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The Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre held the second in a series of Climate Change Exchange events last Thursday in Belize City. The first was held in Barbados last October. The event, which was held with support from the European Union – Global Climate Change Alliance (EU -GCCA) Programme and the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID) under the DFID ARIES project, sought to raise awareness and promote dialogue about COP 21 slated to be held in Paris later this year, the United National (UN) Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report (AR5), and the range of work done by the Centre across the Caribbean over the last decade.
The widely supported event attracted over 150 guests drawn from the apex of government, the diplomatic corps, the scientific community, civil society, development partners, universities, local and regional media and the general public. It was also live-streamed and broadcast live on four television stations (Krem, Love, Channel 5 and Channel 7) and two radio stations (Krem and Love) in Belize. The event was also covered by the Barbados-based Caribbean Media Corporation and Jamaica’s CVM TV.
An impressive set of international, regional and national experts addressed the audience, including Professor Christopher Fields and Dr Katherine Mach of Stanford University, Mr Carlos Fuller, a veteran Caribbean negotiator, Dr Leonard Nurse, a member of the IPCC’s research and author teams for four global assessment reports and three key project managers.
Peruse the Speakers' Guide to learn more about our speakers.
Why is COP 21 Important?
This key public education event was held as 2015 is shaping up to be a landmark year for global action on Climate Change. The future of the Caribbean depends on a binding and ambitious global agreement at COP 21. A bold agreement that curbs greenhouse gas emissions to limit the global rise in temperature to below 2°C is needed to safeguard our survival, food, critical industries such as tourism, infrastructure and promote renewable energy.
Peruse our informational card "Why is COP 21 Important?" for more context and the region's 11 point negotiating position leading up to COP 21.
Here’s the Agenda to guide you as you peruse the evening’s key presentations (below).
Keynote Address by Professor Christopher Field and Dr. Katharine Mach of Stanford University
Keynote Address by Carlos Fuller, International and Regional Liaison Officer at the CCCCC –
CCCCC's Programme Development and Management Presentation by Dr. Mark Bynoe, Sr Economist and Head of the Programme Development and Management Unit at the CCCCC
EU -GCCA Presentation by Joseph McGann , EU - GCCA Programme Manager at the CCCCC
KfW Presentation by Kenneth Reid, KfW Programme Manager at the CCCCC *Click all hyperlinks to access relevant files/webpages.
The JetBlue Foundation is offering two scholarships for students to attend the Centre for Responsible Travel (CREST) and the Puntacana Ecological Foundation’s Innovators Think Tank. This is a unique opportunity for students to learn about key issues involving climate change and tourism. Applications will be due July 10th and a decision will be made by July 13th. CREST will be handling applications.
Scholarships for two eligible students include:
Air travel via JetBlue Airways by the most direct route to Punta Cana on or around July 22 and return to the closest city to the student's home or school that JetBlue services
3 nights' accommodation at the Westin Punta Cana Resort & Club (July 22, 23, & 24)
Ground transportation to and from Punta Cana International Airport and all conference related activities
Tour of Puntacana Resort & Club
Programmed meals (breakfasts, lunches, and hors d'oeuvres at cocktail hours)
Attendance at all Think Tank proceedings and events
$250 for incidentals
Eligible students must:
Be available to fly to Punta Cana from a Caribbean city JetBlue Airways services (Students should live near an airport that JetBlue services.)
Be able to write and speak English proficiently
Be enrolled part-time or full-time in a colloquial school, college, university, or a certificate program
Be studying an area related to tourism, government affairs in the Caribbean, sustainable business practices, climate change science, conservation or oceanography. Preference will be given to students with demonstrated commitment and interest to one or more of these areas.
One scholarship will be awarded per student. Additional rules and considerations apply.
For more information on the scholarship, check out the Innovators Think Tank: Climate Change & Coastal Tourism Website!
Credit: Jet Blue Foundation
With only about one-sixth of the original coral cover left, most Caribbean coral reefs may disappear in the next 20 years, primarily due to the loss of grazers in the region, according to the latest report by the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network (GCRMN), the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
The report, Status and Trends of Caribbean Coral Reefs: 1970-2012, is the most detailed and comprehensive study of its kind published to date – the result of the work of 90 experts over the course of three years. It contains the analysis of more than 35,000 surveys conducted at 90 Caribbean locations since 1970, including studies of corals, seaweeds, grazing sea urchins and fish.
The results show that the Caribbean corals have declined by more than 50% since the 1970s. But according to the authors, restoring parrotfish populations and improving other management strategies, such as protection from overfishing and excessive coastal pollution, could help the reefs recover and make them more resilient to future climate change impacts.
“The rate at which the Caribbean corals have been declining is truly alarming,” says Carl Gustaf Lundin, Director of IUCN’s Global Marine and Polar Programme. “But this study brings some very encouraging news: the fate of Caribbean corals is not beyond our control and there are some very concrete steps that we can take to help them recover.”
