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Caribbean communities on the front lines of climate change adaptation

Photo Credit: Stuart Claggett

Newly-released analysis from CDKN has identified a series of approaches to help community-level organisations to increase climate resilience. The analysis focusses on the Caribbean, but has widely applicable lessons for community-based adaptation in other parts of the world. Will Bugler and Olivia Palin explain further:

The research acknowledges that the success of adaptation measures is highly dependent on local context, and shows how multi-level governance approaches can deliver locally-appropriate adaptation actions. By using approaches and methods such as network analysis, community-based vulnerability assessments and a ‘local adaptive capacity framework’, the research suggests that communities can improve the efficacy of climate action at the local level. What’s more the analysis also finds that more co-ordinated action at the local level can lead to increased influence on regional and national decision making.

The new analysis draws on outputs from three CDKN-funded projects spanning a decade’s worth of applied research in the Caribbean region. A summary of the findings is presented in a single ‘knowledge package’, comprising a policy brief, an infographic and a short video. This provides an overview of the multi-level governance approach, and illustrative examples of how it has been applied in Caribbean countries including Jamaica and Saint Lucia.

The key messages from the knowledge package are:

  1. Adapting to climate change is, to a large extent, a local process. Effective solutions to climate challenges should be sensitive to local context.
  2. Multi-stakeholder, multi-level governance approaches are increasingly recognised as best practice for local adaptation.
  3. Local networks of stakeholders can be analysed and shaped to maximise their effectiveness for dealing with external shocks like those from climate impacts.
  4. Community-based approaches to understanding local vulnerability and adaptive capacity can provide useful insight for climate resilience building.
  5. Such approaches also stimulate conversation at the local level, raising awareness and understanding of climate change.
  6. Local level approaches are not effective in isolation, and require good links with regional and national government to maximise their impact.
  7. CDKN funded research offers tools and methods for analysing networks, assessing vulnerability and scaling up local action.

The package consists of an information brief, video and infographic. To access these and to find out more about the research on which they were based visit: www.cdkn.org/caribbean.

Credit: Climate & Development Knowledge Network (CDKN)

Piloting the integration of Climate Change Adaptation and Coastal Zone Management in Southwest Tobago

Trinidad and Tobago is highly vulnerable to the impacts of global climate change; particularly rising temperature, decreased precipitation and sea level rise (SLR). It is anticipated that these changes will have adverse effects on the physical environment and economy. There is therefore a need to reduce the risks associated with the expected impacts of climate change on the country by mainstreaming climate change adaptation into development planning. In December 2012, the Government of Trinidad and Tobago signed a technical cooperation (TC) with the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB) to undertake a pilot study on integrating climate change adaptation (CCA) into coastal zone management (CZM) in SW Tobago.

The Institute of Marine Affairs is the executing agency. Activities under this project began in April 2013 and are expected to be completed in June 2015. The objective of this TC is to develop an ICZM program that incorporates CCA and disaster risk management using an ecosystem based approach. The lessons learnt from this TC will directly inform the development of the broader national ICZM Policy Strategies and Action Plan. The TC will also lay the foundation for future investments in a coastal risk assessment and management program in Trinidad and Tobago.

l-r: Dr. Amoy Lum Kong; Mr. Hayden Spencer, Assistant Secretary, THA; Mr. Garth Ottley Member of the Board of Governors of IMA at the launch.

l-r: Dr. Amoy Lum Kong; Mr. Hayden Spencer, Assistant Secretary, THA; Mr. Garth Ottley Member of the Board of Governors of IMA at the launch.

Activities completed to date under this TC included the following:

  • Gap analysis – review of the legislative, policy and institutional information an capacity arrangements related to CZM and climate change in Trinidad and Tobago.
  • Vulnerability and Risk Assessment – the development of climate-related hazard vulnerability and risk assessments of the coastal zone area of Southwest Tobago based on climate variability (existing climatic events) and climate change scenarios.
  • Coastal ecosystem-based climate change adaptation response plan – the design and implementation of an adaptation response plan for coastal ecosystems in Southwest Tobago which included the deployment of an coral reef early warning system (CREWS) on Buccoo Reef and enhancement of a long-term water quality monitoring program.
  • General guidelines for incorporating an ecosystem based approach to adaptation into a national ICZM Policy – produce guidelines that incorporate CCA into an ICZM Policy, including identification of best management practices for adapting coastal economic activities to risk.
GAP Analysis -The Legislative, Policy and Institutional Arrangement for CCA and ICZM

