Partnering with Red Cross in Grenada
Across the islands of the Eastern Caribbean, climate change already places intense pressure on human livelihoods and coastal and marine resources. While small islands states contribute very little to global climate change in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, these nations are the most vulnerable due to their high coastal population densities, limited land space, geographic isolation, scarce freshwater supplies and significant dependence on tourism and fisheries. Grenada is no exception. Its population and infrastructure is concentrated on the coastline, and its people rely heavily on natural resources to bring in revenue from tourism and fishing. Due to increased frequency and intensity of tropical storms and hurricanes, Grenada now faces significant threats from flooding, coastal erosion, saltwater intrusion of coastal aquifers and bleaching of coral reefs.
The Conservancy is using the coastal resilience approach and tool to help communities assess their social, ecological and economic risks from sea level rise and storms to make important coastal planning and management decisions and implement successful nature based adaptation solutions. The goal of this project is to demonstrate that governments and communities of small island states can enhance their resilience to climate change by protecting, restoring and effectively managing their marine and coastal ecosystems and strengthening local capacity for adaptation.
To help facilitate the community outreach, the Conservancy has partnered with the local office of the Red Cross. In addition, a land-use planning firm based in Miami, Florida is supporting the coastal resilience effort with design and planning capacity. Community outreach has focused on making a case for nature as a risk-reduction strategy, using the design firm’s strong visual materials to help demonstrate the island’s natural capacity for protection and solicit local input for nature based adaptation solutions.
Partnering with the local Red Cross office has led to a change in the way the both organizations assesses risk and design adaptation solutions. The Conservancy has persuaded the Red Cross to include nature as part of their Vulnerability Capacity Assessment in Grenada. The Red Cross has helped strengthen The Nature Conservancy’s work with local communities and science capturing human risk and vulnerability. Facilitated by the World Bank, the local government is adopting the spatial information generated by the project as a standard for the national data-banks used to support disaster risk management and climate adaptation decisions. In addition, the coastal resilience approach is being incorporated in training materials developed by the World Bank for the region.
As chair of the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) the government of Grenada has considerable influence. Success here can open doors and expand the use of coastal resilience in other nations.Successes with the Red Cross create potential to engage Red Cross staff in other Caribbean islands – and across the world – to make nature a fixture in the organization’s vulnerability assessments globally. There is also potential to continue to strengthen the Conservancy’s science and work with local communities across the world.