Tuesday, September 26, 2017
Tuesday, September 26, 2017
A timely event given the passage of recent hurricanes Irma, Maria, and Matthew in 2016 and Joaquin 2015, the forum has assembled leading scientists, technical experts and policymakers from nine Caribbean countries to participate in the two-day conclave being held at The Island House near Lyford Cay.
IDB Caribbean manager, Bahamian-born Theresa Turner Jones said the organization stands ready to provide whatever support it could to the region.
“The bank has decided to double the volume of climate-related financing by 2020,” she said. “This doubling would lead to a level of climate lending averaging between 25 to 35 per cent of the bank’s total approval by 2020.”
To place that in perspective, IDB and the Inter-American Investment Corporation (IIC) approved a total of 241 financing operations for $11.7 billion during 2016 for projects in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Turner Jones says the move reflects the bank’s understanding of the region’s vulnerability and the urgency to not only recover from natural hazards but, more importantly, to adapt and build resilience.
“These issues are not going away,” said Turner Jones. “They are becoming more and more serious.”
Representatives from Belize, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago and The Bahamas are attending the conference.
Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis said this nation stands in solidarity with the region during this time “of great despair.”
The Bahamas has its own challenges.
Irma caused damages of catastrophic proportions to public and private infrastructure on Ragged Island. Irma also severely impacted Crooked Island, Acklins, Inagua and to a lesser extent, Grand Bahama.
Less than a year ago, all of the islands were touched by Hurricane Matthew and, in 2015 Joaquin, ravaged the southern islands of The Bahamas.
“We see an unfortunate trend: more powerful storms with greater frequency and other extreme weather events,” said Minnis.
He noted the nation could no longer continue to rebuild in the same manner. The country might have to consider “no-build” zones, he told delegates.
“Damage to this coastal environment has been devastating and has long-term consequences for the economy and population.”
The Prime Minister said it was critical to invest in proper planning. He said The Bahamas was committed to fully implementing a coastal zone management plan within the short-term. Work in that area commenced over a decade ago.
He said his government is also committed to strengthening the operations of The Bahamas national Geographic Information System (GIS) framework to improve the quality of coastal mapping data and capacity for this work.
GIS technology is designed to capture, store, manipulate, analyze, manage and present all types of geographical data.
This year The Bahamas completed a project on an eco-system service-based development plan for Andros, the nation’s largest land mass and among the top 10 largest island in the Caribbean.
“As a result of this work we better understand the economic values of our coastal environment and the tradeoffs and long-term implications of coastal development,” he said.
As an extension of this project, an online tool called The Bahamas Hazard Viewer was created.
It enables decision-makers to quickly identify areas in the archipelago where people and property are most vulnerable to coastal hazards due to factors such as elevation and the presence of intact mangroves and seagrass beds, or lack thereof.
This knowledge is expected to lead to better planning for national development in the most sustainable and smart manner, the Prime Minister said.
The forum concludes tomorrow.