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Study: Climate change will lead to annual coral bleaching in the Caribbean

 

Coral bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef. Photo Credit: Paul Marshall

A new study has predicted that if current trends continue and the world fails to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, nearly all of the world’s coral reefs, including many in the Caribbean, will suffer severe bleaching — the gravest threat to one of the Earth’s most important ecosystems — on annual basis.

The finding is part of a study funded by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and partners, which reviewed new climate change projections to predict which corals will be affected first and at what rate.

The report is published in the journal Nature Scientific Reports. Researchers found that the reefs in Taiwan and the Turks and Caicos archipelago will be among the first to experience annual bleaching, followed by reefs off the coast of Bahrain, in Chile and in French Polynesia.

Calling the predictions “a treasure trove” for environmentalists, the head of the UN agency, Erik Solheim, said the projects allow conservationists and governments to prioritise reef protection.

“The projections show us where we still have time to act before it’s too late,” Solheim said.

On average, the reefs started undergoing annual bleaching from 2014, according to the study.

Without the required minimum of five years to regenerate, the annual occurrences will have a deadly effect on the corals and disrupt the ecosystems which they support, UNEP said.

However, it said that if governments act on emission reduction pledges made in the Paris Agreement, which calls on countries to combat climate change and limit global temperature rise to below two degrees Celsius, the corals would have another 11 years to adapt to the warming seas.

Between 2014 and 2016, UNEP said the world witnessed the longest global bleaching event recorded.

Among the casualties, it said, was the Great Barrier Reef, with 90 per cent of it bleached and 20 per cent of the reef’s coral killed.

Credit: Jamaica ObserverUnited Nations Environment Programme

The Green Climate Fund Accredits the 5Cs!

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

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

5Cs Accredited As Regional Implementing Entity by the Green Climate Fund:

Other accredited institutions include Conservation International, the World Bank and IDB

Songdo, Republic of Korea| July 09, 2015― The Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre has been accredited as a regional implementing entity by the Board of the Green Climate Fund (GCF), a key multilateral financing mechanism to support climate action in developing countries. The announcement made today at the tenth meeting of the GCF Board means the CCCCC will act as a channel through which the Fund will deploy resources to the Caribbean.

This is a key achievement for the small island developing states (SIDS) of the Caribbean. Executive Director Dr. Kenrick Leslie says:

“This is the first such accreditation for the Caribbean region. It speaks to the high calibre of work being done in the region and the strength of our internal systems. We will now move forward with a set of ambitious and bankable projects that we have been developing under a directive from CARICOM Heads”.

The CCCCC is one of 13 institutions accredited by the GCF today, including Conservation International, the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank and others. The GCF notes that the expansion in accreditation is demand driven.

 We are building a vibrant network of partners – which is evidence of a rising demand for an active GCF,” said Ms. Héla Cheikhrouhou, Executive Director of the Green Climate Fund. “Seven months ago we invited institutions for the first time to become partners with us. Today, close to 100 well-established institutions from around the world are working towards becoming GCF accredited entities,” she said. “We have added to this momentum by boosting our number of accredited entities to 20.

Accreditation to GCF is open to sub-national, national, regional and international, public, private and non-governmental institutions which are eligible to apply through the Fund’s Online Accreditation System (OAS). Applicants are assessed on their abilities to meet fiduciary, environmental, social, and gender requirements set out by the Fund.

 The 13 institutions accredited today are:

  1. Africa Finance Corporation (AFC), a public-private institution that provides support for sustainable development of infrastructure in Africa, based in Nigeria;
  2. Agence Française de Développement (AFD), a development finance institute, headquartered in France;
  3. Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC), a public organization that coordinate’s the Caribbean’s response to climate change, headquartered in Belize;
  4. Conservation International Foundation (CI), a non-profit environmental organization based in the United States;
  5. Corporación Andina de Fomento (CAF), a regional development bank, headquartered in Venezuela;
  6. Deutsche Bank Aktiengesellschaft (Deutsche Bank AG), an international investment bank based in Germany;
  7. Environmental Investment Fund of Namibia (EIF), which supports projects that ensure sustainable use of natural resources;
  8. European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), a multilateral development bank, headquartered in the United Kingdom;
  9. Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), a multilateral development bank, headquartered in the United States;
  10. International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) and the International Development Association (IDA), together known as the World Bank, headquartered in the United States;
  11. Ministry of Natural Resources of Rwanda (MINIRENA), which focuses on environment, climate change, and natural resources management at the national and local levels;
  12. National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD), a national financial institution based in India; and the
  13. United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), headquartered in Kenya.

