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Assessing coastal risk

Christel Saab of the IDB in discussion with Senior Environmental Officer Travis Sinckler

Barbados’ legislation, regulations, policies, strategies and action plans related to integrated coastal management will be under review during the five-year span of the Coastal Risk Assessment and Management Programme.

Speaking during the official launch of the CRMP at the Courtyard by Marriott today, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of the Environment and Drainage, Gayle Francis-Vaughn, said the review was being undertaken in an effort to include more comprehensive, issues of climate adaptation and disaster risk management.

She explained that issues related to climate change across all impacted sectors including agriculture, health and energy would be addressed by the CRMP.

Speaking on behalf of Minister Dr. Denis Lowe, Francis-Vaughn said CRMP was aimed at building resilience to coastal hazards in general and climate change in particular.

She added that the Coastal Zone Management Unit was now working to incorporate coastal climate change adaptation technologies and methods, and disaster risk reduction considerations into the integrated coastal zone management process.

“The project will deliver a comprehensive evaluation of the risks and vulnerability of Barbados to sea level-related hazards such as storm surge, winter swells wave events and tsunamis,” the permanent secretary explained.

CRMP is also expected to provide valuable information for agencies within the National Emergency Management System to implement additional mitigation measures and hazard response procedures, including evacuation routes from the coast and safe zones.

Francis-Vaughn told those present that as the new programme was rolled out, there would be new roles and responsibilities related to hazard mitigation beyond the CZMU, to involve agencies such as the Town and Country Development Planning Office and the Department of Emergency Management.

“We must attack the climate change challenges from many different angles. A combination of policy and regulatory intervention, behavioural change and social partnership, coastal engineering and infrastructure, biodiversity conservation and ecosystem management, all form part of the modus operandi of the CZMU, with data-driven disaster risk management soon to also be integral to the way forward in Barbados’ development,” she said.

The programme is the sixth Inter-American Development Bank funded programme, and is valued at US $42 million.

Acting Representative of the IDB, Christel Saab, said studies done by the bank on Indicators of Disaster and Risk Management for several Latin American and Caribbean countries showed that Barbados did not have the financial capacity to recover from a catastrophic event.

She added that the study also showed that while Barbados had made strides in the areas of preparedness and response, and progress and performance; in the key areas of risk identification, hazard prevention and mitigation, governance and financial protection for disasters remained weak.

“In this context the IDB approved in 2010 the investment loan Coastal Risk Assessment and Management Programme. The CRMP will support Government’s efforts to improve its risk management performance by building resilience to coastal hazards, including those associated with climate change, through enhanced conservation and management of the coastal zone,” she said, adding the bank was pleased to collaborate with the Barbados Government.

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