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CCCCC and USAID continue Climate Change Resilience Training

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

Belmopan, Belize June 26, 2017: The Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre in collaboration with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and Government of St Lucia are hosting a workshop on the Use of Climate Change Impact Tools and Models for Decision Making, Planning and Implementation on the island between June 19 and 30.

The Workshop is being held at the Bay Gardens Inn in Rodney Bay, Gros Islet, St. Lucia and is organised under the USAID-funded Climate Change Adaptation Program (USAID CCAP). The program aims to build resilience in the development initiatives of 10 countries in the Caribbean as they tackle climate change induced challenges which are already being experienced.

Under the project the Caribbean Assessment Regional DROught (CARiDRO) tool; the Weather Generator, the Tropical Storm Model and accompanying web portal and data sets have been developed and are being introduced to help countries to enhance their development activities to reduce the risks to natural assets and populations, due to climate change.

The tools are open source online resources to provide locally relevant and unbiased climate change information that is specific to the Caribbean and relevant to the region’s development. The integration of the tools into national policy agendas across the region is being spearheaded through regional and country workshops which are crucial to ensuring effective decision-making and improving climate knowledge and action.

The beneficiary countries are Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago.

The USAID CCAP project was designed to build on both USAID’s Eastern and Southern Caribbean Regional Development Cooperative Strategy, which addresses development challenges in the Eastern and Southern Caribbean, and the CCCCC’s Regional Framework for Achieving Development Resilient to a Changing Climate and its associated Implementation Plan that were unanimously endorsed by Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Heads.

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TOOLS

Regional Climate Models and Caribbean Assessment of Regional Drought (CARiDRO)

The Caribbean Assessment Regional DROught (CARiDRO) was designed to facilitate drought assessment in the context of the Caribbean and Central America. It is a flexible system that should accommodate the requirements of different users. The online tool is composed of two main sections: a descriptive one where the user can find information on how to use the tool as well as terms and concepts that are useful. The other section is where the user can fill out a form with different fields in order to produce results accordingly. CARiDRO allows the user to access and to process different observed and model datasets for the Caribbean Region to produce results based on two Drought Indexes, the Standardized Precipitation Index (McKee,1993) and the Standardized Precipitation-Evaporation Index (Serrano et al, 2010).

Weather generator

The Weather Generator provides daily weather time series for use in impact assessments and impact models. It generates weather data for the future that can be used across sectors (e.g., water, agriculture, health) in the same way as historic weather series. The main benefit and utility of the WG is that it provides information for a single point location – directly comparable to what is observed at weather stations.

Tropical storm model

A simple advection model premised on past memorable and notable storms generating grids for each 15-minute period in the storm model. The variables include precipitation rate and wind speed.

Portal and observed data

This web portal provides information and datasets concerning:

  • The observed climate of the present day
  • Regional Climate Model projection of the future climate
  • Future scenarios of weather downscaled from the Regional Climate Model projections
  • Scenarios of weather derived from hypothetical tropical cyclone events

This web portal is intended for use by regional and national institutions, consultants and scientists concerned with the climate and impacts of future climate change in the Caribbean region. Accordingly, a considerable degree of contextual knowledge of climate change and its impacts, and analytical expertise is assumed. Browse the portal: http://www.cariwig.org/ncl_portal/#info

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

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CCORAL Training Workshop for Antigua and Barbuda

Caribbean Climate Online Risk and Adaptation TooL (CCORAL) Infographic

PRESS RELEASE – Belmopan, Belize; May 5, 2017 – The Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) in partnership with the United States Agency for International Development/ Eastern and Southern Caribbean (USAID/ESC) under the USAID Climate Change Adaptation Program (USAID CCAP) are hosting a Caribbean Climate Online Risk and Adaptation Tool (CCORAL) Training Workshop in Antigua and Barbuda on May 8th – 12th at the Department of Environment Conference Room.

CCORAL, is an online climate risk management tool that guides developers to include best-practises, strategies and systems into development planning that will ensure that across the region, there is a comprehensive approach to climate change risk assessment and adaptation for building climate resiliency in decision-making. It provides users a platform for identifying appropriate responses to the impacts of short and long term climate conditions by applying a risk management approach to development planning.

