Disaster risk management and the principles of climate change adaptation should feature heavily in planning, particularly for projects along the island???s coastline.
Acting Deputy Director of the Coastal Zone Management Unit (CZMU), Fabian Hinds, issued this word of caution recently to developers during a coastal tour to mark World Environment Day.
Pointing to a cliff at Foul Bay, St. Philip, where part of a property had broken off and fallen into the sea, Mr. Hinds stressed the importance of developers respecting the setback guidelines recommended by the CZMU to the Chief Town Planner.
???This site is an example of what can occur. The cliff is mostly limestone, and as the rain and sea water percolate, it would result in the breaking away of the limestone,??? he explained, indicating that part of the boundary wall of the property was also lost with a part of the cliff.
The Acting Deputy Director further outlined that setback guidelines for coastal stated that properties should be at least 10 meters away from the toe of the cliff and 30 meters away from the high water mark.
He said that at sites like Merricks and Skeetes Bay, St. Philip, there is a requirement of a setback of 50 meters, while possible developments by the Animal Flower Cave would require a 200 meter setback because of the numerous caves in the area.
Noting that other properties were also causing concern, Mr. Hinds said the CZMU wanted to ensure that from a national perspective, the island???s coastline was developed in a sustainable way, taking elements of disaster risk reduction into account.
He stressed that by taking disaster risk management into account from the start, it would put property owners in a better position to recover from disaster.
A failure to take these measures into consideration, Mr. Hinds warned, could result in significant damage, a longer period of recovery, and a costly rebuilding and refinancing exercise.
The coastal expert explained that Barbados, like other small island developing states, was facing challenges presented by climate change, rising sea levels, rising sea surface temperatures and an increase in storms.
Therefore, he stated, it was imperative that the island continue its efforts to return to a path of sustainability. Efforts undertaken to return the island along that path to date include work done on the Richard Haynes Boardwalk in Hastings, and at Welches, both in Christ Church; and the Holetown project in St. James.
He also reminded Barbadians that it was important that they play their part in this effort.