By Naomi Parris
DESPITE the many differences among Caribbean nations, climate change poses a serious threat to them all, and, as such, the Caribbean Development Bank, in collaboration with the University of the West Indies (UWI), on Thursday, hosted a ‘Climate SMART’ initiative to urge Caribbean countries to become aware of the effects of this phenomenon.
The workshop was held at the Pegasus Hotel where personnel from the finance, health, tourism and education sectors of the Caribbean were in attendance.
Professor Michael Taylor, Director of Climate Studies Group and Dean of the Faculty of Science and Technology (FST), UWI, Mona, told reporters that climate change in the Caribbean Region has manifested itself over the past years.
According to Taylor, there has been significant change in the rainfall patterns in the Caribbean.
“Our whole rainfall routine is changing… couple of years we don’t get it and suddenly it re-appears or even the nature of how rain falls; sometimes we have these long dry spells and we don’t get rain and sometimes we get a lot of rain so the rainfall patterns are becoming more variable”.
Professor Taylor added that the sea levels are rising across the entire Caribbean Region and that almost every Caribbean country has an area which was land that is now covered by the sea. This he noted leads to wind and storm events.
He noted that climate change has manifested by more extreme hurricanes, droughts, floods and other natural disasters such as the recent hurricanes – Dorian and Jose – which occurred in the Caribbean Region.
Professor Taylor further explained that there is a significant and devastating impact that is attached to climate change in relation to the aftermath of disasters such as hurricanes and flood.
After such events, there is usually a significant damage to infrastructure, including health and electricity infrastructure. There is also a halt in the tourism sectors which cost the economies of countries in the Region.
“There is a significant, immediate and devastating effect of something like hurricane or flood and that has its effects right across our society … you can put those effects in any sector. In the health sector, there is a demand for those services in those kinds of devastating impact; the education sector, the disruption of schools, teachers and students suffer greatly; agriculture, the destruction of crops… and it cost their economy quite a lot because now they have to spend money to recover from all of that,” the academic explained.
The workshop sought to enlighten and involve every sector of the Caribbean. The State of the Caribbean Climate (SOCC) report has been prepared, which provides critical analysis and discussion on Caribbean climate, including, observed variability and trends, recent extreme events, projections for key variables, observed and potential impacts for climate sensitive sectors as well as an overview of climate information and services within the Region.
Additionally, Dr. Yves Personna, Programme Manager, ACP-EU-CDB NDRM programme, Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) stated that the CDB has a commitment to help its Caribbean member countries to reduce inequality and poverty by 2025.
In this light, the CDB has constructed a climate resilience strategic plan which raised some $85.5 billion (US$410 M) to support disaster risk management and climate resilience interventions in the Caribbean Region.
The two-day workshop was the first of three planned climate-resilient events by the organisers.