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Climate Change Exchange – Presentations and COP 21 Card

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).

Key Presentations

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.

Caribbean Coral Reef Leaders Complete Intensive Fellowship at the Great Barrier Reef

Credits: Environmental Graffiti

Photo Credit: Environmental Graffiti

Coral reefs in the Caribbean are amongst the most at risk globally. The loss of reefs is also a serious economic problem in the region, where large populations depend on fishing and tourism. Having lost 80% of its corals over the last half century, mainly due to a changing and variable climate, coastal development and pollution, the Caribbean is seeking to turn the tide through partnerships. A group of five coral reef managers from across the Caribbean recently participated in an intensive three week Coral Reef Management Fellowship programme at the Great Barrier Reef, Australia – the best managed reef in the world.

The Caribbean contingent was among a group of 12 fellows, including their peers from the Pacific and Indian Oceans. The Caribbean fellows are: Roland Baldeo (Grenada), Andrea Donaldson and Christine O’Sullivan (Jamaica), Michelle Kalamandeen (Guyana) and Andrew Lockhart (St. Vincent and the Grenadines).

The fellows visited government departments, research stations, farms, schools and other reef-associated operations. They experienced the Great Barrier Reef and many facets of catchment to reef management through direct interactions with a diversity of land and sea habitats, scientists, managers, farmers, educators, media, volunteers and industry leaders. The Fellowship also included home-stays with local marine scientists as part of a cultural exchange.

This was a rare and valuable experience as it brought together coral reef managers from diverse locations to gain and share expertise. Dr Kenrick Leslie, Executive Director of the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre, welcomed the successful completion of the fellowship, noting:

“This is an excellent programme to boost understanding of marine protected areas and the role it can play in sustainable development. It gives our people an opportunity to see how effective coral reef management is done in another community. Importantly, they are gaining insights from the major work being done to rectify some of the issues with the world’s longest barrier reef. It’s a unique experience.”

Citing the fellows’ exposure to an intensive leadership course at Orpheus Island Research Station, which included theory and exercises to plan, problem solve and teamwork, Dr Leslie urged the fellows to be agents of change across the Caribbean.

“At this point in our development it is important that we ensure that whatever we do, we do not make the assumption that resources are unlimited and that all our actions are resilient and our environment is protected,” Dr Leslie added.

The Caribbean and Pacific fellows are part of an Australia Awards Fellowship programme funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, titled Improving coral reef management for sustainable development in the Caribbean and Pacific. Australia Awards are prestigious international Scholarships and Fellowships funded by the Australian Government to build capacity and strengthen partnerships. The programme supports short-term study, research and professional development opportunities in Australia for mid-career professionals and emerging leaders.

The fellowship programme was organised and hosted by Reef Ecologic, an environmental consulting company with expertise on coral reef management, which was founded by former Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority employees Dr Adam Smith and Dr Paul Marshall.

“We have observed the decline of coral reefs globally and we recognized that training of future leaders is essential for turning the tide towards a more sustainable future. Australia is the world leader in coral reef conservation and marine resource management. This Fellowship is a chance to share Australia’s expertise with the world,” said Dr Marshall.

______________________________________________________________________

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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Jet Blue’s Climate Change & Tourism Scholarships

Credit: Jet Blue Foundation

Credit: Jet Blue Foundation

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

Belize Fights to Save a Crucial Barrier Reef

The humble CREWS buoy hosts several instruments designed to measure conditions above and below the water, and keep track of these developing threats. Credit: Aaron Humes/IPS

The humble CREWS buoy hosts several instruments designed to measure conditions above and below the water, and keep track of these developing threats. Credit: Aaron Humes/IPS

Home to the second longest barrier reef in the world and the largest in the Western Hemisphere, which provides jobs in fishing, tourism and other industries which feed the lifeblood of the economy, Belize has long been acutely aware of the need to protect its marine resources from both human and natural activities.

However, there has been a recent decline in the production and export of marine products including conch, lobster, and fish, even as tourism figures continue to increase.

“What happens on the land will eventually reach the sea, via our rivers.” — Dr. Kenrick Leslie

The decline is not helped by overfishing and the harvest of immature conch and lobster outside of the standard fishing season. But the primary reason for less conch and lobster in Belize’s waters, according to local experts, is excess ocean acidity which is making it difficult for popular crustacean species such as conch and lobster, which depend on their hard, spiny shells to survive, to grow and mature.

According to the executive director of the Caribbean Community Climate Change Center (CCCCC), Dr. Kenrick Leslie, acidification is as important and as detrimental to the sustainability of the Barrier Reef and the ocean generally as warming of the atmosphere and other factors generally associated with climate change.

