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Development Account Projects

Climate change impacts on coastal transport infrastructure in the Caribbean: enhancing the adaptive capacity of small island developing States

Background:

Small island developing States share environmental and economic vulnerabilities and sustainable development challenges, including susceptibility to natural disasters, isolation from major markets and dependence on international trade and tourism. Low elevation and dependence on critical transport infrastructure such as seaports and airports make them highly vulnerable to the effects of climate change, especially increased temperature, flooding/sea-level rise and extreme weather events. Therefore, adapting seaports and airports to the impacts of climate change is vital to the sustainable development prospects of these vulnerable nations. Targeted capacity-building is required in order to develop effective adaptation measures that ensure the resilience of transport infrastructure, services and operations in small island developing States.

The proposed project is aimed at enhancing the understanding/technical knowledge among policymakers, transport planners and transport infrastructure managers in small island developing States of the impacts of climate change on coastal transport infrastructure, in particular seaports and airports, and building their capacity to develop adequate adaptation response measures. A case study focusing on two vulnerable small island developing States in the Caribbean region (Jamaica and Saint Lucia) will be carried out to enhance the relevant adaptive capacity at the country level (phase I) and to develop a methodology/framework for assessing adaptation needs and priorities in coastal transport infrastructure (seaports and, as appropriate, airports) as a tool for use in other small island developing States (phase II). The case study involves three main components: (a) an assessment of the potential climate change impacts on seaports and airports in Jamaica and Saint Lucia, their direct costs and their broader economic impacts; (b) an assessment of options for adaptation in response to the potential impacts; and (c) the development of a methodology/tool to assist transport infrastructure managers and other relevant entities in small island developing States in assessing adaptation needs and priorities in the area of coastal transport infrastructure. The results of the study will be presented and training on the methodology provided at workshops for stakeholders at the national and regional levels. The two project countries that are the focus of the case study were selected using various criteria, including size, economic parameters, geographical conditions and potential exposure of transport infrastructure. The methodology will, subject to location-specific modifications, be available for use in other small island developing States in the Caribbean region as well as in other regions.

The project will be implemented by UNCTAD, but significant collaboration with other entities and stakeholders is envisaged, including with UNEP; regional commissions, in particular ECLAC; UNDP; the World Bank; and the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre. Work will be carried out, as appropriate, in close cooperation with private sector partners and, importantly, with local stakeholders, including relevant seaport/airport and planning authorities and local academic institutions.

Objective:

To strengthen the capacity of policymakers, transport planners and transport infrastructure managers in small island developing States to take appropriate adaptation response measures to climate change impacts on seaports and airports

Expected accomplishments:

  • Enhanced knowledge/understanding among policymakers, transport planners and transport infrastructure managers in small island developing States of climate change impacts on seaport and airport infrastructure as well as associated implications for services and operations
  • Strengthened capacity of policymakers, transport planners and transport infrastructure managers in small island developing States to effectively plan and develop requisite adaptation measures that enhance the resilience of coastal transport infrastructure

Implementation status:

Summary of the progress report for 2014

The following activities have taken place/ are ongoing:

  • International and regional consultants have been identified and their recruitment is in progress;
  • Significant progress has been made in identifying experts and stakeholders for the purposes of future project activities (e.g. Expert Group Meeting; National and regional workshops );
  • Communications have been initiated with UNECLAC, IOC, the Pacific Islands Forum, UNEP and CCCCC with a view to fostering interagency cooperation;
  • Establishment of a web-based platform is under way;
  • Two intergovernmental meetings have taken place, with a focus on SIDS and their transport-related challenges, including in particular climate and weather related threats to critical coastal transport infrastructure and operations in SIDS: (a) an Ad Hoc Expert Meeting was convened on 11 July 2014; (b) the third session of the Multi-year Expert Meeting on Transport, Trade Logistics and Trade Facilitation was held on 24-26 November 2014.
  • UNCTAD staff involved in the project have been invited to participate in the "Working Group on climate change adaptation for maritime and inland port and navigation infrastructure", which was recently established by PIANC (a key NGO). UNCTAD's participation in the Working Group will substantively benefit activities and assist in identification of experts as well as of best practices for the purposes of project activities).