Do you know how climate change affects the Caribbean? Peruse this video of Five Things You Should Know.

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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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UNEP ‘Our Planet’ 2015 Focuses on SDGs

world

Credit: UNEP

An integrated, universal approach to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the post-2015 development agenda is essential, according to the 2015 issue of ‘Our Planet,’ a publication from the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).

UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner discusses the importance of integration, universality, climate change mitigation, governance and accountability, and financing. He writes that linking the SDGs with climate change mitigation will help countries build energy-efficient, low-carbon infrastructure and achieve sustainable development.

In an article by Tommy Remengesau, Jr., President, Palau, he explains that healthy, productive, resilient oceans are critical to preserving and restoring the balance between humans and nature, and ensuring economic prosperity, food security, health and culture, particularly in Small Island Developing States (SIDS). Remengesau advocates for a stand-alone SDG on oceans, and says Palau’s national conservation efforts must be “amplified and augmented by work at the international level” in order to make a difference.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights should guide the elaboration of the SDGs, writes Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. He stresses that human rights, such as the rights to education, food, health and water, are about empowerment, not charity, and underscores the importance of empowering citizens to be involved in crafting and implementing the SDGs. He adds that “universality applies not just to universal application, but also to universal participation and ownership of the goals.”

UK Environmental Audit Select Committee Chair Joan Walley cautions that reducing the number of SDGs “risks relegating environmental sustainability to a side issue,” and could shatter “the carefully negotiated consensus.” She also argues for communicating the goals to the public, particularly youth.

Other articles address: the European Commission’s (EC) energy and climate framework, which will promote a low-carbon, resource-efficient economy; the UN Environment Assembly’s (UNEA) role in moving towards an integrated, universal approach to the SDGs; the role of central banks in shifting towards inclusive, environmentally sustainable development; a carbon pricing system; national accounting systems and inequalities; and chemicals and hazardous substances, among other issues.

The issue also highlights the Montreal Protocol as an “ozone success” and a model for achieving a green economy and the SDGs, achievements by UNEP’s Poverty-Environment Initiative (PEI), and the UNEP Finance Initiative’s work to align the financial system with a low-carbon, carbon resilient green economy. [Publication: Our Planet: Time for Global Action]

Credit: SIDS Policy & Practice

Bookmark This: International Meeting of the Ecosystem-Based Adaptation Community of Practice

EBA

International Meeting of the Ecosystem-Based Adaptation Community of Practice

26-27 February 2015 – Lima, Peru

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) REGATTA and Practical Action Latin America are pleased to invite the members of the Ecosystem-Based Adaptation (EbA) Community of Practice to apply for participating on an international meeting to be held on Thursday 26 and Friday 27 February 2015 in the city of Lima, Peru.

Objectives
The international meeting aims to strengthen the EbA community members’ network. For this, their participants will present and discuss different aspects of their experiences in EbA and will identify initiatives of mutual collaboration.

Participants’ profile
We are looking for the participation of members that have implemented EbA measures, of practitioners with possibilities of influence in relevant government and technical cooperation projects or programmes, and of those members that have contributed or participated in modules and/or webinars.

Content
The first day of the international meeting the main challenges of EbA measures implementation will be discussed through the presentation of community members’ experiences in parallel sessions. The second day will be centered mainly in the discussion of joint initiatives, sustainable mechanisms for the community and fellowship activities.

Application
The international meeting is open to all participants of the community of practice, but it will be possible to fund the participation of around 30 people. For those interested, please fill the application format and send it to info@solucionespracticas.org.pe by Friday 19 December 2014 (5 pm Panamá EST) with the subject “EbA Meeting Application”. Early applications will have better chances. Participants receiving funding will be paid transport, accommodation and food costs.