The training workshop is targeting key government, private sector and non-governmental organisations, agencies/institutions as part of a national capacity-building exercise aimed at inculcating a risk management ethos in decision-making. Through use of this online application tool, participants will evaluate national developmental issues and present their findings to senior policy and decision makers on completion of these evaluation exercises.

The USAID CCAP being implemented by the CCCCC commits US$25.6 million over four (4) years to boost climate resilient development and reduce climate change induced risks to human and natural assets in ten (10) countries. The beneficiary countries are Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, St. Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, and Suriname.

Peruse the CCORAL Fact Sheet and the CCORAL Brochure.

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

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CRFM and fisheries powerhouse, Norway, launch fact-finding mission

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From  left to right: Milton Haughton, CRFM Executive Director; Dr. Åge Høines, Senior Scientist, Institute of Marine Research, Norway; Dr. Johán Williams, Special Director, Norwegian Ministry of Fisheries and Coastal Affairs; and Hon. Dr. Omar Figueroa, Minister of State in the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, Forestry, the Environment and Sustainable Development and Climate Change, Belize

The Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) and the Government of Norway have launched a two-week mission to explore the development of a regional technical assistance project to be funded by Norway. The project would support the region’s fisheries and aquaculture sector by strengthening evidence-based management.

Dr. Åge Høines, Senior Scientist, Institute of Marine Research, Norway; and Dr. Johán Williams, Specialist Director, Norwegian Ministry of Fisheries and Coastal Affairs, began meeting on Monday, January 16, with CRFM Executive Director Milton Haughton at the CRFM Secretariat in Belize City, after which the team embarked in a two-week dialogue with 7 CRFM Members States, beginning with senior government officials in Belize.

This regional fact-finding mission is being undertaken within the framework of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and Cooperation between the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Governments of the Nordic Countries of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden, signed by the parties on 20 September 2016 in New York, USA. That MoU identified fisheries as one of the priority areas of cooperation, along with environment, climate change, renewable energy, gender equality, tourism, education, child protection and welfare, and information technology.

“Norway is a powerhouse in fisheries, globally,” Haughton said. “They have excellent systems for research, data collection, resource management, and making decisions based on science; and we need to move more in that direction—strengthening our systems to be able to make better decisions regarding fisheries conservation and management, as well as fisheries development on the basis of good scientific data and information.”

Haughton added that: “We are interested in drawing on the Norwegian knowledge, expertise and technology in various aspects of fisheries and aquaculture, in building our own capacities in CARICOM in fisheries research, statistics, resource management, aquaculture (particularly mariculture), fish processing, value addition, marketing and international trade.”

Principally, the engagement between Norway and the CRFM Member States will focus on building human resource capacity, institutional capacity, and the accuracy and volume of fisheries data and information, with an emphasis on pursuing the ecosystems approach to fisheries development and management.

While in Belize, Høines and Williams had a chance to dialogue with H.E. Daniel Guiterrez, Belize’s Ambassador to CARICOM; Hon. Dr. Omar Figueroa, Belize’s Minister of State in the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, Forestry, the Environment and Sustainable Development and Climate Change, as well as Fisheries Administrator Beverly Wade.

After leaving Belize on Tuesday, the team, joined by CRFM Executive Director Milton Haughton, travels to Haiti for similar dialogue, as they consult with stakeholders in the field to better define their interests. Next, the team will travel to Barbados, Grenada, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, and The Bahamas. While in Guyana, they will meet both with fisheries officials there and officials of the CARICOM Secretariat. The technical mission concludes near the end of January.

Haughton noted that for more than 60 years, Norway has been supporting fisheries research surveys in developing countries using the marine research vessel, Dr. Fridtjof Nansen, outfitted with high-level modern technology in marine resource survey. Those vessels have been dispatched in Africa and other parts of the developing world. It is the CRFM’s hope that during the latter half of the proposed project, for the period 2019-2020, the research vessel would be deployed in the Caribbean to conduct surveys to broaden the region’s understanding of the state of its fisheries resources and marine environment. The CRFM also intends to collaborate in this endeavor with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)/ Western Central Atlantic Fisheries Commission, which is already committed to assisting the region in buildings its fisheries knowledge base.

