Caribbean Tourism: Climate Smart and Sustainable

Project Background

Managing d climate and disaster risks and impacts has been a priority for governments in the Caribbean for many years. In 2014, when the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) group of States established the Natural Disaster Risk Management Programme (NDRM) with funding from the European Union, the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) became one of the first implementing partners. The NDRM Programme is a euro 20 million initiative that aims  to improve the Caribbean’s capacity to prepare for, manage, respond to and recover from the potential impacts of natural hazards.

The NDRM Programme has funded a range of resilience building projects and works closely with regional stakeholders; one such stakeholder is the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO). Recognizing the impact of climate change on the Caribbean tourism sector, the CTO  took steps to build resilience of the sector through the “Supporting Climate Smart and Sustainable Caribbean Tourism Industry” project.

Implementing actors and responsibilities

Amanda Charles, Sustainable Tourism Specialist at the Caribbean Tourism Organization, explains that in 2017, through support from the NDRM, the CTO was successful in being awarded this project which benefitted eighteen member countries of the CTO and CDB.

Objectives

The project focused on improving the capacity of CTO and member countries of both CTO and CDB to mainstream climate change and disaster risk reduction considerations in tourism sector policies, planning and operations. Key project activities involved preparing a strategy document and a disaster risk management guide for the Caribbean tourism sector, as well as compiling a series of knowledge products related to best practices in sustainable and responsible tourism.

Achievements

The project has been very successful in strengthening the capacities of Caribbean tourism stakeholders.  CTO published 3 key project deliverables: (a) Caribbean Sustainable Tourism Policy and Development Framework, (b) Multi-Hazard Risk Management Guide for the Caribbean Tourism Sector and (c) CTO’s Training Platform and two Online Courses. CTO delivered a regional tourism education and awareness campaign via CTO’s Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn social media pages. The Campaign also included a 7-part video miniseries which were produced and aired on CaribVision Television. The campaign has reached  over 2.3 million viewers in 23 countries across the region. It has engaged over 300 000 persons who shared, liked, or commented on the 80 visuals that were posted.

The project facilitated capacity development through five national training workshops in member countries deemed to be very vulnerable and recently impacted by extreme hazards; these include Haiti, Dominica, The Bahamas, Belize and Jamaica. An attractive postcard was also developed to target visitors to the region and a poster featuring tips for tourism businesses was also created and disseminated.

Project features

Year: 2017

Total cost of the project: € 618 423

Implementing Agency: Caribbean Tourism Organization

Benefiting Zone: Members of the CTO and borrowing member countries of CDB

Cooperation and technical assistance: Caribbean Development Bank

Funded by: The European Union through the Natural Disaster Risk Management Programme in the CARIFORUM.

Caribbean Tourism: Climate Smart and Sustainable. Download the PDF version

Strengthening the organizational and functional structures of Disaster Risk Management in the Dominican Republic

The main challenges

Due to its geographic location, the Dominican Republic is highly vulnerable to the impact of adverse events triggered by natural hazards or by human intervention. The project entitled ‘Strengthening the organizational and functional structures of Disaster Risk Management in the Dominican Republic’ sought to help reduce vulnerability and exposure to these threats.

Implementing actors and responsibilities

The project was coordinated by the National Emergency Commission and the Directorate-General for Multilateral Cooperation and financed by the European Union. It was carried out through the coordinated effort of the leaders and technicians of over thirteen institutions that participate in the National Emergency Commission.

A comprehensive project executed through more than twenty different actions

Over twenty actions have been carried out to achieve the three expected results of the project. In order to help foster a culture of disaster risk reduction, a national capacity-building plan for disaster risk management was developed for the National School of Risk Management, with a five-year implementation strategy. The project has enabled the execution of forty percent of this Plan, which translates into 30 training courses for over 1000 relevant actors at the local and national level.

