USAID’s partner, the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre, approached Maya Island Air and eventually created a public private partnership to benefit people living throughout the Caribbean.
Maya Island Air partnered with the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre to enable LiDAR missions. | Credit: USAID

A Catalyst for Climate Finance and Action in the Eastern and Southern Caribbean

By Christine Chumbler

USAID investments in reducing the risks and impacts of climate change—through increasing community resilience, building regional climate science capacity, or providing meteorological equipment—are vital for the countries of the Eastern and Southern Caribbean (ESC). But ideally these investments can also have tremendous knock-on effects, encouraging the formation of additional partnerships with the private sector and other donors, and therefore increasing overall investment. The Climate Change Adaptation Program (CCAP) is one such investment.

The goal of the CCAP is to reduce risks to human and natural assets resulting from climate change vulnerability through strengthening an integrated system for the implementation and financing of sustainable adaptation approaches in Antigua & Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, St. Kitts & Nevis, Saint Lucia, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, Suriname, and Trinidad & Tobago. From an investment of $10 million, the CCAP has successfully leveraged approximately $310 million dollars over the life of the project, from July 2016 to September 2020. The design and flexibility of the CCAP catalytic interventions resulted in a domino effect of leveraged financing that continues to provide additional benefits to the region.

Prior to the CCAP investment, the inadequacy of useful data in the ESC stymied the ability of governments and communities to adapt to the negative impacts of climate change. CCAP recognized that for climate change impacts to be sustainably addressed within the Caribbean, the region required a cohesive system that could produce climate change data, incorporate this data into decision making at various levels, design and implement innovative adaptation projects that could be replicated, and generate sustainable financing for scaling-up and replication beyond the scope of the project. USAID’s investments through CCAP were designed to build the foundation for just this kind of system.

Automatic Weather Stations

The deployment of automatic weather stations is essential to generate more comprehensive datasets of hydrometeorological data, inclusive of wind speed and direction, air temperature, relative humidity, barometric pressure, precipitation, solar radiation, and water levels. The initial investment of less than $830,000 for 50 weather stations meant that the Caribbean Institute for Meteorology and Hydrology, which has the responsibility for their management, was able to provide more accurate forecasting of weather conditions for its ESC clients over an expanded coverage area. The value of this enhanced data capture platform allowed the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre, the organization that implemented CCAP, to leverage funding from the European Union for a further 41 stations at a value of more than $900,000 to be installed across all Caribbean countries, including Cuba and the Dominican Republic.

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A new weather monitoring station is inaugurated in Suriname.
A new weather monitoring station is inaugurated in Suriname.

Coral Reef Early Warning System Stations

In order to monitor the health of the Caribbean Basin’s coral reefs, CCAP installed five coral reef early warning system stations in St. Kitts & Nevis, Antigua & Barbuda, Saint Lucia, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, and Grenada. These stations are designed to collect real time environmental data from prime coral reef sites throughout the world, analyze patterns and trends via an artificial intelligence technology, and predict the effects of environmental events such as bleaching on coral reefs. Environmental data collected include atmospheric and sea temperatures, wind speeds and direction, ultraviolet radiation at the surface and one meter depth, tides, salinity, and barometric pressure. The total investment under the CCAP was just over $210,000. The successful deployment of these stations was also recognized by the European Union (EU), which funded a further expansion of the network in areas outside of the ESC. Once again, the Center, with an investment of $396,000 from the EU, was able to leverage CCAP’s investment for greater climate resilient action in the Caribbean.

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A coral reef monitoring station in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
A coral reef monitoring station in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) Instrument

LiDAR is a remote sensing technology that is used to capture highly accurate elevation measurements of the earth’s surface. The system, which can be mounted on an aircraft, uses laser light to scan the ground to generate precise, three-dimensional information on surface shapes and characteristics of both land surfaces and nearshore seabeds. As a result, the state-of-the-art system is capable of providing critical data for monitoring and planning for physical changes to the region’s land and marine environments. It is especially useful for floodplain, near-shore, and storm surge mapping, drainage, and irrigation design. A $2.5 million grant from CCAP allowed the Center to buy this much-needed equipment.

This investment enabled the Center to leverage additional financing from the Caribbean Development Bank and the Government of Italy of $1.46 million and $600,000, respectively, in addition to approximately $500,000 in co-financing from the Center itself. The value of the LiDAR as a business venture attracted a Belizean airline, Maya Island Air, which invested $2 million of its own funds to acquire and customize a Cessna aircraft as the airborne platform for LiDAR missions.

Climate Financing

USAID also built capacity within the Center to assist national institutions in developing scaled-up projects for submission to established global funding institutions such as the Green Climate Fund (GCF). The Center became a Direct Access Entity to the GCF in July 2015, permitting access to grant funding of up to $50 million per project. CCAP support to this project development facility resulted in the mobilization of approximately $55.7 million to date from the GCF. Thus, for every dollar invested through the CCAP, the Center mobilized $33. In addition, the resources also enabled the development of GCF pipeline projects worth $300 million across CARICOM Member States. The Center is actively working to advance project ideas, concepts, and funding proposals for the GCF, covering renewable energy, community resilience, water resources management, coral reef restoration and emergency management, reducing risk in watershed areas, marine resources resilience building, and the health sector.

The injection of USAID funds through the CCAP produced the most robust platform for resilience building in the region to date. The investments in data instrumentation and management in general and through the acquisition of the region’s only wholly owned LiDAR platform now make possible the capture of high-resolution geospatial data to support enhanced evidence-based decision making. The data needed to justify donor and private sector investments is now available, paving the way for future work that will allow the region to be better prepared for the challenges that climate change will present.

Sectors
Adaptation
Strategic Objective
Adaptation
Topics
Adaptation, Climate Change, Climate Finance, Climate Risk Management, Climate Science, Coastal, Private Sector Engagement, Weather, Climate Information Services
Region
Latin America & Caribbean

Christine Chumbler

Christine Chumbler is a communications professional with more than 20 years experience in writing, editing, and publications design. She has expertise in every stage of publication production, from concept and writing to editing, design, and printing. In the mid-1990s, she was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Malawi. This experience led to a career using her writing and editorial skills with international development and foreign policy organizations, many of which worked to directly support USAID’s efforts. She has worked in a freelance capacity full-time since May 2016. Chumbler has a Master’s in journalism from the University of Michigan and a Bachelor’s in environmental studies from the University of California, Santa Cruz.

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