Representatives of government and non-governmental organizations met last Thursday and Friday in a seminar setting to brainstorm on what the country can do to better adapt to climate change.
The two-day seminar also equipped representatives of civil society with skills in project writing.
This formed part of the formal launch of Dominica’s participation in the Small Island Developing States Community Based Adaptation Project (SIDS CBA).
Minister for the Environment Hon. Dr. Kenneth Darroux fully endorsed the SIDS CBA initiative.
The minister expressed gratitude to the United Nations Development Programme and the GEF Small Grants Programme in coming forward to assisting Dominica in its fight against climate change.
“I would like to recognize in a very special way the efforts of agencies such as the GEF Small Grants Programme for continuing to partner with the local authorities and community based organizations in projects that touch the lives of the everyday man and woman in visible and tangible ways and I want to applaud GEF for this. Whilst multilateral negotiations on critical issues such as climate change and sustainable development continue to be an international fiasco, institutions such as yours continue to demonstrate in very pragmatic ways how it can be done and again I applaud you.”
Dominica’s Environment Minister is hoping that the international community will take a page from the book of these organizations and come forward in assisting small island developing states to addressing the impacts of climate change.
The minister challenged community groups to take advantage of the SIDS CBA initiative.
“I would like to challenge other individuals, communities and groups to take advantage of these programmes that are available, to come on board and to develop projects and initiatives in their respective communities to ensure the continued sustainable development of our beautiful country, Dominica. We acknowledge that the government cannot do everything on its own and each and every one of us must be seized with the idea that we were blessed with a land rich in natural resources and each and every one of us must play a part in the sustainable development plans.”
Director of the Environmental Coordinating Unit (ECU) Lloyd Pascal highlighted approaches being taken locally to address issues of climate change.
“Adapting to climate change would mean that we would have to find better ways to manage our coastal areas because that is where we have found out that most of the damage coming out of climate change comes, which is in the form of sea level rising, sea surges, hurricane and a lot of beaches, roads and infrastructure being eroded.”
Pascal further stated that due to Dominica’s unique landscape, most, if not all communities are located on the coast while Dominica’s water and mountains can be found on its interior and he says, this is something that must be given attention.
Pascal noted that the involvement of all community based organizations is imperative if climate change issues are to be adequately addressed.
The government of Dominica is a member of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and has been adhering to a number of international obligations as it relates to climate change.
The Head of the Environmental Coordinating Unit (ECU) says last week’s seminar was designed to empower vulnerable communities to address climate change adaptation.
“We are doing what we are committed to under the convention and one of those things is to ensure that the public is aware. We prepare our country and people in joining the world effort to combat climate change. We are very pleased to note that some of the things we have been able to accomplish, have been done as a member of that important international body. We have been able to do our initial national communication which is a report on how Dominica is implementing the convention to send to the head quarters. We’ve done a second phase of that initial communication and we have done our second national communication.”
The seminar on addressing climate change was organized by the government of Dominica in collaboration with the GEF Small Grants Programme, The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Australian Government.
These organizations will empower local communities to access grants and technical support available through the GEF Small Grants Programme to reduce their vulnerabilities and to increase their adaptive capacity to manage the additional risk presented by climate change.
Programme Manager of the Environment Energy and Climate Change Office at the UNDP Ricky Wilson disclosed that funds allocated to Dominica will be targeted at coastal communities.
“I have been informed that the first phase of the CBA will target a series of coastal villages and communities because they have been identified because they have seen the impacts of intense rain causing landslides. They have witnessed and experienced hurricanes, flooding and also the impacts of food security. UNDP as an agency is always keen to see coordinated action among development partners in the countries of this region and we look forward to the outputs of this activity.”
The Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre which is responsible for coordinating the region’s response to climate change is assisting Dominica in putting to work its adaptation options with regard to managing climate change.