For many people living in the Caribbean, the difference is already being felt: climate change and a host of other factors have led to unpredictable weather and the loss or degradation of natural resources, like coastal erosion. Whether they make their living from the sea, farming, tourism or crafts, residents in coastal communities want to know and understand more about these changes because they affect their lives and livelihoods.
The big question for them is what they can do about it?
The Climate Change, Coastal Community Enterprises, Adaptation, Resilience and Knowledge (CCCCE-ARK – pronounced “sea-ark”) project, is a two-and-a-half-year initiative to help people who operate small-scale businesses tackle the storms of climate change and make their businesses more economically viable and sustainable over time. It involves finding ways to deal with the challenges they face, for example water scarcity, drought, flooding and coastal erosion from storm surge and sea level rise.
Small businesses play a vital role in Caribbean coastal communities and their local economies, providing about 90 percent of all jobs and accounting for roughly 70 percent of the overall economy. They are also some of the most vulnerable to both environmental and economic impacts – their reliance on natural resources combined with their limited financial means (amongst others), makes it that much harder for them to change their operations, relocate or rebuild when disaster strikes.
The CCCCE-ARK project will benefit about 1,200 low-income residents and 50 micro- to medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) across eight coastal communities in Jamaica, Belize, Barbados, and the Bahamas. Its goal is to develop adaptation plans for the community as whole, and also for the 50 enterprises participating in the project. Half of these businesses will receive funding and targeted training to put their adaptation strategies into commercial practice. Participants will be selected based on their interest, capacity to learn and ability to influence others in the community.
Best practices will be shared from community to community, and country to country through several exchanges. For example, Bahamian fishermen, who have already well-established sustainable fishing practices designed to counter coral bleaching, will travel to Barbados to share their experience with fishermen there. Conditions will vary from business to business and place to place but the underlying holistic approach promises benefits for the wider MSME community.
This project is just the start of what is hoped will be a broader venture showing other communities and businesses throughout the region how the model can be expanded and applied to their situation. Case studies and videos of the lessons learned from the process will be made available so that others too, can find a way to adapt their businesses to thrive in the future – despite a changing climate.
The project is the first climate change adaptation project being funded by the Multilateral Investment Facility of the Inter-American Development Bank.
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