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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

Caribbean environmental experts explore climate change and public health responses

Flooding in Cuba *Photo credits: IPS News

Flooding in Cuba *Photo credits: IPS News

The Caribbean, mainly comprised of small island nations, is the world’s most tourist-dependent region, and one of the most vulnerable to the negative impacts of climate change.

Within recent times, the Region has experienced more frequent and severe storms and hurricanes, increases in mosquito-borne diseases, rises in sea level, prolonged periods of drought and salt water intrusion of coastal groundwater sources, which pose a significant threat to human health.

Recognizing the critical need to be more climate change resilient, the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) in collaboration with the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO), UNEP-Caribbean Regional Coordinating Unit (UNEP CAR-RCU), and the Government of Saint Lucia, will host a Conference to address issues related to climate change and health.

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CARPHA Executive Director Dr. James Hospedales said that because Climate Change threatens traditional public health infrastructure, the focus will be on environmental health services.

Executive Director, CARPHA, Dr. C. James Hospedales explained that “climate change threatens traditional public health infrastructure. It will stress environmental health services, such as efforts to respond to severe weather events and disease outbreaks, provide assurance of drinking water safety, and implement vector control measures.

At the same time measures like alternative transport such as biking and walking and rapid mass transport can improve population health, mitigate climate change through reduced greenhouse gas emissions, improve energy security, and reduce the import bill for oil.”  He added that the Conference “will bring together government representatives, and regional and international organizations to address issues of public health, environment and socio-economic well-being.”

The meeting, which will be held at the Golden Palm Conference Centre in Saint Lucia, runs from November 18 – 20 November, 2015, and will serve as a platform for information-sharing, and also as a “think tank” for developing innovative, Caribbean-specific solutions to our environmental health and sustainable development challenges.

Agenda items include discussions on preparations for Zika Virus and recent experiences with Chikungunya; food and water security; achievements of the Caribbean Cooperation for Health III; and a Caribbean Environmental Health Officers and Partners Planning Session.

Credit: St. Lucia News Online

Regional climate change meeting held in Saint Lucia

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PRESS RELEASE – The Ministry of Sustainable Development, Energy, Science and Technology in collaboration with the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) and the High Level Support Mechanism (HLSM) hosted a regional meeting for climate change negotiators and ministers with responsibility for climate change from Wednesday 16th September, 2015 to Friday 18th September, 2015 in Saint Lucia.

The meeting, which was requested by Prime Minister, Hon. Dr. Kenny D. Anthony, at the last meeting of CARICOM Heads in Barbados, had three objections:

  1. Establish coherence among negotiators on the critical issues in the negotiations toward a new climate change agreement in Paris in December 2015;
  2. Apprise of the areas of convergence and divergence in the ongoing climate change negotiations;
  3. Prepare Ministers for a meeting of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) in New York today, Thursday ,24th September, 2015. The meetings is taking place on the eve of the Post 2015 Development Agenda Summit.

Saint Lucia holds lead responsibility for climate change and sustainable development within CARICOM.

Credit: St. Lucia News Online (Edited)

Caribbean Strives to Protect Coastal and Marine Ecosystems

Coral colony off the Rosario Islands, Colombia | Photo: EFE

Coral colony off the Rosario Islands, Colombia | Photo: EFE

The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) is partnering with a number of governments as it strives to help boost the resilience of member states to climate change. 

The CARICOM region, with its 15 islands, is considered one of the world’s most important areas of biodiversity. The region is now moving fast towards the sustainable management of both marine areas and coastal resources.

A new partnership between CARICOM and the German government involves the protection of these precious resources from the impacts of climate change.

“Our story is about how we were able to set the boundaries in terms of the fisheries reserve. You realise now as ecotourism, as the product developed, we have more users of the area. We need to protect the reef. We need to protect the fisheries industry,” says Anthony Charles, representative of the Soufriere Marine Management Agency. That body is responsible for protecting over 12 kilometres of rich biodiversity, including mountains, rivers, active volcanoes and coral reefs.

