Saturday, February 18, 2012

Barbados looks to beaches as first line of defence

Desmond Brown in IPS: Like most of its neighbours in the English-speaking Caribbean, Barbados's main economic asset is its coastal zone. So it is no surprise that coastal instability due to climate change and an increasing frequency of disasters has caught the attention of officials on the tiny island where sandy beaches, coral reefs and other coastal ecosystems distributed along 97 kms of shoreline and a warm tropical climate create optimal conditions for a tourism industry.

The coastal zone is also central to the social and recreational lives of Barbadians, attracting more than one million people to beaches every year. But environmental and government officials say climate change is affecting and has the potential to severely modify the country's climate risk profile by altering the frequency and severity of existing coastal hazards, as well as generating new hazards such as sea level rise, in turn increasing socioeconomic vulnerability.

In response to this threat, Barbados is undertaking a Coastal Risk Assessment and Management Programme (CRMP), aimed at building resilience to coastal hazards and climate change across all impacted sectors, including agriculture, health and energy.

"By its design, its intention is to integrate climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction considerations into the existing Integrated Coastal Zone Management Programme of Barbados," Leo Brewster, director of the Coastal Zone Management Unit (CZMU), told IPS.

"The level of detail in the programme is intended to ensure that Barbados has the most up to date knowledge on its marine and coastal zone and the areas of greatest vulnerability to coastal and other hazards. It will result in the development of a comprehensive decision support tool for coastal management for the island," he added....

Beach north of Bathsheba, Saint Joseph, Barbados. Shot by Postdlf, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

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