Sat | Sep 22, 2018

Earth Today | Don’t underestimate ‘small’ climate impacts - UWI scientist

Published:Thursday | January 25, 2018 | 12:00 AM
From left: Dr David Smith, coordinator for the Institute for Sustainable Development (ISD), with Dr Barbara Carby, director of the Disaster Risk Redution Centre at the ISD, and head of the Institute for Gender and Development Studies, Dr Leith Dunn. They were at the EKACDM workshop, held in Kingston this week.

SMALL ISLAND developing states (SIDS) were cautioned this week to recognise the threat of seemingly small climate-change impacts such as sudden or sustained rain events, even as they prepare to contend with larger events, including extreme hurricanes.

"We worry about disasters like the Haiti earthquake ... or look at what happens with the Category 5 hurricanes in the region last year. A large storm hitting our countries can create up to a year's damage or more ... We should also be worried about less spectacular events," said Dr David Smith, coordinator of the Institute for Sustainable Development at the University of the West Indies.

He was addressing more than 20 participants from nine islands at the opening ceremony of a two-day workshop, titled 'Mainstreaming Gender Sensitive Strategies, Manuals and Policy Guidelines in Comprehensive Disaster Management (CDM) for the Caribbean', on Tuesday.

"(With) repeated small events ... a tropical storm ... it raining every day since September as it has been doing in Jamaica ... what you have is a continual eroding of the progress we want to make," Smith said.

With islands like Jamaica and Fiji losing a significant amount of their gross domestic product to climate impacts, he said that climate resilience building was more important now than ever to enable a stronger response to climate change and its impacts.

The workshop forms a part of a series of wrap-up activities under the Enhancing Knowledge and Application of Comprehensive Disaster Management (EKACDM) Initiative, a five-year project funded by Global Affairs Canada.

The EKACDM Initiative is aimed at establishing an effective mechanism for managing and sharing knowledge in comprehensive disaster management, able to be used by various stakeholders across the Caribbean.

It also supports the implementation of the regional Comprehensive Disaster Management (CDM) Framework 2014-2024 of the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency and will help to support training for the public and private sectors, and civil society groups.