Charles says partnerships with friendly governments are crucial in continuing efforts to combat the challenges posed to these resources, particularly diminishing fish stocks.

“The generation of fisher(s) that we had 15 years ago is completely different to what we have today and clearly education, advocacy is very important because we realise it’s not just the matter of the fishing industry, it’s the protection and the sustainable use of our resources,” he said.

Representative of the German government Michael Freudenberg says the partnership with CARICOM is based on a commitment to develop renewable energy and energy efficiency.

“The Caribbean is particularly vulnerable to the observed and projected impacts of climate change because of its geographic location and reliance on natural resources for economic activities and livelihoods … Germany supports regional cooperation as a tool to combine our efforts for the countries affected by climate change and under-development. Saint Lucia can bear witness, I think, to climate-related disasters and the effects of national resilience and national solidarity,” he said.

The experts say climate change is negatively impacting on the sustainability and resilience of the marine ecosystem, diminishing erosion protection and natural barriers that protect against storm surges and rising sea levels. This is impacting sectors like tourism and fisheries, which directly depend upon the quality of the marine environment.

The coastal and marine ecosystems of the Caribbean are among the most threatened in the world. CARICOM is hoping that by strengthening relations with friendly governments, it can ensure the prudent management and use of those resources.

Credit: TeleSurTV

Saint Lucia moving to improve energy efficiency in buildings

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Saint Lucia is to join the regional movement, alongside four other Caribbean Community (CARICOM) islands, to identify ways to improve energy efficiency in buildings.

A regional training workshop on Simulation Tools for Energy Efficiency in Caribbean Buildings, commenced today at the National ICT Centre, Bourbon Street, Castries, Saint Lucia.

The workshop, held March 9th-12th 2015, is a major activity of the Global Environment Facility-United Nations Environment Programme (GEF-UNEP) Energy for Sustainable Development in Caribbean Buildings (ESD) Project.

The continued total dependence of the region on importation of petroleum products is no longer an option for our continued growth and development. To help us in this regard, the ESD project was launched in April 2013, and is piloting energy efficiency improvements in the economy of participating member states in CARICOM.

The Caribbean region imports in excess of 170 million barrels of petroleum products, annually, with 30 million barrels used in the electric sector, and since buildings are major consumers of electricity across the region, the project focuses on the buildings sector for improving the efficiency of energy use.

A recent study revealed that ninety one (91) percent of the total electricity sold in Saint Lucia is consumed in buildings and 33 percent of the total commercial energy – that is both electricity and petroleum products – is consumed in buildings.

Participation in the ESD Project is a direct indication of the Government’s commitment to addressing the consumption of energy in buildings as the government moves to make its own buildings more energy efficient and provides incentives for the implementation of energy efficiency measures in the country.

This project is being implemented by the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Climate Change Centre (5Cs/CCCCC), and involving five pilot countries: Grenada, Antigua and Barbuda, Belize, Saint Lucia, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

The project’s objective is to transfer and implement sustainable energy policies, instruments and knowledge in the Caribbean countries through the promotion of energy efficiency applications and renewable energy use within the residential and public building sector. The aim is to achieve a minimum reduction of 20 percent in electricity use through the pilot activities that are to take place during 2014 – 2017.

The Simulation Tools for Energy Efficiency in Caribbean Buildings Training Workshop is an activity that represents a significant investment toward building the country’s capacity to manage the transition to a low carbon economy and to meet our National Sustainable Energy Goals and those of the Caribbean Sustainable Energy Road Map and Strategy (C-SERMS) for implementation of the renewable energy (RE) and energy efficiency (EE) dimensions of the CARICOM Energy Policy. This will also allow for successful implementation of efficient lighting retrofits both in the private and public sectors.