Credit: The Bahamas Weekly

Trinidad and Tobago civil society ready to tackle climate change in 2017

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Representatives from the five beneficiary CSOs, Conservation International and CANARI

 

Five civil society organisations (CSOs) in Trinidad and Tobago are starting 2017 ready to tackle climate change through raising awareness, advocating for strong policies and action, and implementing practical adaptation projects guided by assessments of what are the key vulnerabilities and priorities for resilience building.

The five CSOs – Caribbean Youth Environment Network Trinidad and Tobago Chapter (CYENTT), Environmental Research Institute Charlotteville (ERIC), Environment Tobago, Fondes Amandes Community Reforestation Project (FACRP), and Turtle Village Trust (TVT) – have been participating in the “Climate ACTT: Action by Civil society in Trinidad and Tobago to build resilience to climate change” project, which aimed to build the capacity of five CSOs in Trinidad and Tobago to deliver programmes/projects related to climate change adaptation and resilience.

Over the last 16 months, the Caribbean Natural Resources Institute (CANARI) implemented and managed this project in collaboration with Conservation International and with support from BHP Billiton Trinidad and Tobago.

The Climate ACTT project wrapped up in December 2016, with a final evaluation workshop to assess results of the project, facilitate sharing of knowledge and experiences among the beneficiary CSOs and catalyse partnerships and new initiatives for climate change adaptation and resilience in Trinidad and Tobago.

Overall the Climate ACTT project was found to be a resounding success at enhancing the capacity of the five CSOs to undertake climate adaptation work.

One participant in the final evaluation workshop acknowledged “the sense of something starting as opposed to something ending”.

“This was the seed sown for the growth of the big tree,” added another participant.

All five CSOs felt energised and ready to expand their work on climate change to help to address the impacts that are already being felt in communities throughout Trinidad and Tobago.

Each CSO had participated in training and implemented a practical adaptation project that laid a foundation for exciting avenues of work moving forward. A few highlights were:

  • Caribbean Youth Environment Network Trinidad and Tobago Chapter (CYEN-TT) will build the capacity of youth so that they are aware of the impacts of climate change and have a stronger voice to call for urgent action.
  • Environmental Research Institute Charlotteville (ERIC) will educate coastal residents in north-east Tobago about the impacts of climate change on their communities and what needs to be done to adapt.
  • Environment Tobago (ET) will conduct vulnerability assessments of coastal areas in south-east Tobago and collaborate with government, private sector and residents to identify what are the priority actions needed to build resilience to the impacts of climate change on these areas.
  • Fondes Amandes Reforestation Project (FACRP) will partner with universities to expand its research on what tree species are resilient to climate change and therefore best suited for ongoing reforestation in the western Northern Range in areas destroyed by annual fires.
  • Turtle Village Trust (TVT) will educate coastal communities in north-east Trinidad and Tobago about the impacts of climate change on sea turtles and coastal and marine ecosystems and what needs to be done to adapt.

At the evaluation workshop, the CSOs also engaged with invited partners from government, international agencies and private sector donors for a highly interactive round of group presentations and “speed dating” to discuss potential future areas of collaboration. Responses from the invited partners included “smitten” and “very proud”, and before leaving they urged the participating CSOs to be proactive in initiating their “second dates” to discuss specific opportunities for collaboration on climate adaptation initiatives moving forward.

Credit: Caribbean News Now!

Eastern and Southern Caribbean Countries to benefit from a new US$25.6 million Climate Change Adaptation Program

Welcome Address by Sharon Lindo, Policy Advisor, CCCCC

PRESS RELEASE – Belmopan, Belize; November 22, 2016 – The Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) and the United States Agency for International Development for the Eastern and Southern Caribbean (USAID)/ESC launched the Climate Change Adaptation Program (CCAP) today, November 22, 2016, at the CCCCC’s headquarters in Belmopan, Belize. The CCAP, which will be implemented by the CCCCC, commits US$25.6 million over four (4) years to boost climate resilient development and reduce climate change induced risks to human and natural assets in ten (10) countries. The beneficiary countries are Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, St. Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, and Suriname.