Candidates will be assessed based on the EbA experience they present, on their possibility to influence government and technical cooperation projects or programmes, and on their contribution to the EbA community so far. Any application received after 19 December 2014 will not be considered.

Those interested in participating in the meeting self-financing their costs should send the participation form completed to info@solucionespracticas.org.pe by Friday 16 January 2014 (5 pm Panamá EST) with the subject “EbA Meeting Participation”.

Timetable
Call                                              :           Friday 5 September 2014
Applications deadline             :           Friday 19 December 2014
Results                                        :           Friday 9 January 2015
EbA International Meeting    :           Thursday 26 and Friday 27 February 2015

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)

Consultancy Opportunity for CCAC

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) office in Panama is seeking a consultant to coordinate activities related to the Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC): a Latin America and Caribbean regional assessment of short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs); and activities to support national planning for action on SLCPs (SNAP). Learn more about this post  under the vacancy section of the PNUMA  website: http://www.pnuma.org/vacantes/index.php. Expressions of interest are due by 30 June 2014.

See Terms of Reference here.

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

President Ramotar lauds work of region’s Climate Change Centre – as task force is set up

(Left to Right) Selwin Hart, Dr. Kenrick Leslie, Dr. Ulric Trotz

(Left to Right) Selwin Hart, Dr. Kenrick Leslie, Dr. Ulric Trotz

President Donald Ramotar lauded the work of the Caribbean Community Climate Change Center (CCCCC) during his presentation today, to CARICOM Heads of Government during their 25th Inter-Sessional Meeting at the Buccament Bay Resort, Kingstown, St Vincent and the Grenadines.

The Leaders agreed to establish a CARICOM Climate Change Task Force to provide guidance to Caribbean climate change negotiators, their Ministers and the region’s political leaders. The CCCCC, along with the CARICOM Secretariat has been tasked with setting up the task force and facilitating its work.

Guyana has been playing a lead role with regards to climate change, and priority projects on adaptation are outlined within its visionary Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS), which seeks to address the effects of climate change while simultaneously encouraging economic development.

The CARICOM Heads also reaffirmed the mandate of the CCCCC, to develop in partnership with member states, a portfolio of bankable projects eligible for climate financing and which is to be presented to the donor community for support.

The Centre is recognised by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and other international agencies as the focal point for climate change issues in the Caribbean.

“This is a critical decision by Heads at a time when efforts are underway through the UN (United Nations) to have a global climate change agreement by the end of 2015. We need to ensure that as a region, our voices are being heard on this important issue, and not only from our technical people, but from the collective political leadership in the region,” President Ramotar noted.

He re-emphasised the need for there to be a globally binding agreement on climate change.

“We have to ensure that we push for a climate change agreement by 2015 which is ambitious in terms of emission reduction targets and providing climate financing,” the Head of State said.

He also stressed that, despite the difficulties faced with climate financing and support for adaptation and climate resilience, the region needs to aggressively tap into opportunities that exist now, while it organises for future possibilities.  

The President noted that the CCCCC and Guyana have been working closely since its establishment and closer ties are being developed as part of the LCDS implementation.

The CCCCC coordinates the Caribbean region’s response to climate change. Officially opened in August 2005, the Centre is the key node for information on climate change issues and on the region’s response to managing and adapting to climate change in the Caribbean, its website states.

On June 8, 2009 former President Bharrat Jagdeo launched the LCDS that outlines Guyana’s vision to promote economic development, while at the same time combating climate change.  A revised version was published on May 24, 2010 and subsequently the LCDS update was launched in March 2013.

Major efforts have been taken to build the country’s capacity to adapt to the anticipated impacts of climate, including extreme weather patterns and sea-level rise leading to flooding.

The LCDS will support the upgrading of infrastructure and assets to protect against flooding through urgent, near-term measures. Specifically, the LCDS update, identified the project area “Climate Resilience, Adaptation and Water Management Initiatives” for which up to US$100 million will be allocated to improve Guyana’s capacity to address climate change.

Published by: GINA and Kaieteur News.

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