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Petre Williams-Raynor, country director for Panos Jamaica.
Petre Williams-Raynor, country director for Panos Jamaica.
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PANOS Caribbean is among more than 30 representatives from organisations across the developing world, gathered in China this month for a training programme to boost their knowledge of climate information services.

The “Climate Change and Climate Information Service for Developing Countries” seminar got going on May 5 at Nanjing University for Information Science and Technology (NUIST), and will run until May 25.

“There is no question of the value of being a participant here. Climate change education and advocacy around climate justice forms a part of the core of what we do at Panos Caribbean,” said Petre Williams-Raynor, country director for Panos Jamaica.

“Only a week into the course and already my knowledge of climate change has increased. Also, my appreciation for the rigour of the research that goes into arming us with the needed information to inform our projects and, ultimately, empower our beneficiaries in the region has been significantly enhanced,” she added.

So far, the seminar has taken participants through an introduction to climatology; the physical science fundamentals of climate change; climate change impacts, adaptation and mitigation; as well as the monitoring, assessment and service of climatic resources.

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Participants are comprised of development communications and media practitioners, engineers and meteorologists from Ethiopia, Grenada, Panama, and Malawi, among other countries, and represent organisations including the Caribbean Maritime Institute and the Jamaica Observer.

In addition to the other course content, they have been provided with a healthy dose of statistical methods for short-term climatic diagnosis and prediction and will, in the coming days, look at the utilisation of climatic resources and the international cooperation on climate change.

“The information has been tremendously rich. I have new found respect for the work of our scientists in and outside of the Caribbean working, independently and collaboratively, on climate change,” Williams-Raynor said.

“Research is vital if we are to get ahead of the changing climate and the implications it holds for life as we know it,” she added.

Zhu Jinjun, of the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) Regional Training Centre at NUIST, said the seminar is an important service.

“Our training centre is WMO Training Centre. That means we do some contribution to the WMO, to meteorology, to the climate and weather. We hope this training does just some service for world meteorology,” he said.

The seminar is one of several being hosted at NUIST this year and which are to benefit more than 50 countries.

Developing countries and in particular small-island developing states, such as those of the Caribbean, are especially vulnerable to climate change, given their small physical size, geographical location and challenged economies.

The climate impacts they face include rising sea levels, coastal inundation, and erosion, which could undermine livelihoods, particularly in agriculture, fisheries and tourism. Other impacts include warmer temperatures and extreme weather events, such as hurricanes and droughts.