Climate change has long been thought to be the main culprit in coral degradation. While it does pose a serious threat by making oceans more acidic and causing coral bleaching, the report shows that the loss of parrotfish and sea urchin – the area’s two main grazers – has, in fact, been the key driver of coral decline in the region. An unidentified disease led to a mass mortality of the sea urchin in 1983 and extreme fishing throughout the 20th century has brought the parrotfish population to the brink of extinction in some regions. The loss of these species breaks the delicate balance of coral ecosystems and allows algae, on which they feed, to smother the reefs.
Reefs protected from overfishing, as well as other threats such as excessive coastal pollution, tourism and coastal development, are more resilient to pressures from climate change, according to the authors.
“Even if we could somehow make climate change disappear tomorrow, these reefs would continue their decline,” says Jeremy Jackson, lead author of the report and IUCN’s senior advisor on coral reefs. “We must immediately address the grazing problem for the reefs to stand any chance of surviving future climate shifts.”
The report also shows that some of the healthiest Caribbean coral reefs are those that harbour vigorous populations of grazing parrotfish. These include the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary in the northern Gulf of Mexico, Bermuda and Bonaire, all of which have restricted or banned fishing practices that harm parrotfish, such as fish traps and spearfishing. Other countries are following suit.
“Barbuda is about to ban all catches of parrotfish and grazing sea urchins, and set aside one-third of its coastal waters as marine reserves,” says Ayana Johnson of the Waitt Institute’s Blue Halo Initiative which is collaborating with Barbuda in the development of its new management plan. “This is the kind of aggressive management that needs to be replicated regionally if we are going to increase the resilience of Caribbean reefs.”
Reefs where parrotfish are not protected have suffered tragic declines, including Jamaica, the entire Florida Reef Tract from Miami to Key West, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
The Caribbean is home to 9% of the world’s coral reefs, which are one of the most diverse ecosystems on the planet. Caribbean reefs, spanning a total of 38 countries, are vital to the region’s economy. They generate more than US$ 3 billion annually from tourism and fisheries and over a hundred times more in other goods and services, on which more than 43 million people depend.
This video, featuring the report’s lead author Jeremy Jackson, explains the significance of the report:
Peruse the full report.
Credit: The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)
Closures of hotels and cruise ports due to outbreaks of communicable diseases, environmental challenges like climate change, and poor health and wellness in the tourism workforce, can result in significant losses in revenue.
These were the major catalysts for the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) and the Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO) partnering to address issues affecting health and tourism in the Caribbean region.
During CARPHA’s Health Research Conference in Aruba last Friday, CARPHA and CTO launched an innovative Regional Tourism and Health Programme geared at strengthening the links between tourism, health and environment for more resilient and sustainable tourism in the Caribbean.
Minister of Tourism of Antigua & Barbuda John Maginley, a longstanding champion in the region for the establishment of this programme, and one of the first to invest seed funding, delivered the keynote address at the launch meeting. Minister Maginley recalled his hotel experiences in which millions of dollars in revenue were lost because of food-borne illnesses and other health problems.
He said negative events can cripple the region’s tourism industry and recognised the need for training, standards, and clear regional protocols to protect the industry. Minister Maginley believes that this programme will change the way the Caribbean moves forward with tourism and will create a new brand awareness.
Premier and Minister of Tourism of the Turks and Caicos Islands Dr Rufus Ewing said that tourism is the mainstay of many of the economies of Caribbean nations and contributes to more than 50 per cent of their gross domestic product (GDP). However, he also pointed out that the tourism industry is constantly under threat as the speed and frequency of travel from other regions bring new and emerging diseases.
He described recent firsthand experiences with norovirus outbreaks on cruise ships that spread to the resident population. He explained that an adverse event on one island in the Caribbean is generalized in international forums, as being the Caribbean as a whole, and in turn negatively impacts the tourism industry of all islands.
Dr Ewing added that along with an increasing number of violent crimes and reduced safety of visitors and residents alike, collaborative action becomes critical, if the region is to achieve a profitable and sustainable tourism industry.
Executive Director of CARPHA Dr C James Hospedales noted that outbreaks of food and water-borne diseases may be the most common health problem in visitors with major negative economic impact. He said “in the early 2000’s, within a five-year period, losses of over US$250 million were estimated to have occurred in the Caribbean tourism industry due to preventable outbreaks.”
Further, Dr Hospedales spoke of major environmental challenges including beach water quality. He said hotels and tourism facilities face challenges of water and energy conservation to reduce carbon footprints, not to mention the overarching threat of climate change. He informed the audience that the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre had agreed that joint action with the health
sector and environment was essential to improving resilience and mitigating and preventing the problem.
In fact, according to Dr Hospedales, a 10 percent improvement in the energy efficiency of the Region’s hotels could significantly contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gases, as well as improve financial performance.
Dr Hospedales reminded those in attendance of the additional issue of the health and wellbeing of the tourism workforce and preventable costly epidemics of overweight and non-communicable diseases (NCDs) affecting the entire work force. He pointed out that high levels of overweight and obesity, hypertension and diabetes, are prevalent among the staff and decrease productivity and increase health costs. Dr Hospedales added that the tourism workforce health and wellness component of the programme will be led by the Caribbean Tourism Organization, with support from CARPHA.
