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THE CARIBBEAN
Plans to address climate change
Latinamerica Press
5/16/2017
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Caribbean nations design systems and strategies to minimize adverse effects of climate change.

The recovery of coral gardens and the repopulation of ocean areas undermined by overfishing are some of the strategies that were implemented a decade ago by Caribbean scientists to tackle climate change.

In order to survive, the Caribbean Islands depend on a marine ecosystem that according to forecasts is going to be negatively affected by a rise in the intensity of hurricanes and droughts, the rise of the sea level, and coral bleaching.

In its 5th report, released in 2014, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reported that “many terrestrial, freshwater and marine species have shifted their geographical ranges, seasonal activities, mitigation patterns, abundances and species interactions in response to ongoing climate change,” patterns that have been observed in the Caribbean.

The Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM), counting with the participation of Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Montserrat, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, and Turks and Caicos Islands, are now completing a Climate Report Card, to be published at the end of this year, which will include strategies to minimize the adverse effects of climate change on the fishing sector, which is a key aspect to the economy of these nations.

Among other aspects included in the document are ocean acidification, extreme climatic events, the rise of the sea level and temperature, and the role played by civil society in relation to fishing, tourism and human settlements.

According to the Living Planet 2016, published by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the population of marine species decreased by 36 percent between 1970 and 2012 due to overexploitation, and the loss and degradation of marine habitats.

In The Caribbean, communities that depend on fishing for their food and livelihood are at risk because of fish catch reduction. In fact, the economy of many Caribbean nations would be devastated if this trend were to continue.

Life Task
Cuba, meanwhile, approved the State Plan to Address Climate Change on Apr. 25. According to the Minister of Science, Technology and the Environment, Elba Rosa Pérez, is “a proposal of how to move forward in concrete actions to contribute in minimizing the impact of this phenomenon.”

Climate change, said Pérez, “has been worsening and will continue to aggravate environmental problems, and become a determining factor of sustainable development.”

Scientific studies have ratified the temperature rise in the island, the important variability in cyclonic activity, change in rain patterns, increase in the frequency and duration of droughts, and the rise in sea level that has accelerated in the past five years.

The preservation of people’s lives, food security, and development of tourism have been some of the aspects included in the plan — also known as Life Task — to prioritize three vulnerable geographical areas, and it also includes measures to “counteract the impacts” in those areas, such as “not allowing the construction of new housing in coastal settlements and reducing agricultural areas close to the coast or those damaged by marine intrusion into underground aquifers,” said Pérez.

The greatest dangers are coastal flooding caused by rising sea levels and wave surges as a consequence of hurricanes, cold fronts, and other extreme meteorological events due to their effects on the natural heritage and on the infrastructure.

Among the 11 tasks established by Life Task are: the availability and efficient water use to face droughts; guide reforestation to obtain maximum protection of the ground and waters; stop the erosion of coral reefs, regenerate and conserve them; and implement programs, plans and projects tied to renewable energy, energy efficiency, food security, health and tourism. —Latinamerica Press.


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