While Trinidad and Tobago has a National Climate Change Policy (NCCP), it does not specifically address ICZM and CCA on the coast, though it does note the effects of rising sea level and temperature. Research has shown that there is a lack of specific policies to treat with CZM and CCA although various policies address ICZM in a piecemeal and fragmented manner. Moreover, the policies are dated and those that exist are not implemented. In addition, it is important to recognise that ICZM and CC adaptation cannot be dealt with without reference to other policies. In situations where a policy names several organisations with responsibility to implement, the absence of specific provisions on ICZM and CC adaptation can translate into non-action. There is little in existing policies that indicate how the policies are to be used as part of an ICZM plan or for CCA as it relates to the coast. Development plans suffer from a similar lack of specificity as it relates to ICZM and CCA.

There are some 20 pieces of legislation that can potentially address ICZM. The multiplicity of laws and policies impacting on coastal areas gives rise to as much as twenty nine (29) institutions having a defined legal and/or policy role. This creates problems such as overlapping jurisdiction, the independence syndrome, and a lack of proper co-ordination of the work of enforcement and management agencies. Key problems confronting State entities with responsibility for aspects of coastal zone management are the lack of sufficient resources, the most important being financial resources and the presence of little or no public awareness of the importance of coastal areas to the society. Public education programs are limited and sporadic and have generally failed to transform attitudes towards sustainably using coastal areas in Trinidad and Tobago. These problems have led to unsustainable utilization of our coastal resources.

The legal and institutional structure for ICZM must be customised:

  • to meet the needs of T&T;
  • to the nature of its coastal areas,
  • to the institutional and governmental arrangements; and
  • to the country’s traditions, cultures and economic conditions of Trinidad and Tobago.

There are accepted principles and characteristics associated with the ICZM concept that focuses on three operational objectives:

  • Strengthening sectoral management, for example, through training, legislation, and staffing
  • Preserving and protecting the productivity and biological diversity of coastal ecosystems, mainly through prevention of habitat destruction, pollution, and overexploitation
  • Promoting rational development and sustainable utilization of coastal resources.
Vulnerability and Risk Assessment

Southwest Tobago is home to an estimated 70% of the population of Tobago. The area houses the majority of development associated with housing, hotels and resorts. The coastal area includes Buccoo Reef and other fringing coral reef formations, which have been identified as invaluable to Tobago’s tourism industry. The viability of SW Tobago can be stated through social, financial and environmental considerations. All of these considerations are dependent on a healthy, productive coastal
environment. Adverse climate changes may thus threaten the sustainability of not only the SW region but all of Tobago.

Halcrow, a CH2M HILL Company, was contracted to undertake a study to develop a vulnerability and risk assessment for South West Tobago based on climate change scenarios. The assessment was used to formulate a Coastal Vulnerability Index (CVI) which will identify areas that are at risk to erosion and/or permanent or temporary coastal flooding. The results will be applied to better understand the risk of climate change to the region so that educated decisions can be applied at policy and planning levels.

Adam Hosking of Halcrow presenting on Vulnerability and Risk Assessment for Southwest Tobago based on climate change scenarios at IMA’s 14th Research Symposium.

Adam Hosking of Halcrow presenting on Vulnerability and Risk Assessment for Southwest Tobago based on climate change scenarios at IMA’s 14th Research Symposium.

In June 2014, Halcrow facilitated a training workshop with key stakeholders on the methodology being applied to the assessment. The preliminary result of the risk assessment and CVI was presented at the IMA 14th Research Symposium held at the Madgalena Hotel, Tobago in September 2015. This assessment is currently being finalised.

Installation of a Coral Reef Early Warning System (CREWS) at Buccoo Reef

In an effort to monitor and build capacity to adapt to the impacts of climate change, a CREWS buoy was deployed on Buccoo Reef, Tobago in November 2013. The customized CREWS buoy, referred to as Winky by fisherfolks and dive operators, is designed to measure, record and transmit key meteorological and water quality measurements. Meteorological sensors that measure air temperature, wind speed and direction, barometric pressure, rainfall, photosynthetically available radiation (PAR), ultraviolet radiation (UVR), and specialized oceanographic sensors and site specific sensors are also included.

