governments to fund and support a continuing focus, but will also require that the region hold to account those countries that it supported during the negotiations. They will need to prove, when it comes to the Caribbean that their expressed concerns reflected more than just a need to obtain a satisfactory agreement. It is a position that will have to be deployed as much with China and Brazil as with the US and Europe.

In this, both Caricom and the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) will continue to have a critical role in coordinating the regional effort. But it will also be up to governments to maintain the political momentum, demonstrate a unity of purpose, and to be determined to pay attention to the Caribbean’s implementation deficit.

Climate change is an issue on which the Caribbean has had every reason to have its voice heard and be taken very seriously.  Fifty per cent of its population and the majority of the region’s productive enterprise and infrastructure lie within 1.2 miles of the sea. Its low lying nature, its fragile eco-systems, and extreme weather events demonstrate that it is a prime candidate to benefit from what has been agreed.

While countries in the region are often accused of allowing mendacity to drive their foreign policy, here is an example where the Caribbean deserves a transfer of resources if it, quite literally, is not to disappear beneath the sea.

Climate change also has a strategic importance. It enables the Caribbean to demonstrate an approach that owes more to the future than to the past; it is an issue on which it has a better chance to exert leverage; and one that can deliver national and regional development objectives. It is also an issue on which the region occupies the moral high ground and has popular international support.

Sea levels and water temperatures are rising and it will be some of the world’s smallest nations that will suffer first. Logic would therefore suggest that the Caribbean – a region of vulnerable, low or zero carbon emitting states – should be a significant early beneficiary of any resource transfer for adaptation. It is now up to Caricom to make this a public cause.

Credit: Dominican Today

E-Learning Course: Investment Planning Towards Low Carbon Climate Resilient Development

E-Learning Course 
Investment Planning Towards Low Carbon Climate Resilient Development

Last date to apply – November 17, 2014
Course Delivery Dates: December 1 – 12, 2014

http://einstitute.worldbank.org/ei/course/investment-planning-toward-low-emission-development

Introduction:
The course compiles knowledge and lessons learned during the design phase of the Climate Investment Funds (CIF) investment plans and strategic programs.

The objective of this course is to teach policy-makers, planners and climate change practitioners how to design and finance strategic plans and programs for low carbon and climate resilient development that go beyond a project-by-project approach.

Note: Preference will be given to (in the following order):

(i) national-level government policy-makers, planners and practitioners working in the fields of clean energy, sustainable transportation, energy efficiency, and climate change from the 14 countries invited to prepare SREP investment plans (Bangladesh, Benin, Cambodia, Ghana, Haiti, Kiribati, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Nicaragua, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Uganda, Zambia);

(ii) national-level government policy-makers, planners and practitioners working in the fields of clean energy, sustainable transportation, energy efficiency, and climate change from other developing countries; and

(iii) practitioners from development organizations or other institutions supporting countries in this work

Learning objectives:

  • Preparing an overall investment strategy to meet climate change objectives
  • Identifying envelopes of investments to meet those objectives, focusing on sectoral issues (energy, transport, forestry and land-use change)
  • Estimating real costs of investments and identifying sources of finance
  • Selecting and setting up the appropriate financial instruments
  • Involving the private sector to scale-up action
  • Undertaking the appropriate underlying technical, economic and financial analyses
  • Launching a national dialogue to shape the plan and ensure public participation
  • Addressing social issues, including gender
  • Managing results, monitoring and evaluation.

For Queries Contact:
Ms. Chandni Dinakaran at cdinakaran@worldbank.org

Link to Course Website and Application:

http://einstitute.worldbank.org/ei/course/investment-planning-toward-low-emission-development

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!

UNEP to develop first state of the marine environment report for Caribbean Sea

Water Quality Monitoring in Barbados Credits: Caribbean News Now

Water Quality Monitoring in Barbados
Credit: Caribbean News Now

As countries “Raised their Voices and Not the Sea Level” in celebration of World Environment Day, and prepare to commemorate World Oceans Day under the theme “Together We Have the Power to Protect the Oceans”, UNEP’s Caribbean Environment Programme (CEP) has committed to develop the first state of marine environment report for the Caribbean Sea.

Nelson Andrade Colmenares, coordinator of the Kingston-based UNEP office, which also serves as Secretariat to the Cartagena Convention for the Protection and Development of the Caribbean Sea, highlighted that “The development of such a report will be critical to obtain a better understanding of the current status of our coastal and marine resources, to identify trends as well as new threats”.

The UNEP CEP has been based in Jamaica for the past 27 years working with many partners to protect and sustain the Caribbean Sea and the goods and services which it provides for the people of the wider Caribbean region.

The sustainable development of the wider Caribbean region will require improved management of the region’s fragile marine resources and according to Andrade, “reliable and credible scientific data and information will be an invaluable decision-making tool, and assist in the evaluation of the effectiveness of existing national policies, laws and regulations.”

The first state of marine environment report for the Caribbean will build upon efforts by many regional agencies, projects and partners who have been working with UNEP CEP for the protection and development of the wider Caribbean region. The detailed content and approach will be discussed at an upcoming meeting of regional technical and scientific experts to be held in Nicaragua from June 10 to 13 who will be discussing a range of issues relating to the pollution of the marine environment.

The Caribbean Environment Programme is one of the UNEP’s regional seas programmes, which celebrates its 40th anniversary this year – International Year for SIDS. More than 143 countries participate in the 13 regional seas programmes globally and it has emerged as an inspiring example of how to implement a regional approach to protecting the coastal and marine environment while effectively managing the use of natural resources.

Christopher Corbin, programme officer with responsibility for pollution at the UNEP CEP office, outlined that, as the Secretariat begins the development of this regional report, new communication and outreach materials have also been developed that will be launched on World Oceans Day this year. These include a new website (www.cep.unep.org) and a new video that showcases the value of the Caribbean Sea, major sources and impacts of pollution and the benefits of regional agreements such as the Cartagena Convention and the protocol concerning pollution from land-based sources and activities (LBS Protocol).

Poor land use and agricultural practices and the lack of effective wastewater and industrial treatment contribute a range of pollutants such as sediment, fertilizers, pesticides, heavy metals, pathogens, oil and nutrients directly or indirectly into the Caribbean Sea. Pollution not only poses threats to human health but can negatively impact on coral reefs, which provide US$375 million in goods and services annually to coastal economies through activities such as tourism, fisheries and maritime transportation.

These new communication and outreach efforts along with the increased use of social media such as Facebook and Twitter will ensure that information on the marine environment is not only used to improve national and regional decision-making but to improve awareness of why we need to protect the Caribbean Sea and its vulnerable yet valuable resources.

Credits: Island Resources Foundation (IRF), Caribbean News Now
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