USAID’s Chief of Mission, Christopher Cushing, the wide array of stakeholders in attendance at the program launch stated that, “this partnership seeks to reduce the risks to human and natural assets resulting from climate variability in the Eastern and Southern Caribbean. We will work together with the 5Cs to create an integrated system to sustainably adapt to climate change in the ECS.

The climate resilient development initiative contributes to a coherent regional effort to tackle climate change induced challenges in the Caribbean. It builds upon both USAID’s Eastern and Southern Caribbean Regional Development Cooperative Strategy, which is addressing development challenges in the Eastern and Southern Caribbean, and the CCCCC’s Regional Framework for Achieving Development Resilient to a Changing Climate and its associated Implementation Plan that were unanimously endorsed by Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Heads.

“Our helping communities and government manage their water sources or sometimes, the lack thereof, is encouraging the private sector and others to adopt renewable energy approaches while working with governments so they can develop the right frameworks and policies to encourage the uptake of renewable,” states Cushing.

The Executive Director of the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre, Dr. Kenrick Leslie, added that the Program shows the value of partnership for capacity building and realising tangible outcomes.

He noted that “donor countries stand with us side by side because they recognized the need for an institution that would help lead the way to address the issues of climate change and sea level rise. While CCAP is a program to help the Eastern and Southern Caribbean countries, it is helping the Centre to have the skills that will help us to propel the needs of our region in developing programmes to meet our obligations.”

Peruse the Climate Change Adaptation Program’s Project Brief

See photos from the signing ceremony here.

CDB engages regional water and waste management specialists in Trinidad

The Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) recently partnered with the Caribbean Water and Wastewater Association (CWWA), to host the largest gathering of water and waste-management specialists from across the Caribbean at the CWWA 2016 Conference and Exhibition.

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“Clean water is one of the key pillars of human development and its importance cannot be overstated. The use and management of water impacts all of today’s leading global challenges, including: energy generation and usage; food security; natural disaster management; and the management of the environment. CDB therefore, has a vested interest in the well-being of the water and sanitation sector because it is key to us achieving our development mandate,” said L. O’Reilly Lewis, portfolio manager, CDB during the opening ceremony for the CWWA Conference.

The bank sponsored a high level forum (HLF) for water ministers in the Caribbean, which included presentations from CDB representatives, and also engaged with conference attendees at its booth in the exhibition hall.

The high level forum is a key mechanism for water-sector-related policy dialogue, bringing together government ministers and senior officials from across the Caribbean, as well as development partners and key stakeholders.

“CDB was instrumental in the establishment of HLF, playing an integral role in the planning and financing of the first forum in 2005 in Barbados… There is a commonality of challenges facing Caribbean countries and recognition of the fact that the sharing of experiences, expertise and knowledge — including best practices — is key in promoting more strategic approaches at the regional and national levels,” said Daniel Best, director of projects at the CDB.

Topics covered included economic drivers that must be considered in investments in the water and wastewater sector in the Caribbean, promoting the regional water agenda linked to the Sustainable Development Goals (Goal 6) and SAMOA in the context of climate change and disaster reduction and case studies, focusing on drought conditions in Jamaica and the impact of Tropical Storm Erika on the water sector in Dominica. CDB also participated in a panel discussion on how countries can access concessional funding, specifically through the Adaptation Fund, and the Green Climate Fund, which recently accredited the bank as a partner institution.

“This important policy dialogue on climate financing for the water sector is central to the bank’s strategy…This forum provides the bank with a timely opportunity to build awareness of its role as an accredited body to facilitate access to concessional financing from the Adaptation Fund, and the Green Climate Fund, for much needed water infrastructure investments in the Caribbean,” said Best.

The CWWA conference took place from October 25-27, in Trinidad and Tobago. This is the 25th year that the conference is being held.

Credit: Caribbean News Now!

