Senior representatives of the Caribbean Community Climate Change Center (CCCCC) visited the IAEA and its laboratories to discuss areas for cooperation with the Agency. The Center, based in Belize, was established in 2002 by the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Heads of Government and officially opened in August 2017. The CCCCC plays an important role in coordinating the Caribbean region’s response to climate change, working on effective solutions to combat the environmental impacts of climate change and global warming through numerous projects and scientific research. The visit of the CCCCC took place 30 October to 3 November.
The CCCCC delegation, led by CCCCC Executive Director, Kenneth Leslie, included Ulric Trotz, Deputy Executive Director and Science Adviser, Mark Byone, Assistant Executive Director and Head of the Programme Development and Management Unit, Donneil Cain, Project Development Specialist, Keith Nichols, Senior Project Manager and Sharon Lindo, Policy Adviser. The delegation first visited the IAEA Environment Laboratories in Monaco, where they learned about the IAEA’s work relating to the marine environment.
David Osborn, Director of the laboratories, welcomed the delegates and provided an overview of how various nuclear and isotopic techniques can contribute to Member States’ efforts to protect the environment. Monitoring the presence of marine contaminants and understanding the impact of ocean acidification are among several potential areas for cooperation between the CCCCC and the IAEA which were subsequently discussed. The CCCCC delegation also highlighted the need to connect environmental challenges in the Caribbean with the socioeconomic issues of the region.
This was followed by a tour of the Monaco laboratories to see first-hand how scientists at the IAEA can assist Member States by providing the necessary information for more precise and effective environmental management, and by building Member State capacities in applying nuclear technology in this field.
The following day, the representatives travelled to the IAEA Headquarters in Vienna, to take part in a workshop with IAEA staff members from TCLAC, the Department of Nuclear Sciences and Applications, as well as the Department of Nuclear Energy, on ‘Climate Change and Nuclear Techniques for the Caribbean Community’.
The workshop was held to establish a base for discussion and partnership development between the CCCCC and the IAEA in the upcoming years, for the benefit of the Caribbean Community.
At the opening of the workshop, Mr. Longoria, Director of TCLAC, highlighted the importance of this meeting: “The IAEA looks forward to identifying areas for cooperation between our agencies to support Caribbean countries in their efforts to address immediate and long term vulnerabilities to climate change in the region, and to contribute towards strenghtening Caribbean countries’ resilience and sustainable development. It is the IAEA’s goal to support your work and find synergies for cooperation and exchange of information in order to support the region’s efforts towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals”.
The CCCCC delegation also visited the IAEA Isotope Hydrology Laboratory at IAEA Headquarters to learn more about the use of isotopes in measuring precipitation and in water resource management, and the IAEA Laboratories in Seibersdorf, where they were introduced to the role of nuclear technology in insect pest control, plant breeding and genetics, soil and water management and crop nutrition, as well as in food production and environmental protection.
Dr Leslie said: “the tools developed by the IAEA in Seibersdorf are very useful for the Caribbean region, especially with regards to improving crop resilience to face ever increasing temperatures, salt water intrusion and drought”.
At the end of the weeklong visit, Mr. Leslie remarked that “the workshop has been an eye-opener on the role of the IAEA in sustainable development”.
Upon returning to their headquarters in Belize, the CCCCC plans to share the the information on the work of the IAEA acquired during the workshop with stakeholders and countries in the region, with a view to advising national and regional policy- and decision-makers.
The IAEA, through its technical cooperation programme, assists its Member States in combatting climate change and its effects. Furthermore, the TCP also helps countries in the region manage water resources and combat vector borne diseases such as malaria, zika and dengue, through the use of nuclear techniques.
The number of IAEA Member States from the non-Spanish speaking part of the Caribbean has been increasing steadily, with a total today of nine countries . Saint Lucia, Grenada, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines are in the process of depositing their legal instruments for IAEA membership, and other countries from the region are expected to join in the near future.