Grenada moves closer to making St. George a Climate Smart City

Grenada is on the hunt for millions of dollars to provide hundreds of jobs for its people through an initiative known as the Green Climate Fund Project, according to Minister of Climate Resilience, Senator Simon Stiell.

Speaking to reporters at a recently held post-Cabinet Press Briefing at the Conference Room in the Ministerial Complex at the Botanical Gardens, Sen. Stiell said that as it currently stands, the island is only at the pre-feasibility stage in gathering data on nine identified project areas to seek funding from the project.

He identified as one of the key projects the desire to make St. George the first Climate Smart City in the region under the Climate Fund initiative.

The minister announced that several donor organisations will be approached to try and get funding for the projects.

“We don’t have the local resources to fund these (projects), which is why we are working so closely with institutions such as the Green Climate Fund, who have financing facilities available to provide us with significant grant support for those projects which we can demonstrate the climate change rationale and concessionary loans together with other agencies,” he said.

Once those projects get started, Minister Stiell stated that there will be significant economic benefits for the country.

He said: “What we should be able to do is to turn what is a threat, which is climate change into a massive opportunity for us. Take one project concept, which is to protect the Carenage and what we’re looking at is coming from around by the Cruise Ship Terminal, around the Carenage, going around the Lagoon in terms of building some kind of sea defense against sea level rise. That project alone, they have looked at just preliminary estimates, the value of that is somewhere in the region of 75 million US$, just preliminary estimates –these will create significant construction opportunities.

“This is hard engineering and what we would see is massive opportunities for our local contractors, for our local tradesmen and women. You look at some of the other interventions – road widening, road strengthening, the creation of new roads –significant jobs – so what we would see out of this is what we are calling green jobs. This is a whole new enterprise for Grenadians for providing services, for providing labour for climate related initiatives and then you look at the economic impact of that, not only in terms of the creation of job opportunities but you look at the impact that it will have on our GDP”, he added.

According to Sen. Stiell, the work to be undertaken on the Carenage is considered as critical since the area has been identified by a New York University (NYU) team of engineers and specialists as a project to be carried out eventually as the area could suffer from high sea level rise and major flooding.

He spoke of the experts including NASA Scientists utilising high end equipment to provide interpretation data and modeling for the Carenage project with the years 2050 and up to 2080 in mind.

Sen. Stiell said: “We’re seeing within the 2050 model, a sea level rise of over 5 feet and then at 2080, in excess of 7 feet. So, all areas that are at sea level such as the Carenage, such as Grand Anse, such as Soubise, just to name a few of the areas they’re focused on in the project, we can see just how vulnerable those areas are.

“…The Carenage is seen as a priority area. We see it as early as 2021 – within the next three years, regular high water flooding. So, whether this is from excessive rainfall, we’ve already seen areas such as Tanteen etc, which are flooded very easily under high rainfall conditions in terms of sea surges, we’re going to see an increase frequency of events there.

“The (St. George’s) Port certainly by 2050 again – high level of vulnerability together with Grand Anse – so they’re starting to draw out the specific data that will speak to the solutions that are required for that.

Sen. Stiell identified some of the risk areas around Grenada that will be looked to address under the Green Climate Fund.

“There is a southern corridor between the town of St. George and the Airport. Again the sections of that are highly vulnerable to climate change. So, whether it is looking at widening the road, defending that corridor but linking that to another component which is an Urban Development Plan and looking at issues such as traffic congestion, transportation within the area. So, looking at interventions that will include road widening and the creation of alternative routes to alleviate traffic and increase traffic flow and efficiency – a top priority for all of us”, he said.

Sen. Stiell disclosed that the Maurice Bishop International Airport (MBIA) is known to be under sea level and some parts of the runway “are vulnerable to sea level rise and ingress from the sea” and has to be addressed as a vulnerable area.

He said that the plan of action also takes in St. George’s University (SGU) which constitutes 20% of the island’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and seen as “an important economic engine for us”.

He added that government will be working along with the university to see how “we can build greater resilience in their operations, to ensure in the event of a severe weather event, they can recover as quickly as possible”.

The senior government minister cited the tackling of sewage in the south and interventions to combat sea level rise in the poor and rural community of Soubise in St. Andrew as two other projects to be tackled under the Climate fund initiative.

Sen. Stiell also spoke about an Urban Development Plan in the making to identify priority roads where interventions are needed “in order to alleviate some of our traffic congestion issues and in doing so, speak to reducing our Green Houses Gas emissions, which is a critical part of the process”.

He said that this will focus on short, medium and long term road expansion work from the town of St. George and expanding on the eastern side of the island.

The minister admitted that concerns are being raised in some quarters about the projects identified by Grenada as priority.

He said: “We’ve been told on many occasions that what we are trying to achieve with this project is far too ambitious and unrealistic and the response that we continue to give is with the extreme threat that climate change presents us with and we are already seeing the negative impacts of that, we can do nothing but come up with ambitious plans to address it.

“We have no choice and the data is showing us the need for fast action on these projects – that the challenge for us isn’t going to be in collecting data, isn’t going to be in developing the solutions, it’s going to be in how do we finance these projects,” he added.

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