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Earth Today | Islands in need of institutional strengthening for climate readiness

Published:Thursday | July 25, 2019 | 12:00 AM
Institutional strengthening is being prescribed for two islands of the Caribbean in the interest of their fisheries sector.

Institutional readiness as essential to climate change resilience building has been brought back on the front burner, courtesy of recent research work by the Caribbean Natural Resources Institute (CANARI).

The study focused in particular on the fisheries sectors of the United Kingdom Overseas Territories of Anguilla and Montserrat, which are “highly vulnerable” to climate variability and change.

“Typically, when we think of climate change adaptation, we focus on ecological measures, such as restoring the health of coral reef or mangrove ecosystems that support fisheries; or socio-economic measures, such as introducing alternative livelihoods, like aquaculture. Less often do we think of our ‘institutional readiness’ to undertake these adaptation actions,” CANARI said, in justifying the focus of the study.

Institutional readiness, as defined by the organisation, addresses the policies and plans, processes, mechanisms and resources that are in place to facilitate key functions for climate change adaptation.

“These functions include assessing the impacts of climate change, coordinating stakeholders and mobilising finance to implement actions within the fisheries sector. Institutional readiness is, therefore, the foundation of effective adaptation planning. Without this foundation, adaptation would be ad hoc and likely not make the best use of limited resources or have strategic impact,” the entity added in its report.

The study found that improvements are required for institutional strengthening in order to shore up the fisheries sector in both islands where, while small-scale, it contribute significantly to their respective economies.

In Anguilla, for example, CANARI found that there exists the risk of the island not benefiting from previous lessons learned, as there is no inventory of past and ongoing adaptation actions for the sector, despite multisectoral national assessments having been done to highlight vulnerabilities.

The study, which relied on desk reviews and interviews with key stakeholders, together with the World Resources Institutes’s Adaptation: Rapid Institutional Analysis toolkit, also found challenges with accessing information on the process for the prioritisation of adaptation financing for the sector, as well as information to inform “evidence-based and ecosystem-based approach to adaptation”.

Similar challenges were found in Montserrat. Among other things, the study described as “ad hoc” adaptation efforts for the fisheries sector. This is given that “effective integration of climate change adaptation and disaster risk management in the fisheries sector is limited by the absence of a formal National Fisheries Policy or Fisheries Management Plan and a formal National Ocean Governance Management Plan to provide strategic guidance”.

Among the key actions prescribed by CANARI to enhance institutional readiness in the two islands are:

- The finalisation and formal adoption of Anguilla’s Climate Change Policy to provide overarching guidance for climate change adaptation and mitigation;

- The adoption and implementation of Montserrat’s Climate Policy and Action Plan and the establishment of the National Climate Change Council, in keeping with its recommendation to improve coordination and mobilise resources for adaptation; and

- Improvement in institutional collaboration among stakeholders involved in fisheries management to build resilience, including the establishment of a Fisheries Advisory Committee in Anguilla.

The study also recommended the formalistaion of Oceans Governance Committee and development of a National Ocean Governance Management Plan, including the adoption of an ecosystem-based approach that integrates climate change adaptation, disaster risk management and sustainable fisheries management in Montserrat.