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Earth Today | New experience coming for climate change focal points

Published:Thursday | June 21, 2018 | 12:00 AMPetre Williams-Raynor/Contributing Editor
Damaged buildings and fallen trees litter downtown Marigot, St Martin, after the passing of Hurricane Irma on September 9, 2017, showing the damage that can result from extreme weather events associated with climate change.

IN ITS ongoing efforts to enable climate change mainstreaming across government ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs), the Climate Change Division (CCD) is taking designated representatives - called climate change focal points - into the field.

"We want to strengthen the capacity within the MDAs to look and understand climate impacts. So next week, we have a study tour with the focal points to the Blue and John Crow Mountains to look at the role of the mountain and the forest in supporting climate change resilience," said principal director of the CCD, UnaMay Gordon.

"That kind of thing we are doing to ensure there is joined-up activity, knowledge sharing and collaboration among the agencies, and that we target the interventions so that it serves the work that we do," she added.

The date is June 27 and the trip to the mountain is to be complemented by a follow-on engagement involving both focal points and members of the Climate Change Advisory Board.

"We are having a joint interface. The board is a part of the governance structure. The focal point is part of the framework management of the (climate-resilience) agenda. So we thought it would be a good idea to have them together," Gordon said.

The intention, she explained, is to have them share lessons learnt from the study tour, as well as to discuss developments in the work of the board over the last two years, as well as possible next steps.

The climate change focal point network, comprised of some 27 representatives from across the public service, is tasked to ensure climate change considerations are infused into the planning and operations of each ministry, department and agency of government.

The Climate Change Advisory Board, which took the place of the Climate Change Advisory Committee in 2016, is comprised of some 14 members, drawn from academia, the private sector, civil society, and the public sector, together with two ex-officio members from the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation.

Together, both the focal points and the board are to help to advance the island's resilience agenda, given the reality of climate change impacts that could derail the economy while significantly disrupting social life.

Those impacts include sea level rise and the associated coastal erosion; warmer temperatures and the implications for health, given the likelihood of vector-borne disease prevalence, including for dengue; and more extreme weathers events, the likes of which devastated islands in the Caribbean last hurricane season.