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

IDB fund climate change adaptation programme in Tobago involving underwater sculptures

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Buccoo Reef, Tobago

The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) has provided US$500,000 in grant financing to The Cropper Foundation in Trinidad and Tobago to implement a pilot programme utilizing underwater sculptures as a unique approach to climate change adaptation in the Buccoo Reef area.

Trinidadian artist Peter Minshall will create two Carnival-themed sculptures, part of a work known as Tobago Water Colours, in the area of Buccoo reef off Tobago, in one component of a programme on adapting to the impacts of climate change.

Buccoo Reef has been damaged by land-based nutrient run-off and years of excess visits from snorkelers and scuba divers.

The IDB-funded project is intended to provide an alternative destination for tourists that will also provide a new source of income for the tourism, cultural and creative industries of the area, while allowing Buccoo Reef to recover.

The programme will include a focus on marketing and financial sustainability for the new attraction. An additional component of the technical assistance grant will finance a study that will explore options to reduce anthropogenic pollution loading on the reef’s ecosystem.

“This may help turn the tide at Buccoo. Reflecting the colours of the reef and the movement of the sea, the installation will also be a celebration of our island and our annual Carnival, which is an ancient tradition,” Minshall said.

The IDB grant is being provided for an implementation period of 24 months and is expected to lead to a larger project entailing installation of the complete band of Carnival sculptures, following evaluation of the outcomes of the pilot programme.

The project is part of the Bank’s support for its borrowing member countries’ efforts to adapt to the impacts of climate change, which will require innovative and creative financing and knowledge-based approaches.

Credit: Caribbean 360

Save a Human Being, Hug a tree

Flickr: claxtonbaymangrove

Flickr: ClaxtonBayMangrove Pool

Do you remember that groovy 90’s tune by Counting Crows and Vanessa Carlton that goes, ““they paved paradise and put up a parking lot…took all the trees and put them in a tree museum and charged the people a dollar and a half to see ‘em.” These words ring very true in Trinidad and Tobago (T&T).

Propulsion toward the world’s generalized version of ‘development’ has seen greater emphasis on the destruction of green spaces and inclination toward skyscrapers and paved roads. This does nothing to help fight climate change. Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in particular have at least four natural defences against sea level rise, storm surges, and coastal erosion – coral reefs, seagrass beds, beaches, and our mangrove forests.

We do not need concrete to survive. What we do need is clean oxygen, which is provided by green spaces. Mangroves provide a host of ecosystem services related to climate change adaptation, such as water quality maintenance/pollution control, storm protection, carbon sequestration, and protection against coastal erosion, just to name a few. So why don’t we treat these majestic trees with more respect? Green spaces in our cities are clearly vital for our continuation as a species. However, in Trinidad and Tobago mangroves in particular are disappearing at alarming rates.

According to Rianna Gonzales, National Coordinator of the Caribbean Youth Environment Network- T&T, “for our country, we thrive on the development of the coastlines and this affects our  mangroves forests as they are destroyed to make way for ports and tourism-related development. On our western coast, to build one of the four oil and gas companies, mangroves were demolished. This affected beaches and coastal infrastructure which would otherwise protect T&T from some climate change impacts.”

Estimates by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) suggest that cities are responsible for 75% of global carbon emissions, with transport and buildings being among the largest contributor. At the same time, cities are also vulnerable to climate change impacts.In Port-of-Spain, the capital of T&T, mangrove forests have been ruined. Even though two of our major mangrove forests are protected by the RAMSAR Convention, they aren’t necessarily protected by enforced local law.

We really need to move from the black and white act on the promises we made to the environment. Signatures on paper mean nothing if there is no action,” Gonzales stressed.

Cities are highly concentrated with people, cars, and buildings. They are busy with activities that need a lot of energy and therefore use more fossil fuel compared to rural areas. Many cities in the world such as Tokyo emit the carbon to as much as 62 million tons of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions per year. Tokyo has more emissions in a year than 37 countries in Africa.

Earlier this year, Paris suffered from haze masking the city’s landmarks like the Eiffel Tower. Only yesterday, Beijing raised a “red alert” warning over smog and the city, from schools to business, has gone on a shutdown to protect its people. However, local government must remember the positive outcomes of long-term engagement strategies for creating and maintaining green spaces in the city. Fossil fuel companies in T&T however, continue to rule at the end of it all.

