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Updated every Friday.

Friday, April 27, 2018

April 27th

What happened this week?

Celebrating optimism on Earth Day 

Young boys stand next to a sign with a message against littering.Earth Day is celebrated on 22 April since 1970.  This international day reminds us about the interdependence between natural ecosystems and human life. It is a celebration of Earth’s biodiversity and a reminder that humanity’s future depends on how we care for our common planet. Earth Day brings us all together to think about our role in preserving nature and fighting climate change. With more and more events that show the dramatic consequences of climate change for life on Earth, there is a risk that people feel powerless to stop and reverse the deterioration of the environment. A wave of ‘climate fatalists’, those who believe we can do nothing to stop climate change, can have a major impact in discouraging action. However, a recent global survey conducted by research firm Ipsos shows that no more than 14 percent of people tend to be climate fatalists. On the other hand, the survey shows that a shocking number of them are young people... Read more

Interesting Facts

World Bank team undertakes rooftop inventory in Saint Lucia ahead of hurricane season

Earlier this month, the Department of Economic Development, Transport, and Civil Aviation through the Disaster Vulnerability Reduction Project (DVRP), hosted a World Bank mission comprising a Geographic Information System (GIS) Expert and a Drone Expert. The team was in Saint Lucia to undertake a rooftop inventory. Team member Sarah Antos, a Geographer stationed at the World Bank, revealed that the general assessment of roofs in the country is of paramount importance, given the forecast for stronger hurricanes due in large measure, to a change in the global climate. The team is to collect data both from the street view as well as drones and combine this kind of imagery to determine the integrity and the quality of the structure against strong winds while looking at the integrity and vulnerability of the roofs in particular... Read more    

Costa Rica Has A System To Measure Effective Fight Against Global Warming 

The National System of Metrics of Climate Change (Sistema Nacional de Métrica del Cambio Climático; Sinamecc) is the tool with which Costa Rica will begin to measure the effectiveness of its fight against global warming. It is a software that will store the information of all the initiatives implemented by the country, from different sectors, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, responsible for warming the atmosphere. Édgar Gutiérrez, Minister of Environment and Energy (Minae), said that this platform will have data on the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from companies and institutions... Read more     En español (Spanish) 

UNFCCC Outlines Lessons Learnt on NAPs, Caribbean Island States Launch National Adaptation Plans

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Secretariat has published a synthesis report, detailing progress, experience, best practices, lessons learned, gaps, needs and support provided and received in the process to formulate and implement national adaptation plans (NAPs). In related news, the Governments of Saint Lucia, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines launched their respective national plans to prepare their countries to climate change impacts by achieving their adaptation goals. Saint Lucia’s NAP addresses multiple sectors, including water, agriculture, fisheries, tourism, education and health, as well as infrastructure and spatial planning, and terrestrial, coastal and marine natural resource management. Saint Vincent and the Grenadines’ NAP priority sectors include agriculture, energy, fisheries, forestry, health, infrastructure, tourism, water and transport.
The report highlights the Integrative Framework for NAPs and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) being developed by the Least Developed Countries Expert Group (LEG), with the support of the NAP technical working group, to enable explicit consideration of how to contribute to addressing the SDGs through NAPs. It also underscores the role of integrative systems approaches in addressing the coherence and synergy of adaptation action at multiple scales and levels, considering relevant frameworks such as the SDGs and the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR)... Read more  Link to the synthesis report

Policy Developments and Outlook
Revised Multi-Hazard Early Warning Systems Checklist endorsed 

Revised Multi-Hazard Early Warning Systems Checklist endorsedDuring the 9th Meeting of the Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) of the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), members endorsed the Revised Multi-Hazard Early Warning Systems Checklist. The TAC participated in its annual meeting, which was held April 16-20 in St. Michael, Barbados. Following the TAC’s endorsement, the Checklist will be presented to the Management Committee of Council, for onward recommendation to the CDEMA Council for endorsement as an important tool to be pursued by CDEMA Participating States. The Multi-Hazard Early Warning System (MHEWS) Checklist is a practical tool consisting of major components and actions that national governments, community organizations and partners within and across all sectors can refer when developing or evaluating early warning systems. During her presentation, Alexcia Cooke, Regional Technical Coordinator, CDEMA, highlighted the development and adaptation process of the Checklist along with the benefits to be derived from its application. She indicated that the Checklist will be applied in 5 countries – Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Saint Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines under the project ‘‘Strengthening integrated early warning systems for more effective disaster risk reduction in the Caribbean through knowledge and tool transfer’... Read more  

Friday, April 20, 2018

April 20th

What happened this week?