The Caribbean Climate Innovation Centre (CCIC) was launched today (Monday, January 27, 2014) at the Caribbean Industrial Research Institute (CARIRI) in Trinidad and Tobago. The World Bank/infoDev initiative, which is being administered by the Jamaica-based Scientific Research Council and Trinidad and Tobago-based Caribbean Industrial Research Institute (CARIRI), will function as an incubator for businesses solving climate change problems and promote investment in green technology in the region. The Centre is one of eight globally, as others are located in Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Kenya, Morocco, South Africa and Vietnam.
The Centre will provide grant funding of up to US$50,000.00 to MSMEs/ entities to assist them in developing prototypes for commercialization.
The Centre’s five focus areas are:
Solar Energy – e.g. Residential and commercial self generation, residential and commercial water heating, solar powered air conditioning
Resource Use Efficiency – e.g. waste-to energy, materials recovery, reuse and recycling
Sustainable Agribusiness – e.g. water/ energy efficient irrigation systems; waste management; high value agribusiness; sustainable land use practices; waste to energy; wind and solar energy for farms
Energy Efficiency – e.g. Lighting, household appliances, air conditioning, commercial cooling and ventilation systems, consumer behavior, building and energy management systems, building design and materials
Water Management – e.g. Potable water, rain water harvesting, efficient irrigation, wastewater treatment and recycling, water use efficiency, desalination
Dr Ulric Trotz, Chairperson of the CCIC, and Deputy Director of the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre, says the CCIC comes to fruition at a point when unsustainable and inefficient energy consumption exacerbates the enormous socio-economic constraints faced by Member States of the Caribbean Community.
The region, which is among the most vulnerable places to climate change and climate variability, imports in excess of 170 million barrels of petroleum products annually, with 30 million barrels used in the electric sector alone, at a cost of up to 40% of already scarce foreign exchange earnings. This dependence on ever more expensive imported fossil fuels increases our economic vulnerability and reduces our ability to invest in climate compatible development. Therefore, it’s crucial that we support initiatives that can make the region’s energy sector more efficient through increased use of renewable energy, which will in turn reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
This comes at a time when economies around the world are re-orientating towards low-carbon, green growth pathways, which have the potential to make some of our established industries, including tourism, more attractive to discerning travellers who are willing to spend more for environmentally sensitive travel packages.
The Centre offers this region a unique opportunity to leverage technological innovation in its bid to adapt and mitigate challenges brought forth by climate change, with particular focus on energy efficiency, resource use, agriculture and water management, as the regional technology space is rapidly evolving and seems poised to take-off with the advent of events and groups like DigiJam 3.0, Caribbean Startup Week, Slashroots, among others. This is encouraging as the development, deployment and diffusion of technology are key factors in any effort to mitigate and adapt to the current and future impacts of climate change. So the Centre is uniquely positioned to capitalize on these developments and focus them to achieve essential technological advancement.
~Dr Ulric Trotz, Chairperson of the CCIC, and Deputy Director of the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre
Please view the CCIC website at www.caribbeancic.org for further information.
The Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Secretariat’s third climate change seminar is underway (September 3 to 5) at the Royal Saint Lucian Hotel in Saint Lucia.
The annual event, which focuses on ‘strategies and innovations in tourism and agriculture’, will feature a Mini Festival on climate change. The OECS says the theme for this year’s seminar, Climate Change, Tourism and Agriculture –Strategies and innovations for adaptation, is especially significant in light of negative impacts already being felt by these sectors. Predictions indicate that OECS Member States are likely to experience even more adverse economic impacts on their most important industries, which depend heavily on the attractiveness of natural environments; and good weather and climate.
A major output, which is expected from the seminar, is a portfolio of new ideas for strategies and innovations in agriculture and tourism that will enable these sectors to better manage climate-related risk and build resilience. The seminar is therefore organised around a number of pertinent topics, which will address both sectors, including:
1. Climate Change Impacts on Agriculture and Tourism 2. The Economic Contribution of Small Island Resources to the Tourism Sector 3. Maximizing Business Benefits through Building Resilience 4. Reducing climate related risks to agriculture and tourism 5. Sustainable Land Management and Agriculture 6. A look at adaptation measures for farming
The topics identified will be delivered by selected experts from around the region and beyond.
The OECS Secretariat estimates that some 80 participants will be in attendance at the two-day seminar representing private entities, government agencies, international and regional bodies – who work in agriculture, tourism, environment and climate change.
The seminar is being held as part of the OECS/USAID RRACC Project – a five-year developmental project which was launched in 2011 to assist OECS governments with building resilience through the implementation of climate change adaptation measures.
Specifically, RRACC will build an enabling environment in support of policies and laws to reduce vulnerability; address information gaps that constrain issues related to climate vulnerabilities; make interventions in freshwater and coastal management to build resilience; increase awareness on issues related to climate change and improve capacities for climate change adaptation.
** This article is an edited version of a statement from the OECS Secretariat.