CARICOM meeting notes stronger climate change planning

There has been a notable strengthening in regional and national capacity to evaluate, monitor and plan for climate change and related impacts, especially in Guyana, Jamaica, Saint Lucia and Belize, a recent CARICOM meeting stated.

And the Belize-based Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) has reported that there has been “measurable success” in its implementation of the Mainstreaming Adaptation to Climate Change (MACC) project, which expires on March 31, according to a recent press release from the CARICOM Secretariat, Turkeyen.

At  the second Conference of the CARICOM Climate Change held in Saint Lucia on March 23-24, consultant Carlos Santos in delivering his preliminary end-of-project assessment report on the MACC project concluded that the project had “progressed satisfactorily; project funds were properly and judiciously managed and public awareness on climate change had increased significantly during the project’s tenure.”

The MACC project, a World Bank/Global Environment Fund (GEF) activity that was initially executed by the CARICOM Secretariat before it was transferred to the CCCCC, was designed to mainstream climate change adaptation strategies into the sustainable development agendas of CARICOM small island and low-lying states.

The release noted that its five major components are capacity building to identify climate change risks, to reduce vulnerability, to effectively access and utilize resources to contain the costs of climate change impact; public education and outreach and project management.

Meanwhile, besides capacity strengthening to evaluate, monitor and plan for climate change and related impacts, capacity was also strengthened in public education and awareness through several training interventions, Project Manager Joseph McGann pointed out.

In addition, the project has also enjoyed outputs such as the upgrading and networking of the climate and sea-level monitoring infrastructure; the training of meteorological and survey offices to maintain the upgraded stations and manage the use of collected data and the strengthening of the Coral Reef Warning Systems (CREWS) monitoring network.

According to the release, Santos in enumerating some of the major strengths of the project reported that there was significant regional cooperation when negotiating on climate change issues at the international level.

The region, he said, had also benefited from numerous training and capacity-building workshops that dealt with adaptation and vulnerability to climate change even as the regional knowledge base was significantly strengthened through data from reports, workshops and training.

Santos noted also that although vast climate change related data were now available, there was a major challenge in disseminating such data, but the CCCCC had secured financing for a clearinghouse mechanism that would speed up dissemination.

He explained too that national sectoral adaptation strategies were developed in highly participatory fashion in water for Belize and Jamaica, tourism for Barbados, and agriculture for Guyana. He added that the respective Cabinets in the countries were addressing many of the outcomes.
Also of paramount importance, the consultant reported, was that the Caribbean continued to develop common positions on international climate change matters and regularly participate in global fora on climate change.

However, the project has its fair share of challenges.  Both the project manager and the consultant noted that the “mainstreaming component of the project had not reaped significant success as it was not infused into the public psyche and fully integrated into the regional planning processes,” the release stated.

The report also indicated that while climate change was a household phrase in the Caribbean – indicating that the awareness campaigns implemented might have worked – attitudinal and behaviour change had been less than encouraging.

But it was observed, the release stated, that the implementation problems in the initial stages of the project seriously affected the expected outputs, particularly in the Public Education Outreach component which became non-functional at the very time when the information generated by the project needed to be made available to the stakeholders and general public.

MACC is the third regional project dealing with climate change issues in the Caribbean and its implementation followed closely that of the CIDA-funded project “Adaptation to Climate Change in the Caribbean.”

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