The Training Workshop on Simulation Tools for Energy Efficiency in Caribbean Buildings is designed to sensitize modellers and engineers on the value and opportunities of eQUEST  and RETScreen  in a building assessment protocol.

This workshop incorporates face-to-face and virtual interaction where participants will receive informed guidance on the use of eQUEST and RETScreen software programs.

Credit: St. Lucia News Online

The CUF5 – Call for Papers

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The Saint Lucia Institute of Land Use Planners, Ministry of Physical Development, Housing and Urban Renewal, Saint Lucia, The Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), Caribbean Network for Urban and Land Management (CNULM), Caribbean Local Economic Development Project (CARILED), Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UNHABITAT), and Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat will jointly host the fifth annual Caribbean Urban Forum, referred to as CUF5, from June 10th -12th, 2015, at Bay Gardens Hotel, Castries, Saint Lucia.

The Forum will bring together land managers, policy makers, academics and allied professionals interested in urban and land management issues within the Caribbean in an effort to further advance land and urban management within the region.

The main theme for the conference is “Island Systems Planning”.  Whether island or continental, the Caribbean countries share similar developmental issues and are considered Small Island Developing States (SIDS).  From previous CUFs, Island Systems Planning has been a topic that is continuously referred to.  For this reason we thought it fitting that it should be the theme for CUF5.

At this time we issue an International Call for Papers for CUF5.  The papers may focus on the following themes:

  1. Island Systems Planning
  2. Sustainable Land Management in the face of Climate Change
  3. Local Economic Development for the Caribbean
  4. Moving towards Energy Efficiency: Alternatives and Opportunities
  5. Professional Planning Practice, Education and Training in the Caribbean
  6. Habitat III Agenda – The role of Small Island States in the Habitat Agenda
  7. Housing Policy in the Caribbean: Lessons Learned and New Directions
  8. Sustainable Development in St. Lucia

Deadline for submission of Papers is March 31st 2015.  At this time we also issue a Call for Exhibitors. Please click CUF5_Call_for_Papers to download the full document.

Credit: Blue Space Caribbean

Designation as “special areas” in the Caribbean

The Wider Caribbean Region (WCR) has the greatest concentration of plant and animal species in the Atlantic Ocean Basin.  Yet these precious, and often irreplaceable, natural resources are disappearing at an astounding rate. The vast majority of all species are threatened by habitat loss or modification in addition to unsustainable practices such as over-fishing, unplanned coastal development and pollution. These same habitats are often the main source of food and income for many coastal communities.

The Protocol Concerning Specially Protected Areas and Wildlife (SPAW) of the Cartagena Convention, is a regional agreement for biodiversity management and conservation in the Wider Caribbean Region, in existence since 1990. It is managed by the United Nations Caribbean Environment Programme (CEP) and it became international law in 2000.  It aims to protect critical marine and coastal ecosystems while promoting regional co-operation and sustainable development.

To date, sixteen countries from the region have ratified the Protocol: The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Colombia, Cuba, Dominican Republic, France (through its Departments of Guadeloupe, Guyane, Martinique, Saint-Barthélémy and Saint-Martin), Grenada, Guyana, The Netherlands (Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao, Saba, Sint-Eustatius and Sint Maarten), Panama, Saint-Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, United States, and Venezuela.

Since 2012 SPAW has created a regional network of protected areas (PAs) or key conservation sites listed by the member governments under the Protocol. Under this network these sites benefit from a cooperation programme supported by SPAW, which includes: increased recognition and awareness as places of importance locally, regionally and globally; increased local and national pride resulting in national responsibility to support management; higher visibility with the possible result of increases in employment opportunities and income due to increased tourism marketing of the area; grants and technical assistance provided through SPAW; opportunities for enhancing capacity, management, protection and sustainability; and, opportunities for support  of species conservation, pollution control and sustainable finance.

