Barbados has launched its first effort to map its capacity to produce and use climate information for risk-informed decision-making, with a view to combating the challenges related to climate variability and climate change.

In a meeting on November 20, five of Barbados??? climate-sensitive sectors agreed to initiate the process to develop Sectoral Early Warning Information Systems Across Climate Timescales (EWISACTs) at the national level.

The national workshop brought together 22 representatives from Barbados??? agriculture, disaster risk management, energy, health and water management sectors.

It was hosted by the Barbados Meteorological Services (BMS) and supported by the Caribbean Institute for Meteorology and Hydrology (CIMH), through the United States Agency for International Development-funded Building Regional Climate Capacity in the Caribbean Programme.

Representatives from the Coastal Zone Management Unit, the Ministry of the Environment and Drainage, the Ministry of International Business and International Transport, the Barbados Meteorological Services and the CIMH were also in attendance.

Regional agencies such as the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency, the Caribbean Tourism Organization and the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture also attended to support the national-level implementation.

The cross-sectoral group discussed avenues for the formalisation of the Caribbean???s first national-level partnership between the national Meteorological Services and climate-sensitive sectors, for the systematic delivery of tailored climate early warning information products.

Director of the Barbados Meteorological Services, Hampden Lovell, said that the partnership would allow the Barbados Meteorological Services to support several key sectors to better manage the risks and opportunities arising from climate variability and change, especially for those who are most vulnerable to such risks.

???Eventually, what we hope to achieve is the development and incorporation of science-based climate information into national planning, policy and practice,??? he explained.

These efforts come as prevailing drought conditions and the third global coral bleaching event are affecting the region and its climate sensitive sectors, in part, as a result of El Ni??o 2015. Chief of Applied Meteorology and Climatology at CIMH, Adrian Trotman, said the impact of this El Ni??o was already being felt terrestrially and in the region???s aquatic ecosystems.

???Being able to reduce the impacts from climate events like El Ni??o will become paramount for regional and national development. The partnerships that are currently being created will allow the region to better respond to climate events more efficiently within our sectors which operate at national levels,??? he stated.

The inaugural Barbados session was the first in a series of national-level meetings to strategise for the production and use of sectoral early warning information. It follows regional level action by the CIMH and lead regional organisations for several climate-sensitive sectors to design, develop and deliver climate early warning information systems.

More national-level meetings will be organised across the region, with the National Met Services playing a lead coordinating role in those sessions.

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