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Small Islands, Big Impact:
Climate Change in the Caribbean
Strategies for getting the message out
4 December 2008
Based on a presentation prepared by CANARI for the Joint Nature Conservation
Committee, UK for the UK Overseas Territories
Presentation outline
• The CANARI climate change programme
and its partners
• What are the key messages?
• How will we be affected?
• How can we respond to the changes?
• How can we disseminate the messages?
CANARI Climate
change programme
• Climate change and biodiversity in the insular Caribbean project
(MacArthur Foundation)
• Series of guidebooks, leaflets and videos on Climate change in
the UK Overseas Territories (Joint Nature Conservation
Committee, UK)
• Capacity building of civil society (Commonwealth Foundation):
– Workshop engaging civil society organisations, the media and
performance artists/drama-in-education practitioners
– Development of a ‘Climate change communications toolkit’ for
community-based organisations
• Design of a public education and outreach project to
address key elements of the Caribbean Regional
Climate Change Adaptation Public Education and
Outreach (PEO) Strategy
Key messages:
Climate change is a
pressing issue
Photo courtesy: NASA & USGS
• There have been natural
and cyclical variations
in the Earth’s climate in
the past, but the current
rate of change is faster
than anything the planet
has experienced before.
Key messages: Climate
change will have profound
effects on our lives
• For the Caribbean region in the 21st century, there
is a fairly high level of certainty that:
• Air and sea temperatures will increase;
• Rainfall will change, with some regions becoming
drier and others wetter;
• Sea level rise will accelerate and be between 0.2 to
• Hurricanes are likely to become more powerful.
Key message: Caribbean
islands have much to lose
• The economies of Caribbean islands depend on a
narrow range of goods or services
• They have high communication and transportation
costs and are vulnerable to natural hazards
• Certain Caribbean ecosystems that are important to
human well-being are identified as “most vulnerable”
Inherent vulnerabilities + climate change =
increased risk
Climate change impacts
in the Caribbean
1. Livelihoods - Tourism
• Impacts on marine and coastal environments will
affect seaside tourism in Caribbean islands
• New carbon taxes and charges will increase air
travel costs
• Greater awareness of the impacts of air travel may
affect tourists’ willingness to come to the Caribbean
• Milder temperatures elsewhere may create attractive
alternative destinations
Climate change impacts
in the Caribbean
2. Food Security
• Increased sea temperature and salt water
intrusion into rivers may substantially affect
fisheries in Caribbean islands.
• Agriculture will be affected by changing growing
seasons, drought and water shortages, and
increased storm intensity
• Northern ‘buy local’ campaigns are altering
patterns of supply and demand.
Climate change impacts
in the Caribbean
3. Infrastructure
• Sea level rise and storms will directly affect critical
infrastructure in the coastal zone such as ports,
airports, houses and businesses.
• Disruption from flooding and infrastructural damage
also affects communications and economic and social
sectors (e.g. tourism, agriculture, health care delivery)
Climate change impacts
in the Caribbean
4. Economic and financial impacts
• Direct costs from damage to infrastructure, human
settlements, crops etc.
• Indirect costs from lost earnings from tourism, fisheries
or loss of ecosystem services.
• Hurricanes can be particularly costly: the damage from
Ivan in Grenada was estimated at 200% of GDP (EC$2.4
Climate Change Impacts
in the Caribbean
5. Coastal and marine resources
Climate Change Impacts
in the Caribbean
5. Coastal and marine resources
Sea level rise will mean:
• coastal flooding
• saltwater contamination of
• coastal erosion compounded by
intensifying hurricanes
• potential loss of wetlands and
mangroves - “coastal squeeze”
Climate Change Impacts
in the Caribbean
5. Coastal and marine resources (cont.)
High temperatures are
causing mass coral
mortality from bleaching
events and diseases
This can be reduced by
better management and
protected areas.
Other Climate Change
Impacts in the Caribbean
6. Water Resources
• Changes in rainfall will affect
water supplies in many countries
• Ground water supplies face
possible threats from
contamination by salt water
7. Health
• Increased risk of vector-borne
diseases, such as dengue
Local management and
climate change adaptation
Management of natural resources and
biodiversity at the regional, national and
community level can reduce the impacts of
climate change.
Reforestation and forest conservation
Watershed management
Treatment of waste water
Control of mosquito habitats
Coastal buffer zones
Protected area management
Local management and
climate change adaptation
Rupert McKenna
Clem McPherson
Speyside Marine Area
Management Project
Key message: Adaptation
is a ‘no regrets’ strategy
with immediate benefits
Adaptation is an opportunity to improve:
• natural resource management and physical planning
• ability to deal with the natural hazards as well as the
growing human-induced stresses on the environment.
• Adaptive responses can be:
Technological (e.g. improving coastal defences)
Managerial (e.g. introducing crop rotation)
Policy-based (e.g. strengthening planning regulations)
Behavioural (e.g. preparing one’s home for a
Meeting Multiple Objectives
though Adaptation
& Sustainable
Key message: Good climate
policy should adapt and mitigate.
• Although Caribbean islands make a small contribution to
global emissions of greenhouse gases, they can play
their part in mitigation by:
– enhancing energy efficiency
– diversifying their energy sources
– increasing reliance on non fossil fuel sources of
– promoting climate friendly technologies
– advocating collectively for the mitigation measures
needed in the major industrialised countries
Collectively small efforts can
make a big difference
• You can make a difference by:
– Reducing personal vulnerability to natural hazards
– Reducing energy use in transportation and in the home
– Practicing good environmental habits e.g. recycling,
– Improving business practices e.g. clean energy, waste
– Advocating for implementation of national adaptation plans and
sustainable development policies
– Advocating for a stronger Caribbean voice in international
– Informing others about climate change and what they can
Creating the ripple effect: building on
Caribbean talent and culture for public
education and outreach
I don’t wanna wash away
I don’t wanna lose another
You can’t make me float
Lose my land and all my
Seas are rising, try to
reach the moon
Beaches splicing, dicing,
Political goons acted just
like fools
My land is gone so soon
Temperature is rising,
competing with the sun
I itch, I burn, I thirst….
Using key change agents
and “champions” as
channels of information
• media;
NGOs and CBOs;
Artists and theatre-in-education professionals;
UNFCC National Focal Points;
communities that are particularly vulnerable to climate
• extension officers (e.g. agriculture, fisheries);
• school teachers
Core public education and
awareness strategies
• Building the cadre of “champions” via facilitated dialogue with
• Developing a community of Artistes Weathering Climate Change
– Region-wide concerts by conscious performance artists
– Developing drama-in-education materials
National climate change workshops
Providing relevant information to the media
Building partnerships between NGOs and the media
Conducting local research, (e.g. Sandwatch)
Collecting traditional knowledge (e.g. Panos)
Video, television, YouTube etc.