Montserrat progresses with its development of a Climate Change Policy and Action Plan

BRADES – The public is invited to review the draft Climate Change Policy and Action Plan for Montserrat says officials from the Department of Environment.

Stakeholders in Montserrat are aiming to achieve climate resilient development through an integrated and coordinated response across all sectors of society. This was the goal proposed by stakeholders for Montserrat’s new National Climate Change Policy during a workshop held on June 18 in Little Bay.
The Ministry of Agriculture, Trade, Land, Housing and the Environment is leading the collective effort to prepare a National Climate Change Policy and Action Plan for Montserrat. This is being supported under the Climate Change Adaptation and Sustainable Land Management Project in the Eastern Caribbean project, which is managed by the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) on behalf of participating members. The Caribbean Natural Resources Institute (CANARI) is facilitating the process.
Climate change will have serious impact across all sectors and facets of life in Montserrat and stakeholders are developing a National Policy and Action Plan. These will lay out a framework for an integrated and coordinated response that engages all stakeholders in collaborative actions for adaptation (via building resilience to negative impacts) and mitigation (via low carbon development).
The unusually dry season Montserrat experienced this year is likely to be more frequent and more intense as a result of Climate Change. The average annual rainfall is expected to decrease and temperatures to increase. More intense storms and hurricanes with heavier rainfall and higher winds can cause flooding and landslides. Bigger storm surges alongside sea level rise will threaten Little Bay and other coastal developments.
The recent workshop was the second in the consultation process for stakeholders to analyse impacts and decide on priorities. Priority areas for urgent action include making energy and water infrastructure (including generation systems, distribution lines and storage systems) able to withstand the projected extreme weather events. Critical infrastructure such as the hospital, airport, seaport and roads, and buildings will also need to be enhanced to ensure that they can also withstand the stronger storms and hurricanes. Management strategies will need to be put in place to protect the Centre Hills and other ecosystems and biodiversity. New agricultural methods and crops will be needed to ensure food production can continue, and increase, given drought and high temperatures. Health systems will need to be put in place to address the projected increase in diseases which are anticipated with changes in rainfall and higher temperatures.
In the workshop, stakeholders noted that the Action Plan needs to be realistic given the capacity constraints in Montserrat. It will clearly identify short, medium and long-term actions to guide responses by all sectors. But they were positive in recognising that addressing climate change issues and “climate proofing” sectors will build on much of the work already being done in developing renewable energy and the new energy policy, the new building code, conservation of the Centre Hills biodiversity, and agricultural extension.
The draft Policy and Action Plan are available from the Department of Environment or CANARI for comment until June 30.