Partners Launch a New Program to Build Regional Climate Capacity in the Caribbean

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is launching a new program to build regional capacity for climate change adaptation in the Eastern Caribbean, in partnership with the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the Caribbean Institute for Meteorology and Hydrology (CIMH). A launch ceremony will be held at CIMH in St. James, Barbados, on March 27 at 3pm. Remarks will be given by U.S. Ambassador Larry Palmer, WMO Chief Wayne Elliott and CIMH Principal David Farrell. A photo opportunity and press briefing will follow. Approximately forty attendees are expected, including members of the press and local stakeholders.

The impacts of climate change pose a serious threat to the Caribbean region. These impacts include changing weather and precipitation patterns, more frequent and intense storms, greater flooding and drought, sea level rise that is accelerating coastal erosion, saltwater intrusion to coastal aquifers that threatens freshwater supplies, and increased air and sea surface temperatures that influence hurricane severity. These impacts are projected to worsen in the coming years, threatening infrastructure, economic activity, agricultural productivity, coastal ecosystems and reefs, fisheries, and community livelihoods and well-being.

The impacts of climate change pose a serious threat to the Caribbean region. These impacts include changing weather and precipitation patterns, more frequent and intense storms, greater flooding and drought, sea level rise that is accelerating coastal erosion, saltwater intrusion to coastal aquifers that threatens freshwater supplies, and increased air and sea surface temperatures that influence hurricane severity. These impacts are projected to worsen in the coming years, threatening infrastructure, economic activity, agricultural productivity, coastal ecosystems and reefs, fisheries, and community livelihoods and well-being.

In September 2013, USAID conducted a rapid climate change analysis for the Eastern Caribbean region that identified climate change vulnerabilities and priority constraints to effective adaptation. Among the top constraints is the lack of accurate and consistent climate data and information in the region to understand climate changes, predict impacts, and respond strategically at local, national and regional levels.

To address this constraint, USAID signed an agreement with the World Meteorological Organization in January 2014, in partnership with the Caribbean Institute for Meteorology and Hydrology to (1) establish a Regional Climate Center for the Caribbean, housed at CIMH and capable of providing tailored climate and weather services to support adaptation and enhanced disaster risk reduction region-wide; (2) improve climate and weather data collection regionally to fill critical information, monitoring and forecasting gaps; (3) establish a Caribbean Environmental and Climate Computational Center to provide CIMH, regional scientists and end-users with needed resources to better understand and predict climate impacts; and (4) build critical capacities at regional and national levels to access, analyze and use climate data to better inform decision-making in climate sensitive sectors.

Under this agreement, USAID will provide $5.085 million (USD) over the next three years to the WMO, which will work in partnership with CIMH to achieve the agreement’s objectives.

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