For the last 2 days, the World Wildlife Fund has been hosting a climate workshop for Government agencies, and marine protected areas managers from Mexico, Belize, Guatemala and Honduras.
It’s called Climate-smarting Marine Protected Areas and Coastal Management in the Mesoamerican Reef. Its aim is to educate the authorities from these 4 countries on best practices for marine protected areas management and coastal development policies in the climate change era.
Scientists from NASA and the Columbia University were called upon to present their scientific data on climate change, and how it affects coastal communities. The experts also explored policy decisions they can make on issues like infrastructure, to make these communities more resilient to climate change.
This morning, we stopped by for day 2 of the workshop, and we got a few more specifics from the experts today:
Ryan Barlett - Representative, WWF
"This particular event is the inaugural workshop with all of our partners that are actually implementing on the ground working with local communities that live in and around protected areas in the 4 countries, in Guatemala, Honduras, Belize and Mexico. So this is a chance to bring in local information from contacts we are working with in those places which are local government institutions agencies to help us understand how communities are already affected by climate change. How they are dealing with costal erosion, increasingly intense storms, more extreme drought, high temperatures. How is that affecting their landscape and then ultimately what can we do about it. So we're also here with scientist from Columbia University in New York and Stanford in California that are going to help us do analysis to better understand how nature is changing and the benefits nature provided to those local communities changing because of climate change."
Manishka Demel - Researcher, Columbia University
"We at the center for climate systems research at Columbia University and we are collaborative entity with NASA, so we're working - scientist from both institutions are working together and our role in this project is to develop climate risk information and provide the climate science support for climate protected areas in the Mesoamerican region. We will be developing projections for sea level rise temperature, precipitation, sea surface temperatures and we already presented some drafts and we want to get feedback from stakeholders on what they require so that we can tailor that to their needs."
Christian Braneon - Scientist, NASA GISS
"At NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies we have our own climate model and extensive expertise using climate models from other centers around the world. So for this project we're actually helping stakeholders how to understand to interpret the outputs from the data so they can take action towards climate adaptation and resiliency and it's exciting for us because we want more folks around the world to use the data that our centers are producing as well as climate model output data that other centers produce."
"Everyone is dealing with coastal erosion challenges as the sea is rising, so we're seeing lost in beaches, loss of coastal habitat. We saw an example from Honduras on the Honduras and Guatemala border where there's actually a - the lost entirely a marker of the border to the sea even in just a few years, the tide has come on and changed that landscape very rapidly. That's one example; everybody is dealing with higher and higher temperatures, so hotter temperatures. More extreme storms, so we're seeing a lot of rain in very short periods that's causing floods in communities that they never saw before in the past."
The hope of the World Wildlife Fund is that these representatives will be able to take this knowledge back to their respective countries for more informed policy making on the effects of climate change.