OECS Climate Change Project Underway


A landmark Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) initiative focusing on sustainable land management and climate change adaptation achieved its first project milestone earlier last week.

A regional stakeholders workshop signalled the completion of the research component of the Global Climate Change Alliance (GCCA) project. The OECS Gap analysis, which ran from September to the end of November, undertook an assessment of the capacity and resources of the OECS Commission and member states, in terms of the governance and administration of land and land use.

Coming out of the Gap analysis will be recommendations to guide member states in creating the enabling conditions to balance sustainability with national development in the face of climate change and its threats to OECS economies and livelihoods. As such, the GCCA project will assist member states to reform land policies and administration, as well as modernize systems and processes to lessen the impact of climate triggered events on the environmental, social and economic pillars of the respective societies.

A consulting technical team from the University of the West Indies was contracted to undertake the OECS Gap analysis consultancy. Led by environmental and climate change specialist Eleanor Jones, the consulting team presented preliminary findings on the state of play relative to the institutional and regulatory gaps to be addressed. Gaps emerging and common to all member states relate to outdated legislation, insufficient institutional strength, lack of enforcement, improper/ inadequate land use planning, unmonitored developments and poor building practices, deforestation, poor agricultural practices and the absence of a holistic approach to sustainable land management.

Member states’ vulnerability to climatic events such as heavy rainfall, droughts, storms and hurricanes is further exacerbated by these gaps.

Joining a technical team from the Social and Sustainable Development Division of the OECS Commission to receive and discuss the findings were some 18 participants from across the OECS representing ministries with responsibility for physical planning, health, housing and informal human settlement, environment, agriculture, forestry and fisheries, sustainable development and disaster management.

EU funding to the tune of EU$1.9 million is intended to assist the OECS member states to institute the necessary reforms and implement a number of ‘quick win’ projects across member states during this preliminary GCCA implementation phase. An additional EU5 million is earmarked for the implementation of Physical Adaptation Pilot (PAP) projects in each member state.

Some 18 proposals for these projects have been submitted for consideration and funding. Assessment of the PAP proposals fell under the remit of the UWI technical gap analysis team, which was charged to work with agencies to enhance project eligibility for funding within specific terms of reference. PAPs refer to national or community level infrastructure projects which directly address climate-related hazards/risks. The intention is to inspire a climate change adaptation mindset and priority focus, using the PAPs as case studies, and project implementation models for continued mitigation measures at the national level.

The role of participants during the regional workshop included discussion and validation of the findings, endorsement of the recommendations and review of the selected PAP proposals. Participants also contributed to the development of a framework that integrates regional, member state and sectoral priorities; a formula to allocate project funds for the PAPs; and an approach for implementation of all project components.

The next milestone of the gap analysis will be detailed mapping of activities to bridge the Gaps identified and implementation of PAPs. A regional meeting to validate the mapping exercise will be convened in February and the final technical report will be submitted by the end of the first quarter of 2015.

The year 2018 is the intended cut-off date for implementation of the GCCA climate change adaptation and sustainable land management project in the Eastern Caribbean.

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