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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

5Cs Wins Energy Globe Award for Renewable Energy and Potable Water Project in Bequia, St Vincent and the Grenadines

St.Vincent_and_theGrenadines_banner2015

SVG Certificate

The Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) received the 2015 Energy Globe Award for its renewable energy and potable water work in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. Energy Globe, an internationally recognized trademark for sustainability, is one of the most important environmental prizes today with 177 participating countries. The award, which is made from a cross-section of over 1, 500 entries annually, is given in recognition of outstanding performance in terms of energy efficiency, renewable energy and resource conservation.

The CCCCC won the 2015 Energy Globe National Award for the project “Special Programme for Adaptation to Climate Change”. The project was executed on the island of Bequia in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and focuses on the production and provision of clean drinking water for more than 1,000 people. This is being done through the acquisition and installation of a reverse osmosis desalination plant. The project is deemed highly sustainable as the water input is inexhaustible sea water and the energy used is solar, a renewable, carbon-free source.

 Learn more about the project!

The landmark project was also presented by Energy Globe as part of a global online campaign (www.energyglobe.info) on World Environment Day. The campaign ran under the patronage of UNESCO and in cooperation with UNEP and received significant recognition.

“To be honoured with this award is a great recognition of our work for a better environment and motivates us to continue our endeavours in the future,” – Henrik Personn, Renewable Energy Expert, CCCCC

Since completing this key project, we have applied the lessons learned in Belize and on the Grenadian islands of Petite Martinique and Carriacou. Review the poster below to learn more about the progress we are making in Grenada:

Credit: CCCCC

Do you have an excellent project? Submit it for the Energy Globe Award 2016. Review the details on www.energyglobe.info.

Regional environment group wants Caribbean to benefit from global funds

The Belize-based Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) says it is working towards ensuring that the region benefits significantly from the Green Climate Fund (GCF) as well as the Adaptation Fund (AF) established to help countries worldwide deal with the impact of climate change.

Executive director Dr. Kenrick Leslie says the Centre, under a directive from CARICOM leaders, has been “working with national governments to put together programmes that would help them develop bankable projects that can be funded under the various mechanisms under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

“The Centre is putting maximum effort to ensure CARICOM Member States get their fair share of the Green Climate Fund (GCF), Adaptation Fund (AF) and other funds to help them in their adaptation efforts. That is our primary thrust— to meet the mandate given to us by the regional heads,” he said,

He said the CCCCC has applied to be a regional implementing entity for the Adaptation Fund, and is strengthening its capacity by establishing a Monitoring and Evaluation Unit to better prepare it to function as an implementing agency with the requisite technical capacity to institute projects on par with international organizations operating in the region.

“The new Unit will also advance the Centre’s capacity to advise and help governments develop, monitor and evaluate programmes in accordance with its mandate as the region’s key node of information and action on climate change.”

The CCCCC board of governors held its annual meeting here on Sunday and according to a statement issued Monday, the meeting agreed to strengthen its fiduciary oversight through a Finance and Audit Sub-Committee of the Board of Governors, annual internal audits, and increased focus on data and plant security.

Chairman of the Board of Governors, Dr. Leonard Nurse, says these changes were necessary given the Centre’s shift from a project-based orientation to more programmatic activities in a bid to ensure its long-term sustainability.

He said the Centre, which is primarily funded through grants and not government subventions, is moving towards establishing a Trust Fund with Trinidad and Tobago providing one million US dollars in seed money.

Nurse said that the Fund will be an independent arrangement administrated by the Barbados-based Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) allowing the Centre to co-finance projects and fund project priorities over the long-term.

According to the communiqué, the CCCCC will work with the Trinidad-based Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) in developing “joint proposals aimed at reducing the region’s vulnerability and building resilience to the likely effects of climate change across a myriad of areas of mutual interest”.

The Board agreed that the Centre will deepen engagement with the private sector to ensure broad utilisation of the seminal Caribbean Climate Online Risk and Adaptation Tool (CCORAL), as well as expand its youth focused public education work.

The CCCCC said that public-private partnerships (PPP) were essential to advance the Centre’s multipronged approach to building climate resilience in the region.

It said it had successfully used this approach to implement projects, such as the installation of reverse osmosis desalination facilities in Bequia, Petite Martinique and Carriacou, to improve access to potable water.