Part of the project entailed the creation and launch of the National Integrated Information System (SINI), which aims to organize and leverage data about threats, vulnerabilities and risks in order to gage the capacity for response of institutions charged with managing disasters.

At the regional level, a regional Caribbean meeting welcomed 170 participants from 15 countries to exchange experiences and foster regional connections, collaboration and cooperation.

In order to strengthen resilience and local disaster risk management capabilities at the municipal level, as well as to promote sustainable development in vulnerable areas, an analysis was made of the Prevention, Mitigation and Response Committees, and high-risk human settlements were evaluated and prioritized. Furthermore, seven community networks were created, trained and ratified: 3 in Santiago de los Caballeros; 2 in San Juan de la Maguana and 2 in San Felipe de Puerto Plata.

In coordination with the National School of Risk Management, the Autonomous University of Santo Domingo and the Caribbean University, over 121 evaluators were trained in safety indicators for critical infrastructure. They carried out practical evaluations of vulnerability, security and resilience levels.

An innovative country tool developed to determine security indicators for aqueducts was applied to 20 major aqueducts by simultaneous multidisciplinary teams including geologists, engineers, administrators and technicians from the service providers.

Additionally, in collaboration with the National Office for Siesmic Evaluation and Vulnerabilities of Infrastructure and Buildings, a standard methodology was designed and validated to assess the seismic vulnerability of infrastructure and buildings.

Promising results

Through its various actions and results, the project contributed to the strengthening, awareness, capacity building, equipping and empowerment of the actors involved in disaster risk reduction and of the institutions. This follows the Dominican government’s national policy, centered on territorial security with a sustainable, transformative and inclusive approach, to continue building a stronger and more resilient nation.

Project features

Year: 2014 – 2019

Implementing Agency: National Emergency Commission

Benefiting Zone: Dominican Republic

Funded by: The European Union through the Natural Disaster Risk Management Programme in the CARIFORUM.

Strengthening the organizational and functional structures. Download the PDF version

Flood Early Warning System at Rio Cobre Watershed

The main challenges

Jamaica’s location, geology, hilly topography, narrow coastal plains and dense river network contribute to the island’s vulnerability to flooding. Given the frequency of flash floods, there have been efforts to promote the establishment of community flood early warning systems (FEWS) to reduce damage to property and livelihoods and save lives in the most vulnerable communities. Manually operated community FEWS have been installed on seven rivers, and an automated FEWS was installed on the Rio Cobre in St Catherine Parish. The Rio Cobre has the third largest watershed management unit in Jamaica, covering an estimated drainage area of 646 square kilometres. The flood monitoring and data transmission networks became however inoperable in 2015, because of lightning strikes.

Implementation

The project was designed to help upgrade the FEWS for the Rio Cobre watershed, and to support the delivery of accurate and early notifications to key stakeholder groups and residents to reduce the loss of life and damage caused by flooding.

The Caribbean Development Bank oversaw management of the project, which was executed by the  Jamaica’s Water Resource Authority.

Stream gauge and terrain?? gauge stations were updated and connected to a central server for real-time data transmission. The upgraded system took advantage of solar renewable energy to enable continued data and information during extreme weather events, providing more timely information.

“This timeliness is what actually saves lives,” said Peter Clarke, Managing Director of the Water Resource Authority.

Project features

Year: 2017

Total cost of the project: €305 596

Implementing Agency: Water Resources Authority of Jamaica

Benefiting Zone: St Catherine Parish, Jamaica

Cooperation and technical assistance: Caribbean Development Bank

Funded by: The European Union through the Natural Disaster Risk Management Programme in the CARIFORUM.

