International Strategy for Disaster Reduction
Latin America and the Caribbean   

Newsletter ISDR Inform - Latin America and the Caribbean
Issue: 13/2006- 12/2006 - 11/2005 - 10/2005 - 9/2004 - 8/2003 - 7/2003 - 6/2002 - 5/2002 - 4/2001- 3/2001

Partners in Action


Caribbean Region Preparing for Climate Change

Caribbean Small Island Developing States (SIDS), like other SIDS, share a number of economic challenges, such as a heavy dependence upon narrow resource bases, susceptibility to the vagaries of international trade, lack of economies of scale, high transportation and communication costs, grave vulnerability to natural disasters, scarce land resources, limited availability of human capacity and the means to manage and use natural resources on a sustainable basis, and ever increasing pressures on coastal and marine environments and resources.

These special needs and circumstances were recognized at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) held in Brazil in 1992 and embodied in Agenda 21 which, inter alia, called for “periodic regional and global meetings on sustainable development of small island developing states with the first global conference on the sustainable development of small island developing states, to be held in 1993”. That Global Conference was held in Bridgetown, Barbados in 1994 and its principal outcome was the Barbados Programme of Action (BPOA) which translated Agenda 21 into specific policies, actions and measures to be taken at all levels (national, regional and international) to enable SIDS to achieve sustainable development.

In the BPOA, ‘climate change and sea level rise’ was the first of 14 priority areas requiring “urgent action” for the achievement of sustainable development in SIDS. Adverse effects of GCC such as sea-level rise with associated coastal erosion and salt water intrusion, an escalation in the frequency and intensity of hurricanes and typhoons, and disruptions in precipitation and fresh-water supply threaten the very existence of island nations and low lying coastal states of the Caribbean.

The CARICOM Secretariat, several Caribbean countries and the Organization of American States (OAS) prepared a proposal for a regional project that would assist the countries in preparing to deal with the impacts of climate change. In 1997, the Caribbean Planning for Adaptation to Global Climate Change project (CPACC) was approved by the Global Environment Fund (GEF), and funding was made available through the World Bank. The project is being executed by the OAS in conjunction with the University of the West Indies Centre for Environment and Development (UWICED), through a Regional Project Implementation Unit (RPIU) located in Barbados.

The project’s objective is to assist Caribbean countries in coping with the adverse effects of climate change, particularly sea level rise, in coastal and marine areas, through vulnerability assessment, adaptation planning and related capacity building in its twelve member countries.

These countries are Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, St. Lucia, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Trinidad and Tobago, and the specific activities are coordinated by National Focal Points (NFP’s) in each country.

The Project consists of nine components:

  1. Design and establishment Sea level / Climate monitoring network
  2. Establishment of databases and information systems
  3. Inventory of coastal resources and use
  4. Formulation of a policy Framework for Integrated Coastal and Marine Management
  5. Coral reef monitoring for climate change impacts
  6. Coastal vulnerability and Risk Assessment
  7. Economic Valuation of Coastal and Marine Resources
  8. Formulation of Economic / Regulatory proposals
  9. Preparation of First National Communications for St. Vincent and the Grenadines

Components (i) to (iv) are implemented in all twelve participating countries while components (v) to (ix) are pilot projects implemented in selected countries. The Project has developed a successful model of regional cooperation in addressing the countries’ concerns with Climate Change impacts and has made good progress towards the establishment of expected technical and institutional outputs. It has also emerged as the focal point for regional initiatives aimed at satisfying the region’s obligation under the UNFCCC.

Countries have benefited under the project, through the establishment of a sea level and climate monitoring system, improved access and availability of climate and meteorological data, establishment of coral reef monitoring protocols, the establishment of a network for regional harmonization and in meeting country needs for vulnerability assessments. Novel approaches to the design and use of economic and regulatory instruments to environmental protection in response to threats from climate change have been adopted.

The CPACC approach to its design involved national and regional consultations as it was felt that a generic prescriptive methodology would be inappropriate, and this would ensure that countries felt ownership regarding project activities. It is in this regard that, through a series of national consultations with relevant stakeholders, CPACC countries have begun the process of designing National Climate Change Adaptation Policies and Implementation Plans. To date, the government of St.Lucia has approved it national policy and overall successful implementation in all CPACC countries is expected.

As the implementation of the project nears completion, and understanding and awareness of the region’s vulnerability grows, the main question that remains is how Caribbean SIDS will manage and respond to the specific technical and policy-related problems associated with global climate change and its adverse impacts.

At the First Ministerial meeting to consider progress in the implementation of the SIDSPOA, Ministers mandated that the region should ensure that an adequate institutional mechanism is in place to address climate change issues after the completion of CPACC. Consistent with the recommendation of the ministerial meeting, the CPACC team initiated extensive consultations with various regional institutions, and developed a concept proposal for the establishment and functioning of a Caribbean Climate Change Centre (CCCC).

The concept paper was considered at the ministerial level in the participating countries, and was approved by the Eight Meeting of the Council of Ministers for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) in February 2000, one of the political decision making organs of CARICOM. COTED forwarded the proposal with their endorsement to the meeting of the CARICOM Heads of Government, held in Canouan in July 2000, where the Heads gave their approval for the establishment of a Regional Climate Change Centre.

The Centre will serve as a regional mechanism to anchor, support and sustain the program of action on climate change adaptation for the Caribbean, consistent with the Region’s position before the Conference of Parties (COP) and the meeting of the Subsidiary Bodies on Science and Technology (STAP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

The Centre’s main functions relate directly to the mission it has in supporting the program of action on climate change for the region. It will act as:

  1. An executing agency for regional climate change programs and projects,
  2. An advisory mechanism on climate change policy to CARICOM Secretariat and its member countries;
  3. A source of scientific and technical information on climate change and its potential impacts in the region.

Establishment of a Climate Change Centre in the region mirrors similar initiatives for the strengthening of institutional capacity in this field in Latin America and the rest of the world. It also is in direct response to the recommendations contained in the Institutional Development Initiative (IDI) of the UNFCCC, which has called for the establishment of “Regional Centers of Excellence in Climate Change” at the fifth Conference of Parties. The island nations of the South Pacific have recently taken a similar initiative in articulating the Pacific Islands Climate Change Adaptation Programme (PICCAP).

At present, the Centre has earmarked two projects for execution. The first project, “Adapting to Climate Change in the Caribbean” is funded by the Canadian Climate Change Development Fund (CCCDF). This project will commence implementation in October, and will contribute to the establishment of the Centre, by funding the development of a business plan for the Centre. The CIDA funded project aims to build upon the experiences gained under CPACC, in order to consolidate, extend and make sustainable the climate change responses identified under that project. It is also designed to maintain momentum on climate change issues after CPACC ends, and to lead into a later follow-on project to CPACC.

The second project to be executed by the Centre is the follow-on project to CPACC, entitled “Mainstreaming Adaptation to Global Climate Change” (MACC). Like CPACC, this project will be funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF), with co-funding from several other donors. The CPACC team is presently preparing the MACC project document, with the assistance of a small project development grant (PDF-B) from GEF. It is expected that the full MACC project will receive the endorsement of the GEF council at their December 2001 meeting, and that the World Bank Board of Directors will present it for approval in May 2002.

The principal areas of activity of MACC will be: (a) the introduction of climate change in national and sectoral planning and investment decisions; (b) assisting countries with activities considered under the UNFCCC Stage II Adaptation; and (c) expanding the region’s participation in global climate change monitoring, modeling and impact assessment in support of adaptation planning.

The process of designing the CCCC is now well underway, and its establishment is expected during the second quarter of 2002.

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