The Belize-based regional organisation said that in order to meet the emerging challenges and demonstrate its commitment towards a low carbon development pathway, it has reinforced its support for the construction of facilities to carry out the Centre’s operations.

“The Government of Belize has allocated 10 acres of land to the Centre, on which a custom-designed, ‘green’ facility will be constructed. The Centre is in the process of seeking financing to undertake this initiative. This development comes as the Centre prepares to celebrate its 10th Anniversary,” the communiqué added.

Also see 5Cs Concludes Annual Board of Governors Meeting
Credit: CMC

5Cs Concludes Annual Board of Governors Meeting: Expanded partnerships with CARPHA, Deeper Private Sector Partnerships, New Member and Heightened Outreach Announced

Credit: Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre. Not for use without written permission.

Credit: Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre. Not for use without written permission.

Placencia, Belize; June 29, 2015― The Board of Governors of the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre concluded its annual meeting (June 25 -28) in Placencia, Belize yesterday.  The Board agreed that the Centre  will deepen engagement with the private sector to ensure broad utilisation of the seminal Caribbean Climate Online Risk and Adaptation Tool (CCORAL), pursue closer collaboration with the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA, which includes the former CEHI ), expand its youth focused public education work and welcome at least one new beneficiary country.

Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) are essential to advance the Centre’s multipronged approach to building climate resilience in the region. The Centre successfully used this approach to implement projects, such as  the installation of  reverse osmosis desalination facilities  in Bequia, Petite Martinique and Carriacou, to improve access to potable water. Leveraging this approach to improve the uptake of CCORAL will be a key feature of the Centre’s work in the coming year. CCORAL , which was launched by the Centre in July 2013, is an online support tool developed to strengthen climate resilient decision-making processes across various sectors in the Caribbean by embedding a risk ethic. It has been endorsed by regional and international partners, including the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The Centre has been working with the Caribbean Development Bank, its long-standing partner and a permanent member of the 11 member Board of Governors, and other development partners to mobilise private sector support for the tool. The Board also notes that the Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility (CCRIF) is a natural partner for the success of the tool at the regional level.

Following a special presentation to the Board of Governors in 2014  by Dr C.J Hospedales, CARPHA’s Executive Director, the Centre is moving to deepen collaboration with the region’s premier health agency. The two entities are expected to collaborate to develop joint proposals aimed at reducing the region’s vulnerability and  building  resilience to the likely effects of climate change across a myriad of areas of mutual interest.

The success of the Centre’s new engagements will also offer an opportunity to advance its public education work. The Centre successfully piloted a network of school-based environmental clubs in Belmopan, Belize this year. This initiative includes 60 to 90 minute weekly meetings, experiential learning, highly interactive group exercises and discussions. This comprehensive youth focused outreach initiative, which also included the first Belize – Mexico Student Exchange on Climate Change, will be a key  element of the Centre’s public engagement moving forward. The network of clubs will be rolled out across Belize and in three other CARICOM countries over the next 12 months.

To meet the emerging challenges and demonstrate its commitment towards a low carbon development pathway, the Board also reinforced its support for the construction of facilities to carry out the Centre’s operations. The Centre is currently housed in rented facilities provided by the Government of  Belize. The Government of Belize has allocated 10 acres of land to the Centre, on which a custom-designed, ‘green’ facility will be constructed. The Centre  is in the process of seeking financing to undertake  this initiative. This development comes as the Centre prepares to celebrate its 10th Anniversary. The Board greatly appreciates the goodwill of the Centre’s host government  in areas including and beyond the provision of property for the future facility and also welcomes similar offers from the University of Belize.

As the Centre expands and matures it is looking to welcome a new member. The Centre expects Martinique to become an Associate Member in the medium term, which would bring the total beneficiary countries to 15. The Board of Governors is aware that all countries in the region, whether English-, French- or Dutch-speaking are highly vulnerable to the risks posed by global climate change, as they are exposed to the same threats such as rising air and sea surface temperatures, changing rainfall patterns sea-level rise and changes in the behaviour of extreme weather and climate-related extreme events. It is against this background that the Board welcomed the application of Martinique for Associate Membership.

