Caribbean stakeholders move to ready water sector for climate change
Faced with the prospect of the dried-up or otherwise compromised water resources because of climate change, Caribbean stakeholders are taking action to bolster the sector.
As part of that effort, the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (5Cs) and the Global Water Partnership-Caribbean (GWP-C) last month launched the 'Climate-Proofing Water Investment in the Caribbean' initiative.
Funded through the Climate and Development Knowledge Network, the effort forms a part of the Water, Climate and Development Programme for the region, which is being implemented by the two entities.
According to the GWP-C, elements of the initiative include a Climate Resilience and Water Security Investment Plan "which will provide a coordinating mechanism for identifying water security priorities and facilitating their implementation". It is also to see the identification and screening of pilot projects that can be taken forward for climate proofing.
"The overall purpose of the initiative is to mainstream climate-compatible development (CCD) into core decision-making and implementation within the Caribbean water sector," the GWP-C said in response to Gleaner queries.
To that end, the initiative has been developed to address some specific "high-priority needs" across the region, notably:
n Increased coordination among regional agencies working on water issues leading to a regional portfolio of prioritised, targeted interventions for CCD in the water sector;
n More effective leveraging of domestic and international sources of finance, including specialist climate change finance; and
n Practical examples of how planned projects can be climate-proofed, including the business case for climate proofing and accessing funds to take projects forward for implementation.
"The investment plan will be built around the broad regional priorities for water security, coordinating across the various regional agencies working on water issues. Detailed national needs will feed up into the investment plan through the regional priorities," the GWP-C explained.
Funding and finance
"The plan will provide a mechanism facilitating access to finance for investments in regional and national programmes for water security. The development of the investment plan will involve stakeholder engagement across a wide range of agencies working on water issues and agencies involved in channelling funding and finance," it added.
Once completed, implementation of actions in the investment plan and its periodic revision will be ongoing, with support from the GWP-C and the 5Cs.
"Overall, the project proposes to support the identification and prioritisation of investment opportunities and costs, the outlining of key institutional arrangements and the identification of suitable funding sources," the GWP-C noted.
"The project's overarching purpose is to highlight and seek to create the necessary enabling conditions for the development of fundable initiatives in the water sector that demonstrate the incorporation of risk, resilience and low-carbon innovations," it added.
Meanwhile, a Caribbean Development Bank study, made public at the Caribbean Water and Wastewater Association Conference and Exhibition in the Bahamas last October, revealed that climate impacts on water include:
n A decrease in precipitation (less rainfall);
n Substantially drier wet seasons; and
n Drier and longer dry seasons.
The impacts, as detailed by David Boyce of Cole Engineering International, who worked on the study, also extend to salt water intrusion that poses a threat to coastal aquifers; and higher rates of evapotranspiration (water loss from earth into the atmosphere).
"The Caribbean has to get more aggressive in addressing these challenges," Boyce advised at the time, adding that a critical area in need of financing was infrastructure.
There is, too, he said, the need for documentation that distinguishes the water financing needs of the Caribbean from elsewhere.