Climate change has been described as one of the crisis of our day. Latin American and the Caribbean are predicted to be one of the regions most affected by a temperature spike that has been forecasts to take place during this century. Adapting to changes today will increase the Caribbean's resilience to future disasters.
For Latin America and the Caribbean, if global temperatures were to rise four (4) degrees Celsius by 2100, according to the study, "Turning down the Heat," the possible consequences would be increased high-intensity storms, reduced arable land and the loss of low-lying regions.
Today, the global climate is changing, and regions around the globe must adapt to in order to maximize their resilience to the changes. This resilience means ensuring Caribbean infrastructure can withstand the new climatic extremes that have been forecasted; growing a wider variety of crops, which perform well in droughts, floods and heat, as well as guaranteeing future crops through seed-banks.
Prioritizing land use to preserve and manage multiple threats; implementing emergency response plans and early-warning alert systems; developing social safety nets and insurance to protect the region's most vulnerable groups; sharing best practices and information systems between countries; monitoring the region's weather and climate.
In April the National Meteorological Services of North, Central American and the Caribbean met in Curacao to discuss matters of common interest, including preparations for the upcoming hurricane season.
The Kingdom of the Netherlands has changed since 10-10-10 where Sint Maarten has its own Meteorological Department. A significant development happened in April when the four directors of the Met services in the Kingdom seized the opportunity to have their first joint meeting, to explore opportunities for mutual support and capacity building. These include common training of staff, regional modelling for weather forecasting and joint research on climate change.
I hope the St. Maarten Meteorological Department will develop a paper to present to the Council of Ministers and the Parliament of Sint Maarten in order to bring forth the climate change issue to the top of the country's national agenda as one of the "crisis of our day." No attention or very little has been given to this topic. It is a national issue for more than 130 countries around the globe.
Dealing with climate change will have consequences for the National Development Plan (NDP) that is currently being developed as well as for future national budgets. Planning for climate change needs to be started today, and not tomorrow.
The 2007 Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change identified this global phenomenon as the most serious threat to the long-term socio-economic development of Small Island Developing States (SIDS), and Country Sint Maarten is one of those islands.
Barbados as a Caribbean country is placing emphasis on further developing its early warning systems to address climate extremes, as concerns surrounding climate change continue to grow. Barbados is doing so as it relates to atmospheric and ocean climate, to support economic and social considerations for the island.
Among the measures being sought are practical solutions for farmers in watersheds who are experiencing negative impacts related to drought, and those affected by floods. Barbados has to find practical solutions for farmers in watersheds by understanding drainage and precipitation issues, retain excess rainwater where feasible, and augment supply consistently during drought conditions.
Barbados Coastal Risk Assessment and Management Unit were designed to develop credible models for coastal erosion, storm surges, inundation and cliff stability for extreme events.
The Caribbean island of Jamaica has been examining the idea of concepts for Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Action (NAMA) projects in Jamaica's energy sector that have climate change mitigation potential.
Various Caribbean island nations are in different stages in addressing climate change that is expected to impact future generations. Country Sint Maarten's current generation has a moral responsibility to also address this issue described by others as the "crisis of our day." We should move post haste in addressing this issue at the executive and legislative branches of government. Starting the adaptation process today will increase our country's resilience.