New challenges for an evolving Earth Day 

Earth and handsApril 22 is now generally considered the world’s largest secular holiday, with the organizing group, the Earth Day Network, now expecting more than one-billion people in 192 countries to this year celebrate the now-annual event in locations across the continent and throughout the world. 
With heightened partisanship on environmental and other issues, Earth Day planners must broaden minorities' involvement in preparing for the 50th anniversary in a presidential election climate. By purposefully embracing potential intersections between environment and other social issues, Earth Day organizers on the national, state, and local level could perhaps better engage historically underrepresented communities, offering real incentives making Earth Day everyone’s day... Read more

Interesting Facts

Is Your City Ready for a Catastrophic Earthquake?: A QuickTake 

While cities differ greatly in their preparations, many in fault zones are moving more urgently to revisit disaster plans in the wake of Japan’s harrowing 2011 Tohoku earthquake, which spawned a tsunami that triggered a nuclear meltdown and killed more than 15,000 people. Los Angeles is requiring owners of about 13,500 wood-frame and 1,500 brittle concrete buildings to strengthen them against earthquakes, and San Francisco is requiring retrofits of wood-frame apartment buildings that house a total of more than 115,000 people. In Peru, where the capital city of Lima has a perilous combination of unsteady housing built atop unstable soil, the national civil-defense institute holds nationwide earthquake evacuation drills as critics warn of mass fatalities in a major temblor... Read more

After the Hurricane: America has let down its Puerto Rican citizens 

Six months after the disaster, over 50,000 have no electricity and San Juan is prone to daylong power cuts. The poor, whose tin-roofed shacks were most damaged by the storm, have found it especially hard to secure assistance. Of the nearly 1.2m applications FEMA has received for money to repair damaged houses, it has rejected 60% for lack of title deeds or because the shacks in question were built on stolen land or in contravention of building codes. The economic toll is enormous. Around 80% of the island’s agricultural crop was destroyed, including coffee and banana plantations that will take years to regrow. An estimated 10,000 firms, one in five of the total, remain closed, including a third of the island’s hotels. The government forecasts output will shrink by another 11% in the year to June 2018. A burst of growth should then follow—estimated at 8% over the following year—on the back of $35bn in federal assistance, an estimated $20bn in private-insurance payments and as Puerto Ricans dip into their savings to repair their houses. Yet even allowing for the effects of that growth, Puerto Rico and the nearby US Virgin Islands will by one estimate lose $47.5bn in output and employment equivalent to 332,000 people working for a year... Read more  

Experimental effects of climate messages vary geographically  

A study conducted by researchers from Yale, Cambridge, UCSB, and Utah State University demonstrates that a message about climate change can have different effects depending on geographical location. The research integrates the importance of public understanding of the scientific consensus on climate change and new techniques that can estimate public opinion at state and local levels. It was found that  experimental subjects’ perception of the degree of scientific consensus about climate change increased by about 16 percentage points nationally when presented with a simple, clear message: “97% of climate scientists have concluded that human-caused global warming is happening.” When this message treatment effect was down-scaled to state and local levels, several fossil fuel-producing parts of the country exhibited the strongest positive response, especially West Virginia, North Dakota, and Wyoming. The consensus message led to a convergence of perceptions about the scientific consensus among conservatives and liberals... Read more

Friday, April 13, 2018

April 13th

What happened this week?

Puerto Rico to get $18 billion from HUD for Hurricane Maria recovery.

Puerto Rico will receive about $18.5 billion from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development to repair and fortify houses, businesses and infrastructure wrecked by Hurricane Maria, the agency announced Tuesday. The US commonwealth will get about $10.2 billion to cover needs stemming from the disaster, plus $8.3 billion for "mitigation" activities, meant to protect it from future events. The money is meant to support disaster recovery, including rebuilding or redeveloping housing, repairing infrastructure and assisting businesses. Puerto Rico's allocation is part of nearly $28 billion that HUD will award to various places still struggling to recover from disasters that have struck since 2015... Read more     Read the press release

Interesting Facts

Can Nature Help Us Manage Risk in a Time of Growing Climate Extremes?

