Caribbean Tourism: Climate Smart and Sustainable

Origins of the project

Managing the impact of climate change and related hazardous events has been a priority for development work in the Caribbean region 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 became one of the first implementing partners; the programme is a 20 million euro initiative and is dedicated to building the Caribbean’s capacity to prepare for, manage, respond to and recover from the potential impacts of natural hazards.

The National Disaster Risk Management 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 regional tourism, the CTO took steps to build resilience in the tourism sector through their 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 particular project which benefitted thirteen member countries of the CTO and of the Caribbean Development Bank.

Objectives

The project focused on updating the Caribbean Sustainable Policy Framework and incorporating tourism risk management and climate change strategies. It also aimed to mainstream climate resilience into tourism business operations, climate proofing and tourism-related strategies. Other significant elements of the project involved preparing a strategy document and developing 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 first aspect of the Campaign was delivered via CTO’s Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn social media pages, reaching over 300 000 persons who shared, liked, or commented on the 80 visuals that were posted.

The Campaign also included a 7-part video miniseries which was produced and aired on CaribVision Television, reaching another 2.5 million viewers in 23 countries across the region as well as CTO’s YouTube channel.

Capacity building was cited as a critical element which evolved the facilitation of five national training workshops in member countries deemed to be more vulnerable and most 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 – Caribbean Countries

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

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 (EWS) to reduce damage to property and livelihoods and save lives in the most vulnerable communities. Manually operated community EWS have been installed on seven rivers, and an automated EWS 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 were however inoperable since 2015, because of lightning strikes.

Implementation

The project was designed to help upgrade the flood early warning system (EWS) for the Rio Cobre watershed, supporting 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, entrusted to 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 accurate and 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.

Rio Cobre Watershed. Download the PDF version

The State of the Caribbean Climate Report

Thanks to the State of the Caribbean Climate (SOCC) Report, 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 planning and decision-making efforts.

The SOCC Report was prepared to strengthen the strategic planning and decision-making processes that will be required to accelerate resilience-building efforts in the Caribbean, specifically within the 19 Borrowing Member Countries of the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB). By providing significant 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.

A good base for future reports

The production of future updates will now be more easily and quickly accomplished. This has been the case for the State of the Jamaican Climate Report, from which the concept of a State of the Caribbean Climate Report was derived. Throughout the project, stakeholder feedback on the report has been very positive, confirming that the SOCC document is a valuable resource for the region. The production of future updates to the report will be vital to its continued relevance.

Interactive Climate Smart Workshops

The interactive Climate Smart Workshops continue to be one of the good practices and successes of the SOCC Project. The second Climate Smart Workshop was held 27-28 February 2020 in Nassau, Bahamas. The workshop was attended by approximately 26 Caribbean nationals (including workshop organizers and presenters), representing the following sectors: finance/economic development, tourism, health, and energy. While media coverage of the event was eclipsed by increasing focus on COVID-19, participant feedback was very positive. Attendees rated the workshop content and presenters as excellent and useful for their individual countries, sectors and work programmes. As part of the workshop, a public lecture, “Climate Matters”, was held on 27 February 2020.

Project features

Year: 2017 – 2020

Total cost of the project: € 568 339

Implementing Agency: Caribbean Development Bank

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 highlight the major factors that contribute to the occurrence of hazardous events and to identify strategies to build resilience in the region. Overall feedback from participants demonstrated the usefulness of the initiative.

The continuous adaptation of renewed strategies for building resilience in combating hazardous events is critical to realizing successful 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 these challenges.

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 region has been clearly evident in recent years, as observed through significant change in rainfall patterns. Professor Taylor’s analysis further revealed that the entire rainfall routine is changing and sea levels are rising across the entire Caribbean region. Increasingly extreme hurricanes, droughts, floods and other natural disasters 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 Personna, Programme Manager for NDRM at the Caribbean Development Bank, stated that the CDB has a commitment to help its Caribbean member countries to reduce inequality and poverty by 2025. In this context, the CDB has constructed a climate resilience strategic plan which raised some 410 million USD to support disaster risk management and climate resilience interventions in the Caribbean Region.

Climate Smart Workshop 2019. Download the PDF version