German-Caribbean cooperation on climate change entering critical phase
The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the German government are supporting the efforts of eight CARICOM member states to adapt the management of their natural resources and economies to the ever-pressing and far-reaching socio-economic and environmental impacts of climate change.
In an effort to strengthen the national capacities to mitigate the adverse effects of an altering changing climate, which inevitably impacts small islands and low-lying coastal states the most, the key objectives of the joint CARICOM-German government support are two-fold: (i) to conserve the unique marine biodiversity of the Caribbean Sea, and (ii) to foster the development and adoption of good practices and adaptive measures in agriculture, forestry, and water/wastewater management.
The main target groups include governmental and non-governmental organizations, national farmers and fisherfolk organizations, the tourism industry, water utilities and small and medium sized businesses.
To deliver on the CARICOM-German government partnership, the regional development programme titled Caribbean Aqua-Terrestrial Solutions (CATS) was formulated. The CATS Programme, headed by Dr Horst Vogel (GIZ), operates through a marine component, namely CATS-2, which focuses on the conservation of the marine biodiversity and coastal protection, and a terrestrial component, CATS-1, which leads all projects related to adaptive measures in agriculture, forestry, and water/wastewater management.
The CATS programme is executed by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH on behalf of the German federal ministry for economic cooperation and development (BMZ) and by the Environmental Health and Sustainable Development Department of the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) on behalf of CARICOM.
CATS adopts a ‘ridge-to-reef’ approach that follows many of the lessons learnt and approaches from the GEF-funded integrating watershed and coastal areas management (GEF-IWCAM) project — guided by a deep understanding that agricultural, forestry and water/wastewater management operations upstream exert a direct influence on coastal and marine ecosystems.
CATS-2 focuses on marine protected areas (MPAs) in five Eastern Caribbean countries, namely, Dominica, Grenada, St Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, and St Vincent and the Grenadines. Hence, in keeping with the integrated watershed and coastal areas management ‘ridge-to-reef’ approach, CATS-1 centres its activities on the watersheds upstream, adjacent to the respective MPAs.
Additionally, CATS-1 supports adaptive measures in agriculture, forestry, and water management in Jamaica, Belize and Guyana. Between April and June 2014, CATS-1’s principal advisor, Eva Maria Näher (GIZ), organised and conducted two-day planning workshops with various stakeholders from the agricultural, water and forestry sectors in the five CARICOM member states of Dominica, Grenada, Jamaica, Saint Lucia, and St Vincent and the Grenadines. The aim was to identify priorities with regard to adaptation measures to climate change in agriculture and forestry and to formulate an operational plan for each country.
As part of the two-day workshops, the stakeholders participated in field visits to the MPAs and adjacent watersheds for on-the-spot discussions on the linkages between agricultural and other land use activities, and the adverse effects of land degradation and water pollution into the coastal areas. All projects and activities developed will be undertaken in a practical and hands-on manner and collaboratively by farmers groups located in respective watersheds, while being actively supported by dedicated national liaison officers and project implementation teams.
The main activities identified by stakeholders in the countries include (i) training to improve capacities and the development of demonstration plots for good agricultural practices, (ii) establishment of agroforestry-systems, (iii) reforestation of degraded areas, (iv) implementation of water conservation measures (including rainwater harvesting and storage techniques), and (v) land capability assessments to inform land use optimization and (vi) investments in alternative livelihood solutions.
To complement the national planning workshops and foster collaboration among key regional agencies concerned with agriculture, forestry, water and rural development, a focus-group regional agency meeting was held on July 10 at CARPHA’s headquarters in Trinidad.
Participating agencies included the Caribbean Farmers Network (CAFAN), the Caribbean Natural Resources Institute (CANARI), the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI), the Caribbean Institute for Meteorology and Hydrology (CIMH), the Global Water Partnership-Caribbean (GWP-C), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the Inter- American Institute for the Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), and the University of the West Indies (UWI).
The objective of this focus-group meeting was to exchange experiences and expertise in the field and to assess prospective partnership opportunities with the CATS Programme. CATS-1 is aiming to foster strong partnerships and generate valuable synergies between stakeholders whose livelihoods depend on the conservation and sustainable use of fragile and vulnerable marine and terrestrial resources and ecosystems, and the organisations both at the national and regional level that provide support in this regard.
In short, it is a joint endeavour to develop, implement, and share best practices to support agricultural diversification and improved management of forests and water resources to support sustainable and prosperous agricultural and rural development, while conserving the Caribbean’s precious natural resources by maintaining healthy environments and healthy peoples.