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CIMH research assistant Shelly-Ann Cox. (CMC photo)
CIMH research assistant Shelly-Ann Cox. (CMC photo)
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CASTRIES, St. Lucia, CMC — The Barbados-based Caribbean Institute of Meteorology and Hydrology (CIMH) has launched an online platform documenting the impact of climate events and responses and the planning and mitigation strategies to deal with such events.

The CIMH’s Caribbean Climate Impacts Database was launched Tuesday night at the conclusion of a two-day Regional Climate Outlook forum for the 2015 wet/hurricane season.

CIMH climatologist Cèdric Van Meerbeeck said that as the Caribbean confronts the effects of climate change, steps have to be taken, from monitoring and prediction to adaptation and resilience.

“The first is building capacity — the region’s capacity to communicate and disseminate the climate information that is being produced, documenting how those events are impacting societies and the environment, documenting the vast response, the planning and mitigation strategies to such impact and how that changes with time as society changes,” he said.

Van Meerbeeck also spoke of the importance of building capacity within the climate sensitive socio-economic sectors to absorb early warming information from climate monitor and prediction components.

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Deputy permanent secretary in the Ministry of Communication and Works here, Ivor Daniel, spoke of the benefits of the database to stakeholders.

“We endorse this platform as we expect it to contribute to the reduction of vulnerability in our region to the climate-related hazards, and it will be doing so through evidenced based information trapped within this database,” Daniel said, referring also to its wide reach.

“It has a reach to 19 English-speaking Caribbean countries, including the Caribbean Meteorological Organisation members, as well the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency.

“We do know that the Climate Impacts Database will be utilised properly and will be populated frequently and will serve as we expect, as the centralised platform to support disaster risk management and effective climate risk management in the region,” Daniel said.

He expressed the hope that the platform will be widely used and will be the leading tool for disaster risk managers and their stakeholders throughout the region and that it will ensure and improve the effectiveness and efficiency of sustainable planning, adaptation and mitigation measures within the Caribbean.

Daniel further implored the CIMH to ensure the integrity of the data.

“As they say, garbage in garbage out,” he said even as he expressed hope that the various meteorological organisations across the region will adopt and respect the standard operating procedures and will continue to share the experiences they’ve gained the two-days of meetings.

Daniel said this approach will ensure that the region’s vulnerability to the issues of climate variability will certainly be reduced.

CIMH research assistant Shelly-Ann Cox said the platform is important it provides evidence-based information to inform decision making.

“It improves the efficiency of sustainable planning, it contributes to reducing vulnerability, and it supports regional growth resilient to climate risk.

“The Climate Impacts Database is a geospatial open source inventory of climate related impacts. So, we are talking impacts of heat waves, of floods, drought spells, hydro meteorological hazards and all these impacts we want to archived in a centralised platform that can be easily accessed by you and you can do simple queries where these impacts occur, when they happen.

“And what’s even better is not just impacts but the response mechanisms are there for easy reference,” Cox said.