Countries which are party to the Protocol are invited to apply for their protected areas to be so listed using online forms.  To be selected, sites must satisfy a rigorous set of ecological as well as cultural and socio-economic criteria.  Applications are reviewed by the UN SPAW secretariat as well as by external experts prior to their approval by the Protocol’s scientific committee and it’s biennial Conference of Parties (COP). On 9th December 2014, in Cartagena, Colombia, the Protocol’s Eighth COP approved thirteen new protected areas:

  • The Regional Natural Park of wetlands between the Rivers León and Suriquí, Colombia
  • The Saba National Marine Park, the Kingdom of the Netherlands
  • The Saint Eustatius National Marine Park, the Kingdom of the Netherlands
  • The Man O War Shoal Marine Park (Sin t Maarten), the Kingdom of the Netherlands
  • The Reserve “Etang des Salines”, Martinique, France
  • The Reserve “Versants Nord de la Montagne Pelée, Martinique, France
  • The Port Honduras Marine Reserve, Belize
  • La Caleta Submarine Park, Dominican Republic
  • National Park Jaragua, Dominican Republic
  • Reserve “Los Haitises”, Dominican Republic
  • National Park “Sierra de Bahoruco”, Dominican Republic
  • Tobago Cays Marine Park, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
  • “Molinière Beauséjour” Marine Protected Area, Grenada

These protected areas vary greatly in description and characteristics.  However they all meet the criteria for listing under SPAW.  These include ecological value, and cultural and socio-economic benefits.  A quick look at two of the areas listed illustrates this.

The Saint Eustatius National Marine Park, established in 1996 in the Eastern Caribbean, is only 27.5 square kilometres in area and extends around the entire island of Saint Eustatius, from the high water line to 30 metre depth contour. It protects a variety of habitats, including pristine coral reefs and 18th century shipwrecks. It includes two no-take zones (reserves) as well as general use zones and designated anchoring zones for large commercial ships.  There is high biodiversity in its coral reefs and a wide variety of tropical reef creatures resides in and around these reefs as well, including the commercially important lobster and conch, key predators such as sharks and the endangered Sea Horses.  Three species of sea turtles (all of them are endangered or critically endangered species) nest regularly on the island’s Zeelandia Beach – the leatherback, the greenand the hawksbill. Dolphins and large whales regularly visit and can often be heard as they migrate through the Marine Park between January and April.   A number of birds live almost exclusively in the open ocean environment, using St Eustatius as a breeding ground or migratory stop over, such as the Audubon’s Shearwater Puffins and Red Billed Tropicbirds.

St Eustatius is also site of Statia Terminals, an oil transhipment facility, including one of the deepest mooring stations for super tankers in the world, located immediately south of the northern marine reserve on the West coast and which has been in operation since 1982 and expanded in 1993. It employs 10 per cent of the island’s population.  During the 18th century, this was one of the busiest ports in the world, hence the presence of shipwrecks within the marine park up to today.

In contrast, the Port Honduras Marine Reserve (PHMR), established in 2000, in Belize is 405 square kilometres in area and has three adjacent and nearby human settlements: Monkey River, Punta Negra and Punta Gorda.  It is unique along the coast of Central America in lagoon system size and the number of in-shore mangrove islands. It is in relatively pristine condition and includes coastal and tidal wetlands, marine lagoons, and mangrove islands with associated shallow banks and fringing coral reefs. Almost all of the coastal and island vegetation, including mangroves, is intact.  Maintaining coastal ecosystem functions and natural resource values, including water quality and nursery habitats of the area, is important in order to protect biodiversity and traditional fishers’ livelihoods.  It is a major breeding and nursery area for juveniles of many species. Threats are expected to increase as the area is attracting more visitors for fly-fishing and sailing.

The SPAW Protocol and the listing of Marine Protected Areas is driven by the need to first recognize sites of great regional and international ecological and socio-economic value and then put measures in place to protect and conserve these areas.  The Caribbean’s rich and beautiful natural heritage deserves our best efforts while also protecting the sustainable livelihoods of coastal communities.