The Centre has expanded rapidly since it commenced operations in 2005, having developed the capacity to successfully execute a suite of regional climate change related programmes worth between US$40 and US$50 million over the last five years. The Centre continued the execution of eight medium to large projects/programmes over the last twelve months. The Centre’s most recent programme is a €12.8 million initiative to address ecosystems-based adaptation under an agreement with the German Development Bank (KfW). The KfW supported engagement seeks to protect the region’s extensive coastal resources through a combination of ecosystems-based adaptation and environmental engineering approaches that will also embed livelihood considerations as a core element of the programme.   The comprehensive investment under the initiative developed by the Centre, in conjunction with the KfW, will focus on enhancing the resilience of the region’s coastal resources to the impacts of climate change and climate variability.

VIDEO: Climate Change Projects in the Caribbean:

Executive Director Dr. Kenrick Leslie says the Centre, under a directive from CARICOM Heads, has been “working with national governments to put together programmes that would help them develop bankable projects that can be funded under the various mechanisms under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The Centre is putting maximum effort to ensure CARICOM Member States get their fair share of the Green Climate Fund (GCF), Adaptation Fund (AF) and other funds to help them in their adaptation efforts. That is our primary thrust— to meet the mandate given to us by the regional Heads.”

Accordingly, the Centre has applied to be a regional implementing entity for the Adaptation Fund, and is strengthening its capacity by establishing a Monitoring and Evaluation Unit to better prepare it to function as an implementing agency with the requisite technical capacity to institute projects on par with international organizations operating in the region. The new Unit will also advance the Centre’s capacity to advise and help governments develop, monitor and evaluate programmes in accordance with its mandate as the region’s key node of information and action on climate change. Following decisions taken at last year’s Board of Governors meeting, the Board has strengthened its fiduciary oversight through a Finance and Audit Sub-Committee of the Board of Governors, annual  internal audits,   and increased focus on data and plant security.

Chairman of the Board of Governors, Dr. Leonard Nurse, says these changes are necessary given the Centre’s shift from a project-based orientation to more programmatic activities in a bid to ensure its long-term sustainability. He notes that the Centre, which is primarily funded through grants and not government subventions, is swiftly advancing efforts to set up a Trust Fund. The Fund, which has been seeded with US$1M from the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, will be an independent arrangement administrated by the CDB that would allow the Centre to co-finance projects and fund project priorities over the long-term.

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The Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre coordinates the region’s response to climate change. Officially opened in August 2005, the Centre is the key node for information on climate change issues and the region’s response to managing and adapting to climate change. We maintain the Caribbean’s most extensive repository of information and data on climate change specific to the region, which in part enables us to provide climate change-related policy advice and guidelines to CARICOM member states through the CARICOM Secretariat. In this role, the Centre is recognized by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the United Nations Environment Programme, and other international agencies as the focal point for climate change issues in the Caribbean. The Centre is also a United Nations Institute for Training and Research recognised Centre of Excellence, one of an elite few. Learn more about how we’re working to make the Caribbean more climate resilient by perusing The Implementation Plan.

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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).

Reverse Osmosis Plant soon to be reality on Carriacou

Reverse Osmosis Project- Carriacou and Petite Martinique

Reverse Osmosis Project- Carriacou and Petite Martinique

The problem of low water supply, especially during the dry season, will soon be a thing of the past for residents of  Carriacou.

The equipment for the setting up of two reverse osmosis plants has begun arriving.

Mark Bynoe, Environmental Economist with the CARICOM Climate Change Centre, the funding agency, is on island along with a team from the Centre, to ensure everything is in place for the setting of the two plants.

The project is being done in partnership with the National Water and Sewerage Authority (NaWASA) and the Grenada Electricity Services Ltd (GRENLEC).

Bynoe said that the project which stemmed from the Ministry of Carriacou and Petite Martinique Affairs Sustainable Development Plan; is a way of improving water security on the island in the face of a changing climate.

The plants should be up and running by September 2014 on both islands, however Bynoe noted that in the interim water distribution will be focused in the town of Hillsborough; with the view of expanding later while the entire island of Petite Martinique will be serviced by the plant there.

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Carriacou and Petite Martinique Affairs Bernadette Lendore-Sylvester said the setting up of the reverse osmosis plants is a welcomed initiative as the Government is working towards alleviating the problems associated with the dry season.

The treatment plant for the reverse osmosis plant for Carriacou will be set up on the grounds of the old desalination plant in Seaview.

Presently, the people of the twin isle parish largely depend on rainwater harvesting to meet their potable water needs.

Credit: The Official Website of the Government of Grenada

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