Carbon dioxide which is emitted in the atmosphere from greenhouse gases is absorbed into the ocean as carbonic acid, which interacts with the calcium present in the shells of conch and lobster to form calcium carbonate, dissolving those shells and reducing their numbers. Belize also faces continuous difficulties with coral bleaching, which has attacked several key sections of the reef in recent years.

Dr. Leslie told IPS that activities on Belize’s terrestrial land mass are also contributing to the problems under Belize’s waters. “What happens on the land will eventually reach the sea, via our rivers,” he noted.

To fight these new problems, there is need for more research and accurate, up to the minute data.

Last month, the European Union (EU), as part of its Global Climate Change Alliance Caribbean Support Project handed over to the government of Belize and specifically the Ministry of Forestry, Fisheries and Sustainable Development for its continued usage a Coral Reef Early Warning System (CREWS) buoy based at South Water Caye off the Stann Creek District in southern Belize.

Developed by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), it has been adopted by the CCCCC as a centrepiece of the effort to obtain reliable data as a basis for strategies for fighting climate change.

Dr. Leslie says the CREWS system represents a leap forward in research technology on climate change. The humble buoy hosts several instruments designed to measure conditions above and below the water, and keep track of these developing threats. The data collected on atmospheric and oceanic conditions such as oceanic turbidity, levels of carbon dioxide and other harmful elements and others are monitored from the Centre’s office in Belmopan and the data sent along to international scientists who can more concretely analyse it.

The South Water Caye CREWS station is one of two in Belize; the other is located at the University of Belize’s Environmental Research Institute (ERI) on Calabash Caye in the Turneffe Atoll range. Other stations are located in Jamaica, Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, and the Dominican Republic, with more planned in other key areas.

According to the CEO of the Coastal Zone Management Authority and Institute (CZMAI), Vincent Gillet, this is an example of the kind of work that needs to be done to keep the coastal zone healthy and safeguard resources for Belize’s future generations.

A report released at the start of Coastal Awareness Week in Belize City urges greater awareness of the effects of climate change and the participation of the local managers of the coastal zone in a policy to combat those effects. Several recommendations were made, including empowering the Authority with more legislative heft, revising the land distribution policy and bringing more people into the discussion.

The report was the work of over 30 local and international scientists who contributed to and prepared it.

In receiving the CREWS equipment, the Ministry’s CEO, Dr. Adele Catzim-Sanchez, sought to remind that the problem of climate change is real and unless it is addressed, Belizeans may be contributing to their own demise.

The European Union’s Ambassador to Belize, Paola Amadei, reported that the Union may soon be able to offer even more help with the planned negotiations in Paris, France, in 2015 for a global initiative on climate change, with emphasis on smaller states. Belize already benefits from separate but concurrent projects, the latter of which aims to give Belize a sustainable development plan and specific strategy to address climate change.

In addition, Dr. Leslie is pushing for even more monitoring equipment, including current metres to study the effect of terrestrial activity such as mining and construction material gathering as well as deforestation on the sea, where the residue of such activities inevitably ends up.

Credit: IPS News Agency

Jamaica to host Youth Climate Change Conference

Youth Climate Change Conference

Youth Climate Change Conference

The USAID-funded Jamaica Rural Economy and Ecosystems Adapting to Climate Change (Ja REEACH) project is hosting a mock United Nations-style assembly on climate change at the inaugural Youth Climate Change Conference in Kingston, Jamaica on September 14, 2014.
Themed, "One Climate, One Future...Empowering Youth for Action" high school delegates will deliberate on the availability, access, and quality of water in Jamaica, a relevant and timely issue considering the country's current drought condition.
The assembly will discuss the rights and use of water across Jamaica's social and economic sectors, focusing on tourism, agriculture and fisheries, manufacturing and industry, health and recreation, and the environment. The deliberations will be collated to formulate a youth position on risk management strategies and actions for sustainable use of the resource in the face of a changing climate.
The conference will also incorporate a poster competition, exhibit of climate information, water conservation and clean technology solutions display, a concert and a fashion show.

Coral Reefs Report and Climate Change News

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)

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

Water Quality Monitoring in Barbados Credits: Caribbean News Now

Water Quality Monitoring in Barbados
Credit: Caribbean News Now

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tourism And Health Programme Launched

10367152_892409864117836_7376409262706439519_n

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.

Credit: Official Website for the Government of Antigua and Barbuda

Caribbean Green Tech Incubator Launched

CCIC Image

Credit: World Bank/infoDev

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
CCIC Image 2

Credit: World Bank/infoDev/Caribbean Climate Innovation Centre

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.

OECS’s 3rd Climate Change Seminar to focus on Tourism and Agriculture

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.

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