New bulletins developed for climate sensitive sectors in the Caribbean

The Barbados-based Caribbean Institute for Meteorology and Hydrology (CIMH) has announced plans to launch a new climate services product in time for 2017 wet/rain season in an effort to better assist stakeholders within the four identified climate sensitive sectors in Grenada and other Caribbean islands to effectively prepare for the challenges associated with climate change and climate variability.

 CIMH Principal Dr. David Farrell

CIMH Principal Dr. David Farrell

The newly developed climate service bulletins will be tailored specifically for the water, health and tourism sectors, with work ongoing to enhance the already existing agro-bulletin called the Caribbean Agro-net Initiative for the agriculture sector in a more detailed manner that is easy to understand.

The bulletins, which are intended for release on a quarterly basis, was one of the focal points discussed during a two-day dry season CariCOF conference held at the Grenadian by Rex Resort last week Monday and Tuesday.

The conference provided an opportunity for the bulletins, which are currently in the drafting stage to be tested and for Meteorologists from Grenada and across the region to identify the barriers and enablers to the production of climate information in the climate sensitive sectors of Caribbean.

In an interview with THE NEW TODAY newspaper last week Tuesday, CIMH Research Associate, Shelly-Ann Cox said the idea behind creating the sector specific bulletins came from the realisation that “there is a little disconnect” between the messages communicated to the stakeholders during the 2012 CariCOF, which focused on supply and demand, what the users really want and the capacity of the net services to actually meet their needs.

She noted that CIMH “usually produce information that is generic and climate, (acknowledging that) the messages are very scientific and the stakeholders do not understand.”

However, she said with the “feedback from the various sector representatives themselves, the sector specific bulletins will speak the language of the sectors.”

Cox described the discussions held with the various stakeholders as “very good and insightful,” and expressed gratitude for the feedback received.

CIMH Research Associate Shelly-Ann Cox

CIMH Research Associate Shelly-Ann Cox

“What we would do is take these feedback and use them in the revision of the bulletins before we test them again,” she said, adding that there is a “research framework” in which these testings are taking place.

“So we are looking at risk communication and the perceptions of the people and the messages they hear and how they take these messages and implement them into their sector,” she told this newspaper.

The female CIMH Research official pointed out that “we are now at the zero order draft (stage) for the tourism and health bulletins and at the first draft for the water bulletin and we thought it would be good to test it now at the beginning of the dry season”.

She stressed that the first testing of the bulletins was done in time for the wet season CariCOF held in Dominica in May.

Cox said the intention is to “share the bulletins with policymakers and maybe hoteliers,” but the organisation is required to “take the messages out of the bulletins and put them in their own existing newsletters and so on”.

“So hoteliers are free to pull out certain information for their guests maybe alerting them of higher than normal temperatures or perhaps tell the water sports operators that the sea levels would be higher than normal” or otherwise, she explained.

CIMH Principal figure, Dr. David Farrell stated that the tourism sector is still not recognised on the global market as a climate sensitive sector.

However, he said that in the Caribbean region “we recognise that tourism is also climate sensitive and the primary earner in a lot of countries and so we naturally added tourism onto the list of climate sensitive sectors that we are going to address within the Caribbean region (even though) at the global level it is still not recognised as a climate sensitive sector that is integrated within the global framework for climate services”.

“…The WMO (World Meteorology Organisation)has recognised the initiative of the Caribbean region in moving tourism forward as a climate sensitive sector as they continue to monitor the progress at work in the region and we have formed a partnership with the Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO) and Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) to reflect that,” Dr Farrell added.

The CIMH is optimistic that it can officially launch the climate sector bulletins at the project close out meeting for the Building Regional Climate Capacity in the Caribbean (BRCCC) programme around May/June 2017, to coincide with the next wet season of CariCOF.

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