To find out more about the SPAW Protocol and the work of the Caribbean Environment Programme see: www.cep.unep.org and www.car-spaw-rac.org

For further information: 
 Alejandro Laguna - Comunication and Information Officer
 United Nations Environment Programme, Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean
 Clayton, Ciudad del Saber - Alberto Tejada, Building 103; Ancon - Panama City, Panama.
 Phone.: 305 3100
 alex.laguna@unep.org

Credit: UNEP Environment for Development

Saint Lucian fishermen peg hopes on common fisheries policy

Fisherman John Francis, 60, prepares to head to sea in his boat. THOMSON REUTERS FOUNDATION/Alison Kentish

John Francis was just 17 when he began fishing more than four decades ago. But these days, the 60-year-old fisherman from Praslin, on the east coast of the Caribbean island of Saint Lucia, finds it hard to make a living.

“There used to be money in fishing. In the 70s, 80s and 90s I used to catch 500-600 pounds (230-270 kg) of fish a day,” he said. Now, “things have changed. These days I am lucky if I catch 500 pounds of fish in two weeks.”

Just as worrying, “the sea is different. I cannot explain it, but it looks like there are less and less fish, warmer temperatures and really bad storms,” he said.

He and other fishermen hit by over-fishing and climate change may soon win some relief, however, as a result of a common fisheries policy negotiated by ministers from 15 Caribbean countries to better conserve and manage the remaining fish.

The hard-won policy, announced last month, follows 10 years of negotiations by the Belize-based Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM).

Milton Houghton, the CRFM’s executive director, says the policy should aid sustainable management of the region’s over-exploited fisheries, improve food security and reduce poverty.

The policy “heralds a new era in cooperation in the conservation, management and use of marine resources,” he said.

The policy will establish a common fishing zone while allowing member states to retain management of their territorial seas. It also improves arrangements for the management of fish stocks in the Caribbean, which are presently not subject to any management regime.

For the fishermen of Saint Lucia, this could mean they will have access to greater fish reserves and a wider fishing area, albeit one with strict conservation and management measures.

Climate Change Impacts

Albert George, a 56-year-old fisherman, says he is happy that governments in the Caribbean are finally paying attention to the fishing, which he considers a crucial business, behind only agriculture in importance.

George hopes the new policy will protect fish stocks and help fishermen across the island cope with the effects of climate change, which he says have made it hard for him to make ends meet.

“The changes are everywhere,” George said. “I see the difference in the sea level and wind currents. Every year we fear the hurricane season because the storms are getting worse.

“We live on the coast and feed our families from the sea, and these days we can barely afford to send our children to school. We do not catch the amount of fish that we used to five years ago,” he said.

According to George, each fishing trip requires 1,000 East Caribbean dollars ($370) worth of fuel, but he often returns with a catch worth less than 10 percent of the fuel cost.

Changing Fish Ranges

Marine biologist Susan Singh-Renton, who served as the scientific advisor to the 15-nation CARICOM for over two decades and is now deputy executive director of the CRFM, said Caribbean fisheries face a range of pressures, including changes in the range of some fish.

“There are many challenges. Large fish such as dolphin, kingfish and tuna are being affected,” she said. “With the warming of sea water, the natural range of the fish becomes extended and they are able to move away; they are moving northward.”

For the past two years, the fishers’ problems have been exacerbated by the proliferation of an invasive species, lion fish, in Caribbean waters. Saint Lucia, Barbados and the Bahamas have eradication programmes in place.

“Sometimes we realise that our fish pots are filled, only to raise them and discover that out of 100 pounds of fish, the lion fish makes up 70-80 pounds. People are afraid of that fish and it is taking over our waters. Soon, we will not have any other fish left,” said Jeannette Francis, a fisherman unrelated to John Francis.

Despite regional efforts to encourage Caribbean people to view lion fish as a food, fishermen say it is a hard sell to those who have preferred tuna, dolphin and shellfish for decades.