ImageUntil recently, most flood risk management interventions involved conventional engineering measures. These measures are sometimes referred to as “hard” engineering or “gray” infrastructure. Examples include building embankments, dams, levees, and channels to control flooding. Currently, nature-based solutions are gaining momentum as an approach to manage disaster risk given the wide range of benefits they can provide. Nature-based solutions can be completely “green” (i.e. consisting of only ecosystem elements) or “hybrid” (i.e. a combination of ecosystem elements and hard engineering approaches). A growing body of evidence demonstrates that such nature-based solutions can effectively and economically reduce risk and simultaneously create a broad value chain for other sectors, including tourism, environment and housing, and provide livelihoods for local communities. The capacity of mangroves to absorb carbon is also much higher than terrestrial ecosystems. The combination of economic, social and environmental benefits make green infrastructure an important solution for resilient coastal and urban landscapes... Read more   Link to Guidance document

Even duller disasters? How earlier finance can save lives in emergencies

 Authors based on previous World Bank work”  A previous version of this graph appeared in   Financial Protection Against Natural DisastersPutting in place the funding, systems, and plans before a disaster strikes can help dull the impact of disasters by enabling earlier, faster and more effective response and recovery. But would it be possible to make disasters even ‘duller’ by also releasing finance before a disaster strikes? UN Under Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs, Mark Lowcock, recently set out a compelling vision for how the humanitarian system can be improved. He argued that “disasters are predictable… we need to move from today’s approach where we watch disaster and tragedy build, gradually decide to respond, and then mobilize money and organisations to help, to an anticipatory approach, where we plan in advance for the next crises, putting the response plans and money for them before they arrive, and releasing the money and mobilizing the response agencies as soon as they are needed…” Read more  

Policy Developments and Outlook
Jamaica to Benefit from Four-Year Climate Change Project  

Jamaica is among three Caribbean islands to benefit from a four-year initiative that will help the country prioritize and invest in ecosystems that specifically reduce its risk of disasters related to climate change. The Dominican Republic and Grenada are the other two islands to benefit from the Resilient Islands by Design Project, which runs from 2017 to 2021. Funded by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety, the project is being led by The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). The objective of the project is to combine cutting-edge conservation science with the world’s leading expertise in disaster response to develop tools and test solutions that use nature to ensure protection of coastal communities in the Caribbean islands. These include the use of coral reef and mangroves, which can reduce wave energy and reduce wave height... Read more  

Friday, April 6, 2018

April 6th

What happened this week?

Dominican Republic welcomes the Regional Summit for Exchanging Innovative Experiences and Lessons Learned Regarding Disaster Risk Reduction 

 The Regional Summit for Exchanging Innovative Experiences and Lessons Learned Regarding Disaster Risk Reduction will be taking place on April 5th-6th, in Juan Dolio, Dominican Republic.
The coordination of this event is carried out by the National Emergency Commission through the Program for Strengthening the Organizational-Functional Structures of Disaster Risk Management in the Dominican Republic, funded by the European Union.
This summit edition, based on the “Exchange of Lessons Learned after the impact of Hurricanes Irma and María”, will help to identify and share experiences, good practices and relevant challenges at regional, national and local levels. With this, the Dominican State reinforces its commitment on promoting measures to strengthen disaster reduction management, reduce the impact of natural events and increase resilience.... Read more

Interesting Facts

Colorado State University hurricane researchers predict a slightly above-average Atlantic hurricane season in 2018

Hurricane EdouardThe CSU Tropical Meteorology Project team is predicting 14 named storms during the Atlantic hurricane season, which runs from June 1 to Nov. 30. Of those, researchers expect seven to become hurricanes and three to reach major hurricane strength (Saffir/Simpson category 3-4-5) with sustained winds of 111 miles per hour or greater.
The team predicts that 2018 hurricane activity will be about 135 percent of the average season. By comparison, 2017’s hurricane activity was about 245 percent of the average season. The 2017 season was most notable for Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, which devastated the United States and portions of the Caribbean... Read more     Link to full report

How to encourage more female staff in disaster response  

When a disaster strikes, surge staff are the first ones deployed to assess and implement what is most needed on the ground. While disasters can disproportionately affect women, they only make up 40 percent of surge staff according to research report conducted by ActionAid and CARE International last year. In particular regions, this can be significantly lower. For example, only 27 percent of surge staff deployed in Pakistan are female. A more gender-balanced staff could help response efforts be more inclusive for those affected and could help reduce incidents of sexual abuse in disaster response... Read more

Argentine farmers slammed by worst drought in years  

Argentina's worst drought in years which began in November, has caused big losses, reduced expectations of economic growth and raised concerns among farmers, government officials and experts in the world’s third-largest exporter of soybean and corn. President Mauricio Macri was counting on a near-record soy crop this year to boost economic growth to 3.5 percent in 2018. Instead, what is expected to be the poorest harvest in at least a decade has already cut growth forecasts by up to a percentage point... Read more