Addison Titus, IMA Marine Technician (l), and Jon Fajans, secure the CREWS buoy

Addison Titus, IMA Marine Technician (l), and Jon Fajans, secure the CREWS buoy

The data collected is available to scientists and other stakeholders to predict possible threats to the reef environment from climate change impacts and from land-based sources of pollution. The data can be downloaded from the link featured below.
A tide gauge would be installed during the first quarter of 2015 to monitor sea level.

Coral Reef Early Warning System (CREWS)

Coral Reef Early Warning System (CREWS)

CREWS data – www.coral.noaa.gov/data/icon-network/crews-data-reports.html

Read more: ICZM Newsletter Issue 3 – January 2015

Caribbean urged to brace for impact of climate change

Water, Land, Environment and Climate Change Minister, Robert Pickersgill (left), I discussions with CCCCC Executive Director, Dr. Kenrick Leslie (right) (JIS PHOTO)

Water, Land, Environment and Climate Change Minister, Robert Pickersgill (left), I discussions with CCCCC Executive Director, Dr. Kenrick Leslie (right) (JIS PHOTO)

A two-week regional training workshop on climate change has started here with a warning that the Caribbean could suffer billions of dollars in losses over the next few years as a result of climate change.

“As a region, we have to assist each other in every conceivable way imaginable,” said Water, Land, Environment and Climate Change Minister Robert Pickersgill at the start of the workshop that is being organised by the Belize-based Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) in partnership with several regional governments and the Mona campus of the University of the West Indies (UWI).

It is being held under the theme “The use of sector-specific biophysical models in impact and vulnerability assessment in the Caribbean”.

Pickersgill said that Caribbean countries needed to work together to boost technical expertise and infrastructure in order to address the effects of the challenge.

He said global climate change was one of the most important challenges to sustainable development in the Caribbean.

Citing a recent report from the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), he noted that while the contribution of Caribbean countries to greenhouse gas emissions is insignificant, the projected impacts of global climate change on the Caribbean region are expected to be devastating.

Pickersgill said that according to experts, by the year 2050, the loss to the mainstay tourism industry in the Caribbean as a result of climate change-related impacts could be in the region of US$900 million.

In addition, climate change could cumulatively cost the region up to US$2 billion by 2053, with the fishing industry projected to lose some US$140 million as at 2015.

He said the weather activity in sections of the Eastern Caribbean over the Christmas holiday season was a prime example of this kind of devastation.

The low level trough resulted in floods and landslides in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, St. Lucia and Dominica. At least 15 people were killed and four others missing. The governments said they would need “hundreds of millions of dollars” to rebuild the battered infrastructures.

“For a country the size of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, this loss is significant and could result in their having to revise their GDP (gross domestic product) projections. (Therefore), while one cannot place a monetary value on the loss of lives, the consequences in terms of dollar value to Small Island Developing States (SIDS) is also important,” Pickersgill said.

“It only takes one event to remind us of the need to become climate resilient in a region projected to be at the forefront of climate change impacts in the future,” Pickersgill said, adding that he hoped the regional training workshop would, in some meaningful way, advance the Caribbean’s technical capabilities to meet the future projections head-on and be successful.

He said the workshop has particular relevance to Jamaica as one of the SIDS that is most vulnerable to climate change.

The two-week programme forms part of the European Union (EU)-funded Global Climate Change Alliance Caribbean Support Project, which is geared towards the creation and financing of policies that can reduce the effects of climate change as well as improved climate monitoring within the region.

The Global Climate Change Alliance project is to be implemented over 42 months and will benefit Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago.

CCCCC Programme Manager, Joseph McGann, said the project would include several activities including: enhancing national and regional institutional capacity in areas such as climate monitoring; data retrieval and the application of space-based tools for disaster risk reduction; development of climate scenarios and conducting climate impact studies using Ensemble modeling techniques; vulnerability assessments that can assist with the identification of local/national adaptation; and mitigation interventions.

CMC/id/ir/2014

Credit: CMC
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