Project manager of the Coastal Risk Assessment and Management Programme, Antonio Rowe (second from right) speaking with delegates (from left: Cleopatra Marrugo, Aury Guerrero Bowie, Elizabeth Taylor and Arturo Robinson at Holetown, St. James. (C. Pitt/BGIS)

High-level talks were held today between Barbados’ coastal and environmental experts and a visiting Colombian delegation to identify areas of collaboration in dealing with coastal erosion issues facing that country.

And, with Barbados already having a technical cooperation agreement in place with Colombia, Deputy Director of the Coastal Zone Management Unit (CZMU), Dr. Lorna Inniss, said that it would lay the framework for rendering technical assistance to that country.

She was addressing a press briefing yesterday during a tour with the Colombian officials of coastal project sites which included Enterprise Beach, Welches Beach, the Rockley Breakwater, all in Christ Church; the Holetown Walkway in St. James, Cove Bay, St. Lucy and Pebbles Beach in St. Michael.

Today’s talks saw the Colombian delegates headed by Governor of San Andres, Old Providence and Santa Catalina Archipelago, Aury Guerrero Bowie, and Mayor of the Old Providence and Santa Catalina Municipality, Arturo Robinson, meeting with officials from the CZMU and the Ministry of Environment and Drainage at the CZMU offices in Bay Street, St. Michael.

Among the areas proposed for technical assistance for the country were in the area of shoreline stabilisation, and how Colombia should address issues of climate change and sea level related hazards in the future.

Dr. Inniss explained that once an agreement on the way forward was reached, the next step would be to determine which method of shoreline stabilisation would be used.

"There are different ways of shoreline stabilisation that have been tested across the world. Some islands try to use only vegetation, but at the level climate change adaptation is going right now, and sea level rise is occurring, vegetation alone will no longer do it. Once you recognise that, then you realise that it is not a solution that will work for us in the islands anymore," the Deputy Director pointed out.

The Colombian government first approached the CZMU just over a year ago for technical assistance, and has since benefitted from training by Dr. Inniss and project manager of the Coastal Infrastructure Programme, Antonio Rowe.


Project manager of the Coastal Risk Assessment and Management Programme, Antonio Rowe (left) talking with Colombian delegates about work done at the Rockley Beach, Christ Church. (C. Pitt/BGIS)

The visit, which concluded this afternoon, was a follow-up to that training to allow those involved in the process to have a first-hand look at the strides Barbados has made in mitigating its own coastal erosion issues.

Dr. Inniss stated that Colombia had a "good handle" on understanding the science of coastal zones, and was now at the stage of planning policy measures and putting the necessary legislation in place to support their efforts.

What is required now, Dr. Inniss said, was for Colombia to look at its systems and see what modifications needed to be made to protect its coastal zone.

The visit is in keeping with increasing demands on the CZMU by other countries for technical assistance in dealing with coastal erosion issues.

Dr. Inniss is also expected to go to Kiribati [pronounced Ku-ri-bas] and Tuvalu, both in the Pacific Ocean, next month to see what technical assistance could be given to aid these nations in light of their circumstances.

The two territories are presently experiencing the greatest level of climate change impacts across the globe, and are already asking countries to accommodate some of their citizens as portions of the coast are now under water with sea levels still continuing to rise.

Earlier this year, Prime Minister Freundel Stuart noted that Barbados was now a champion for coastal best practices at the regional and international levels as states across the globe sought technical assistance and advice from the country’s coastal experts.


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