According to data provided by the CRFM, the fisheries sector provides direct employment for 338,000 people in the region, generating $251 million in revenue annually.

Those involved in fishing in Saint Lucia are cautiously optimistic that the new policy will produce results – but some say they need to wait and see.

“We have had it with the talk. We just want action. We want to see people who can make things better actually do that for us,” said Margaret Jn Baptiste, 56, who has been fishing since she was 16.

“I believe it is always good when countries in the Caribbean come together to deal with a situation, but there is too much talk. We want to see the difference. They do not understand that our lives depend on this.”

Credit: Reuters News

All 16 CCRIF member countries renew hurricane and earthquake insurance for 2013/2014

Cave Karst

The sixteen member governments of the Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility (CCRIF) renewed their hurricane and earthquake insurance for the 2013/14 policy year that started June 1. Since CCRIF’s inception in 2007 – and despite increasing economic and financial pressures – member countries have recognised the value of including CCRIF’s parametric hurricane and earthquake coverage in their national disaster risk management strategies.

This year was no different, especially given that the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicted an active 2013 Atlantic Hurricane Season with more and stronger hurricanes than usual. For the six-month hurricane season, which began June 1, NOAA stated there was a 70 percent likelihood of 13 to 20 named storms – well above the seasonal average of 12 named storms.

In light of the budgetary constraints felt by countries across the region, CCRIF sought again this year to minimise premium costs. For the 2013/14 policies, CCRIF provided a 25% discount on premiums because no payouts were made by CCRIF in 2012/13, resulting in an underwriting surplus for the organisation, which is run as a not-for-profit entity. Also, countries could apply a portion of their Participation Fee (a deposit paid when they initially became a CCRIF member) toward their premium payment and had the option to lower the minimum attachment point for tropical cyclones (hurricanes) from a fifteen-year to a ten-year return period. These all led to a reduction in the effective cost of coverage to countries this year by at least 25% but in some cases up to 50%.

The Facility also added the new excess rainfall product to its portfolio of offerings to Caribbean governments for 2013/14. This product specifically covers extreme rainfall events, from both cyclonic systems and from non-cyclonic systems. It should be noted that rainfall is not included in CCRIF’s current hurricane policies, which trigger based on damage from wind and storm surge. Many countries have consistently expressed interest in excess rainfall coverage and in fact, the new product is of interest to countries which are not yet CCRIF members since they are not vulnerable to hurricanes or earthquakes but have significant extreme rainfall risk.

CCRIF recognises that rainfall is a leading cause of damage in the Caribbean – not only during hurricanes but throughout the year, and is seeking ways to enable countries in the region to obtain this coverage. Earlier this year, CCRIF, in collaboration with the Caribbean Development Bank, Sustainability Managers held a meeting with international development partners to explore ways in which they could support the roll-out of this product. These donors were very interested and committed to examine how they could provide support.

Since the inception of CCRIF in 2007, the Facility has made eight payouts totalling over US$32 million to seven member governments on their hurricane or earthquake policies. All payouts were transferred to the respective governments within 14 days after each event.

The payouts made by CCRIF since 2007 are listed below.

 Event                                      Country               Payouts ($US)

Earthquake, 29/11/07                Dominica                           528,021

Earthquake, 29/11/07                Saint Lucia                        418,976

Tropical Cyclone Ike, 09/08   Turks & Caicos Islands    6,303,913

Earthquake, 12/01/10                   Haiti                             7,753,579

Tropical Cyclone Earl, 08/10       Anguilla                       4,282,733

Tropical Cyclone Tomas, 10/10  Barbados                     8,560,247

Tropical Cyclone Tomas, 10/10   Saint Lucia                  3,241,613

Total for the Period 2007 – 2012     —                           32,179,470

For more information, please send an email to pr@ccrif.org or visit the CCRIF website at http://www.ccrif.org.

Source: CCRIF Press Release

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