There are already cities in the world who have started its path to sustainability. Speaking at a side event in COP21 called “Global Covenant of Mayors: Towards carbon neutral and inclusive cities”, Mayor Josefa Errazuris of the city of Providencia, Chile, shared “in order to protect our commune and the sustainability of our territory, we must have efforts to include climate change as part of policies.”

In Trinidad and Tobago, the ‘Ministry of Planning and Development’ is responsible for the environment but the addition of the word ‘Sustainable’ to the title would show dedication to mitigation and adaptation measures to climate change. In a study done by the International Development Bank in 2014, mangrove restoration was identified as a key climate adaptation strategy for T&T, so why are they still being removed from the ecosystems? If climate change adaptation is really a significant for policymakers in T&T then conservation of green spaces in our cities need to be prioritized.

Written by: Dizzanne Billy, President of the Caribbean Youth Environment Network (CYEN) in Trinidad and Tobago.

 

Climate health highlighted at COP21- A Trinidadian’s Perspective

 

“Climate change, and all of its dire consequences for health, should be at centre-stage, right now, whenever talk turns to the future of human civilizations. After all, that’s what’s at stake.”Dr Margaret Chan, Director-General, World Health Organization

Many Trinbagonians are proud to say that Trinidad and Tobago is one of the wealthiest countries in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM). Is this something to be pleased about?

The title is a reflection of our status as the main exporter of oil and gas in the Caribbean region and the main producer of liquefied natural gas in the Latin America and the Caribbean. We depend heavily on the extraction of hydrocarbons as the main source of income.  After all, Trinidad and Tobago is ranked second in the world for its carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions per capita, producing an estimated 53 million tonnes of CO2 annually, with 80 per cent coming from the petrochemical and power generation industry. The government needs to find more sources of renewable energy. We emit the most amount of toxic gases into the atmosphere in the Caribbean.

Climate change takes 400,000 lives per year and millions suffer from flooding, diseases, malnourishment, and respiratory problems due to climate change. This is both a threat and an opportunity as it can push countries toward renewable energy. For these reasons, COP21 has seen concern raised by medical professionals regarding the effect climate change has on health. Over 1,700 health organisations are supporting declarations calling on world leaders in Paris to take a serious approach to the escalating climate threats to human health.  The demonstration follows a major recent report in The Lancet that warned 50 years of global health improvements could be thrown into reverse by climate change.

From Europe to the Americas and across Asia-Pacific, over 8,200 hospitals and health centers are already walking the talk: divesting their fossil fuel assets, reducing their emissions, and calling for action on climate change. Trinidad and Tobago needs to step up its game. Stop allowing foreign oil and gas companies to infiltrate our economy and reap benefits while the environment suffers. Instead, we must affirm genuine commitment to renewable energy. It simply makes sense, renewable energy is clean energy.

The government’s aim of 10% renewable energy by 2021 is a start but much more needs to be done. We need healthier, more sustainable cities and the most effective way of quickening up the process is for governments at COP21 to make strong commitments on a deadline for a full phase out of fossil fuels, and agreeing to regularly review and increase national ambition to reach that goal.

In Trinidad and Tobago, emphasis needs to be placed on research and development into the feasibility of various sources of renewable energy and implementation needs to occur quickly. Sensitisation of the local citizens is key, as difficulty in transition also comes from the fact that as an oil and gas-producing country, energy costs in Trinidad and Tobago are extremely low. So it should not be surprising that solar, wind, and hydropower energy are catching on in other islands of the Caribbean where electricity is up to six times more expensive than in Trinidad and Tobago.

The world is shifting toward renewable energy, fossil fuels remain in the past. As we look toward development, Trinidad and Tobago should eventually follow the trend set by the rest of the region.

Written by – Dizzanne Billy

Dizzanne Billy, 24, operates in the role of President of the Caribbean Youth Environment Network (CYEN) in Trinidad and Tobago, where she works in the areas of education and public awareness with regard to environment and development issues. She is a climate tracker with Adopt-A-Negotiator and a young advocate for climate change action.

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