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PRESS RELEASE – Belmopan, Belize; November 15 – On Wednesday November 14, the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) began its handover of data collection devices purchased with funding from the USAID Climate Change Adaptation Program (USAID CCAP) to nine countries in the eastern Caribbean.
Executive Director Dr. Kenrick Leslie and officials from USAID Eastern and Southern Office (USAID ESO) handed over the first of the 50 Automatic Weather Stations (AWS) and the 5 Coral Reef Early Warning System (CREWS) to the government St Vincent and the Grenadines at a ceremony held at the Argyle International Airport.
Under the project, one AWS and one CREWS station were installed in SVG. St. Lucia and Grenada also received one each AWS and CREWS station; two AWS and one CREWS were installed in St Kitts, while four AWS and one CREWS station were installed in Antigua.
Other beneficiaries are Guyana with 21 AWS, Suriname with 16 and the CIMH in Barbados with three. These data collection devices are to enhance the region’s ability to monitor Marine and Terrestrial Environmental parameters to provide more reliable climate and climate change data.
More than US$3 million dollars were spent under USAID CCAP to enhance the region’s data collection capabilities as the Centre and its partners seek to build the Caribbean’s resilience to climate variability and change.
The marine and land-based data gathering systems were installed with assistance from the Caribbean Institute for Meteorology and Hydrology (CIMH), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the governments of recipient countries. The CIMH has responsibility for maintenance under an agreement with the Centre.
The new CREWS data buoys provide Caribbean scientists and researchers with marine data that allow them to monitor reef health, sea temperature changes, winds (speed and gusts), barometric pressure, precipitation, photo-synthetically active/available radiation (PAR, light), air temperature, and salinity. Other instruments may be added through arrangement with the host countries. The AWS’ collection of critical data to support climate services and climate change modelling in the region by improving the monitoring and collection of environmental variables including temperature, relative humidity, solar radiation, atmospheric pressure and rainfall.
The systems are critical tools for building resilience, providing data to support climate and climate change science and information to aid decision makers. USAID CCAP supports activities that are critical for the successful implementation of climate change adaptation strategies across the Caribbean.
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.
At an OECS climate change forum, environmentalists warn that frequency and intensity of extreme weather conditions is likely to increase.
OECS member states have been urged to prepare for more extreme weather conditions and natural disasters as a result of climate change.
The warning came from Crispin d’Auvergne, Saint Lucia’s Chief Sustainable Development Officer, who was a contributing panelist at an OECS climate change forum in Dominica.
The forum is part of the Vini Kozè (Let’s Chat) Series that engages citizens in discussion and debate on development opportunities and challenges facing the region.
According to Mr. d’Auvergne, a 2008 environmental study showed that while Saint Lucia sees an average of one to two Category 4 or Category 5 hurricanes per year, it is likely to increase to four or five hurricanes of that magnitude each year. Citing another study, Mr. d’Auvergne said rainfall in the Caribbean is expected to increase by 25 to 50 percent in the next five decades. These extreme weather patterns will become “the new normal” he said, adding that because the frequency and intensity of extreme weather conditions is likely to increase, the Caribbean should plan accordingly, preparing for more severe natural disasters like droughts, hurricanes and floods.
After Dominica was devastated by Tropical Storm Erica in August 2015, the Minister for Health and Environment, Dr. Kenneth Darroux, said Dominica had never seen a disaster of such proportions in terms of damage to infrastructure and the loss of life. Infrastructural damage was estimated at $1.4 billion. Minister Darroux said the storm caused the government to revisit its land use, policies, and regulations.
The Global Environment Fund (GEF) has been helping to build resilience in vulnerable communities in Dominica through its Small Grants Program (SGP). National Coordinator of GEF-SGP in Dominica, Agnes Esprit, said GEF’s intervention is driven by the communities in which it works, and that makes for a more sustainable and people-led approach to projects.
The Caribbean Youth Environment Network (CYEN) was also represented at the forum. Regional Chairperson, Jamilla Sealy, said CYEN does tremendous advocacy, public awareness, and education on the environment and climate change targeted at young people and the general populace. The Caribbean Youth Environment Network was integrally involved in the climate justice campaign that championed the “1.5 to Stay Alive” initiative leading up to COP 21 in Paris in December 2015. Sealy said she is encouraged by the traction which the movement gained.
Master Scuba Diver Kenneth Samuel, who owns and operates Kenneth’s Dive Centre in St. Kitts has earned a living from the sea for over 50 years. He started off as a fisherman and transitioned into scuba diving. Now in his 70s, Mr. Samuel said he has experienced the effects of climate change which have now begun to affect his livelihood.
The OECS Public Education Forum Series (PEFS) runs until March 2017. The next forum will be held in Martinique on Feb. 24. The topic for discussion will be OECS Regional Integration with a focus on the free movement of persons, the harmonization of legislation, and investment opportunities across OECS member states.
The forum series is part of the public education component of the Economic Integration and Trade Program of the OECS, funded by the 10th European Development Fund (EDF).
The forum was held at the Fort Young Hotel in Dominica on Feb. 10.
Credit: St. Lucia Times