Dr. Becker and Bobby Witkop (MAMA 2018) attend workshops on “Climate change impacts on coastal transport infrastructure in the Caribbean: Enhancing the adaptive capacity of Small Island Developing States (SIDS)”

In June, Dr. Becker participated in a UN Development Account project on “Climate change impacts on coastal transport infrastructure in the Caribbean: Enhancing the adaptive capacity of Small Island Developing States (SIDS)”, which is being implemented by UNCTAD and also benefits from collaboration with UNEP, UNECLAC and UNDP. He spent three days in St. Lucia and three days in Jamaica. MAF Masters student Bobby Witkop (S 2018) joined the team for the Jamaica session.

The project aims to strengthen the capacity of policy makers, transport planners and transport infrastructure managers in SIDS to (a) understand climate change impacts on coastal transport infrastructure – in particular seaports and airports – and (b) take appropriate adaptation response measures. As part of the project, case-studies focusing on two vulnerable SIDS in the Caribbean region, namely Jamaica and St. Lucia, were carried out to enhance the knowledge and understanding at the national level and to develop a transferable methodology for assessing climate-related impacts and adaptation options. The project also envisages capacity-building workshops for stakeholders at the national and regional level.

Training and presentations were provided by the UNCTAD project team, international and national consultants, as well as some invited experts who have also agreed to act as resource persons throughout. The workshop format allowed participants to discuss opportunities and barriers to adopting climate-resilient practices in both countries. Discussion focused primarily on the desire to have additional trainings and on the lack of data available for analysis. Participants from the Meteorological Office and the Airport Service indicated that they were concerned about the climate change issues discussed, but unless more specific information were available, it would be difficult for them to take any real actions. They cited local sea level rise projections, high-resolution elevation and bathymetery, and more accurate hurricane predictions as pressing needs. In Jamaica, participants representing the two major airports, the container terminal, and the cruise ship terminal, along with government and academic representatives conducted a “sensitivity thresholds” exercise for these facilities. Jamaica has devoted considerable resources to adaptation planning, with broad guidance issued by the national government that includes emphasis on the importance of building resilience for transport infrastructure. Environmental managers, engineers, and managers detailed specific areas of concern and a strong desire to develop and implement resilience strategies.