Flood Early Warning System at Rio Cobre Watershed. Download the PDF version

The State of the Caribbean Climate Report

Thanks to the “State of the Caribbean Climate (SOCC) Report: Information for Resilience Building” project implemented by the Climate Studies Group Mona of the University of the West Indies (CSGM/UWI), Caribbean stakeholders and other interested groups now have access to a one-stop reference document for climate variability and change in the region to support evidence-based planning, decision-making, and design and implementation of adequate climate change adaptation measures. By providing reliable and updated climate data, information, analysis and references, the SOCC Report should become the premise for actionable recommendations that will support climate proofing at national and regional levels. The Report will help accelerate resilience-building efforts in the Caribbean, specifically within the 19 Borrowing Member Countries (BMCs) of the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB).

A Report well-received in the Region

Throughout the implementation of the project, stakeholder feedback on the SOCC Report has been very positive, confirming that the Report is a valuable resource for the region. It is vital to periodically update the SOCC Report to ensure its continued relevance.

Interactive Climate Smart Workshops

Two Interactive Climate Smart Workshops were delivered on the SOCC Report to equip BMCs stakeholders from climate sensitive sectors such as energy, finance, economic development, health and tourism to (a) effectively use the SOCC Report, and other resources, to assess the impacts of climate change on their sectors, and (b) integrate climate information into planning processes.  The workshops also aimed to facilitate capacity building, knowledge sharing and increased networking, and collaboration opportunities for attendees.  As part of the workshops, a public lecture, “Climate Matters” was delivered. The workshops were conducted from December 12-13, 2019, in Georgetown, Guyana and from February 27-28, 2020, in Nassau, The Bahamas.  The interactive Climate Smart Workshops continue to be one of the good practices and successes of the SOCC Project. Attendees rated the workshop content and presenters as excellent and useful for their individual countries, sectors and work programmes.

Project features

Year: 2017 – 2021

Total cost of the project: € 568 339

Implementing Agency: Climate Studies Group Mona of the University of the West Indies (CSGM/UWI)

Benefiting Zone: 19 Borrowing Member Countries of the CDB

Cooperation and technical assistance:

Funded by: The European Union through the Natural Disaster Risk Management Programme in the CARIFORUM.

The State of the Caribbean Climate Report. Download the PDF version

Climate Smart Workshop 2019

The first Climate Smart Workshop under the “State of the Caribbean Climate 2016: Information for Resilience Building” project was held on December 12-13, 2019 in Georgetown, Guyana. Over 45 Caribbean participants attended, including organizers and representatives from finance, economic development, tourism, health and energy sectors. The workshop sought to facilitate discussions among representatives of climate sensitive sectors on the impacts of climate change on their sectors and how to integrate climate resilience into their planning processes. Overall feedback from participants demonstrated the usefulness of the initiative.

Designing relevant trategies for building resilience to climate change and natural hazards is critical to sustain development outcomes in the region. The Climate Smart initiative, established in collaboration with the University of the West Indies (UWI) and the Caribbean Development Bank, is geared towards creating greater public awareness as well as identifying mitigating and/or preventative strategies to address the challenges associated with disaster risks and impacts.

Expert Presentations

Professor Michael Taylor, Director of Climate Studies Group and Dean of the Faculty of Science and Technology at UWI in Mona, Jamaica, alerted participants to the fact that climate change in the Caribbean has been clearly evident in recent years, as observed through significant change in rainfall patterns and the occurrence more extreme events. Professor Taylor’s analysis further revealed that the entire rainfall routine is changing and sea levels are rising across the entire Caribbean. Increasingly extreme hurricanes, droughts, floods and other natural hazards have had a devastating impact in the region. In addition to the loss of human lives and the destruction of homes and infrastructure, the health, education, agriculture and tourism sectors are also gravely impacted.

Dr. Yves Robert Personna, Project Manager of the ACP-EU NDRM at the Caribbean Development Bank, stated that the CDB has committed to helping its Caribbean member countries to reduce inequality and poverty by 2025. In this context, the CDB has developed and implemented its Climate Resilience Strategy 2012-2017, and raised over USD 410 million to support disaster risk management and climate resilience initiatives in the Region.

Climate Smart Workshop 2019. Download the PDF version