Barbados’ Coastal Zone Management Unit (CZMU) is being sought after by countries seeking assistance in dealing with their own coastal erosion and climate change issues.

To date, the country has had requests for assistance from Grenada and Colombia, and has worked with the World Bank in St. Vincent to address issues they were facing. In addition, the Unit’s Deputy Director, Dr. Lorna Inniss, said Barbados was almost always a part of the international negotiations on the management of oceans and coasts.

"Everything that is going on internationally, they call Coastal [CZMU]," she noted. Dr. Inniss disclosed that she was presently working along with colleagues from the United Kingdom and a group of experts to deliver the first ever Global Marine Assessment that is expected to be completed by the end of 2014.

She added that the CZMU was currently discussing plans for a South-to-South Co-operation programme where officials from the Unit would visit low-lying coastal islands in the Pacific to give assistance and advice on their climate change, coastal erosion and inundation issues.

First on the list are Kiribati [pronounced Ku-ri-bas] and Tuvalu, two countries located within the Pacific Ocean, which are experiencing negative climate change effects.

Dr. Inniss explained the issue of climate change refugees was being raised as the two countries struggled to relocate some of their populations to other countries, due to increasing water mark levels. "Where the sea water would come to high water and it was 10 metres, it is now 100 metres in-land," she said.

However, the Deputy Director cautioned that it was an issue Barbados too, should also consider. "It is a serious thing and the question is how high would the sea-level rise [have to] go before we have to deal with that eventually, though we are much higher," she noted.

At the UNESCO level, Dr. Inniss said the CZMU was also involved in a number of programmes. These include the Tsunami and Coastal Hazard Warning System for the Caribbean and adjacent region, and the Caribbean Marine Atlas. She explained the latter programme sought to collate data and information on the coastal and marine resources of the Caribbean Sea into an electronic searchable data atlas which could be sourced on the Internet.

The Unit is also working on the Caribbean Large Marine Eco-system Project which looks at the governance of the shared living marine resources of the Caribbean Sea, to come up with a governance structure and framework, along with the Integrated Coastal Area Management Project for the Caribbean.

Dr. Inniss pointed out that the CZMU was also in the process of developing a plan of action to deal with the Harmful Algae Blooms. "All it will take is for one tourist to be impacted by poisonous algae to affect our tourism product. We are learning about these harmful algae and how to identify them, so if we ever have an event like that we can affect a response," she said.

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