The Office of Climate Change (OCC) of the Ministry of the Presidency in collaboration with the Caribbean Community Centre on Climate Change (CCCCC or Five Cs), today, concluded a five day Caribbean Climate Online Risk and Adaptation TooL (CCORAL) training, which is geared towards assisting policy and decision makers to draft and design projects, particularly in the area of infrastructural development, which adequately integrate climate change, climate risk and climate vulnerability considerations.
The training, which comes at a time when Guyana has embarked on a ‘green’ development agenda to protect the country’s natural patrimony and contribute to the global fight against the effects of climate change and global warming, targeted participants from Ministries and Government agencies such as the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Public Infrastructure, the Protected Areas Commission, Ministry of the Presidency, Office of Climate Change, National Agricultural Research and Extension Institute (NAREI) and the University of Guyana and ranged from Senior Technical Officers, Engineers and Senior Planning Officers to Deputy Permanent Secretaries.
Head of the OCC, Ms. Janelle Christian, in an invited comment, said that the high level guidance component helps decision makers, particularly those in Government, to understand climate impacts and resilience in the context of their activities and decision making process and helps them see normal activities through a ‘climate’ or ‘climate change’ lens.
“We recognise that more and more we need to view through the lens of climate change all of our traditional plans and projects. Climate change cuts across all sectors. It influences our plans and we need to start integrating climate change, climate risks, climate vulnerability into those national plans and programmes. So it is just not an environmental concern. It is a developmental and economic concern and so due consideration must be given to all our plans,” Ms. Christian said.
CCORAL is an online support system, which helps users to work within their own organisational decision making processes, quickly screen and prioritise their activities, understand climate influence and management options at each stage of their activity, apply a climate risk management process, find appropriate tools in the CCORAL toolbox and learn more about next steps and further information. The screening exercise allows users to rapidly assess in less than five minutes if their activity is climate influenced and a priority for further assessment. This reduces the burden on the user and provides an early exit point for those activities, which are not high priority, recognising the reality of organisational capacity constraints across the Caribbean. The screening exercise also fulfils another important objective, in that over time it is designed to enable those with little or no experience in building climate resilience to gain confidence in their ability to quickly identify and challenge decisions.
Given the nature of the training, Ms. Christian said that the OCC invited Permanent Secretaries of the various Ministries to the closing ceremony so that they can recognise the importance of the workshop and to ensure that the participants are able to share their thoughts and opinions on projects, upon their return to their various agencies and Ministries, to ensure that they are in conformity with the CCORAL model.
“This afternoon, the participants had the opportunity to make their presentations to the Permanent Secretaries and Heads so that we can gain an appreciation of how important this tool is going forward, to be incorporated in all of our agencies at the national level. We recognised that it must truly be an integrated approach. We recognised that failure to consider these risks, the probability of a climate event occurring and the economic and social impact, which may occur as a result it is critical that we be proactive and screen all of our projects and plans to view it from the lens of climate change and climate risks that are likely to occur and in come instances, that are already occurring in Guyana,” she said.
Questioned on how this training will benefit the average Guyanese, Ms. Christian said it is expected that more consideration would be given to climate resiliency and mitigation in projects, thereby making Guyana more climate conscious society, equipped to deal with the effects of the change in climate. Thus far, the Head of the OCC said that the response is positive and it is hoped that the training can be taken to other levels of the Government so that a more concerted effort is taken.
“We had the Permanent Secretaries here and other Heads and they have all expressed an interest for this to continue and for the other Permanent Secretaries to be included. I think they recognise how important the tool is so they have asked that this continue at all levels where we have follow up training sessions and opportunities for all Permanent Secretaries to benefit. They have also asked us to take it to the regional and community level so we have boldly requested that support from the Five Cs. My expectation is that it will become a part of our natural operation in the work that we do whenever we are considering our plans,” she said.
Meanwhile, Mr. Keith Nichols, Senior Project Development Specialist of the CCCCC, said that the training ties in with the ‘green’ agenda Guyana has chosen to adopt. “The Five Cs remains positioned to provide any and all support necessary to any country that requires our support and Guyana is no exception. We want to pursue any programme or activity that will help us to imbed this tool as a full-institutionalised decision making mechanism in the country so we have to ensure that it is not something that is used in an adhoc manner. Whatever we can do to help elevate and advance that process we will do. If it means coming back here to support other training activities we will do that too but we would like to see it become a fixture in decision-making,” he said.
Pointing out that the training is timely for the country, Mr. Nichols said that it is the duty of every citizen now to ensure that all steps necessary to combat and mitigate the effects of climate change are taken.
“Climate risk is something we have to deal with on a regular basis. It is real. We have been experiencing the impacts of Climate Change and climate vulnerability for a while now. The impacts are becoming more severe. These will continue to impact us so climate risk as a regular, every day occurrence is something that we have to deal with no matter who we are, whether Government, private sector, a community, individual, household or the ordinary person walking in the street. We all have to deal with the impacts of climate change,” he said.
One of the participants of today’s session, Dr. Paulette Bynoe said that she believes that it is an important tool, which will now help Guyana to transition into the ‘green’ economy that has envisioned.
“I can see the usefulness in terms of planning and I think that we can continue this. Those of us who have been trained can organise sessions. This tool helps us to really apply that risk base approach…especially in the context of a ‘green’ economy,” she said.
Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Communities, Mr. Emil McGarrell said that he hopes that the knowledge can now be used in a proficient and efficient manner to serve the Guyanese people. “It is a tool and like any tool it is important that you use it and to become proficient you must use it very often. We are engaging in a lot of projects across the sectors so there is a great opportunity to develop capacity to efficiently apply it,” he said.