The pace of climate hazards is increasing in intensity and magnitude worldwide, especially in the Caribbean, putting this matter as a global top-priority for policy-makers and international organizations. The increasing and consistent change in weather patterns, intensity and frequency of hurricanes, the rise of sea levels, increasing droughts and floods phenomena are strong indicators that preparedness, adaptation and mitigation plans for disaster risk and climate hazards management are mandatory requirements to prevent the depletion of natural resources and to safeguard food security and nutrition.
The Small Island Developing States (SIDS) of the Caribbean are vulnerable and susceptible to natural disasters, and while some islands have experienced increased flooding due to a rise in sea levels, recurrent droughts and the increasing presence of sargassum seaweed, the common thread of destruction continues to be that of hurricanes.
A mere two years ago, Hurricane Maria devastated the nature island of Dominica, the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico claiming lives, destroying homes and left economies wobbling and staggering to regain their footing. The islands which depend heavily on agriculture for livelihoods as well as for export were doubly affected when staple and cash crops were wiped out, and reliance had to be placed on assistance from the regional and international community for their recovery efforts. Indeed, food value chain systems in the Caribbean (crops, livestock, forestry, fisheries and aquaculture) provide and create employment across the region and any severe effects of climate change can cause spikes in unemployment rates, a decrease in food security and nutrition and an increase in the food import bill.
As part of FAO’s revised Strategic Framework, the organization will seek to “make agriculture, forestry and fisheries more productive and sustainable” and “increase the resilience of livelihoods to threats and crises,” respectively. This objective can be achieved by assisting “countries to prepare for natural and human-caused disasters by reducing their risk and enhancing the resilience of their food and agricultural systems which are affected by climate change.
Dr Renata Clarke, Sub-regional Coordinator for FAO indicated that the time to put measures in place to mitigate the risks associated with climate change is now. “It is against this background that FAO, the Government of Mexico, the Government of Canada, CARICOM, national bodies responsible for risk management, namely the agriculture and environment ministries, as well as sub-national government entities, among other national stakeholders, will all be participating in the upcoming three-day training workshop on Project Formulation for Green Climate Fund (GCF),” Dr Clarke said.
“The participants will learn how to develop proposals responding to the GCF requirements, which will assist Caribbean SIDS in implementing low-emissions, climate resilient measures in accordance with their national priorities and action plans and international commitments,” Dr Clarke continued.
“As the regional agency with responsibility for coordinating the Caribbean Community’s (CARICOM) response to climate change and a GCF Accredited entity, we believe that it is critical to prepare the people of the region to design projects that are effective and sustainable, and that will enable all of us to withstand the challenges of Climate Change, some of which are already being experienced,” said Dr Ulric Trotz, science advisor and deputy executive director at the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC).
The Mexican Agency for International Development Cooperation (AMEXCID), one of the main project partners, has pledged USD$5 million over a five-year period, which will represent a Pre-Investment Fund for the development of project proposals for climate adaptation and mitigation actions for funding considerations by the Green Climate Fund (GCF), the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and European Union mechanisms.
The fund also includes a specific amount of resources for capacity development and South-South Cooperation for national teams participating in project implementation. Meanwhile, FAO who contributed to the fund for up to USD$250,000 will also continue to provide technical assistance to governments to strengthen project design and implementation. The Government of Canada has also recently pledged to contribute to the Pre-investment Fund.
In this context and with the aim of strengthening the Caribbean in the resilience and adaptation of agri-food systems to climate change, Mexico and FAO launched the Mexico-CARICOM-FAO Initiative “Cooperation for Adaptation and Resilience to Change Climate in the Caribbean,” which was also joined by Canada. This training is being carried out in this framework,” stated Amexcid.
Gianluca Gondolini, the GCF-GEF Project Task Manager for FAO for the Caribbean expressed gratitude towards the partners for their financial and technical assistance and cited that the financial contributions of the Government of Mexico and the Government of Canada will foster the success of the training and pave the way towards concrete climate-resilient agriculture in the Caribbean. He also indicated that the workshop is very important for participants to obtain all the relevant knowledge in responding to climate finance requirements in an effort to reduce the vulnerability of Caribbean SIDS.
He indicated that, “we have 40 climate experts, policy and technical officers from participating countries including, Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Saint Lucia, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, and expect them to be fully engaged and equipped with knowledge, technical skills and capacities as a result of the training co-organised by FAO and CCCCC”. (PR)