The Caribbean is well-placed for a vital role in a global climate services framework because of its deep-rooted culture of cooperation in disaster prevention and weather-related matters, according to Secretary General of the World Meteorological Organisation Michel Jarraud.
He spoke at the opening of the 50th session of the Caribbean Meteorological Council at the Grand Cayman Marriott Beach Resort recently.
“A country’s size does not matter. All have a role to play, as we need world-wide observations,” he said. “The Caribbean’s long history of weather cooperation is definitely an asset when it comes to engaging in climate services.”
He explained that climate services would be critical in offering short and long-term weather information to governments and the public in ways that will help to improve planning and government policy development.
However, Mr. Jarraud also identified challenges in the region.
“The Caribbean must focus of capacity-building, including maximising the use of technology and educating people to deliver climate services,” he said.
He said that the challenges entail creating forecasts and products tailor-made for each sector, in spite of the fact that the regional geography meant weather observation was sparse in some areas.
Coordinating Caribbean Meteorological Organisation Director Tyrone Sutherland also underscored the Caribbean’s interest in being part of the global framework for climate services.
Mr. Sutherland noted that post-CMC50, the region should have a clearer mandate on the way forward. He cited issues such as the need for more user-friendly public climate data, stronger regional meteorological education, and filling the radar gap.
In her address, Cayman’s Deputy Premier and Minister of District Administration, Lands and Agriculture Juliana O’Connor-Connolly recounted her Hurricane Paloma experience to emphasise the importance of timely data.
“If you think information is expensive, try ignorance,” she said.
“It is critical that we apply science to disseminating information in a quick and simple manner,” she added, confirming government’s commitment to a weather radar system in the Cayman Islands, the development of which is already underway.
She noted that when completed, it would mean an unbroken circle of regional radar coverage.
Speaking on behalf of the CARICOM Secretary General, Representative Garfield Barnwell pointed out that climate change and variability were already impacting the region, especially through flooding that has caused infrastructure damage in many countries.
He noted the need for adaptation measures and stronger cooperation in areas such as education and research and development, as well as for a new focus on public education and awareness.
Cayman Islands National Weather Service Director General Fred Sambula chaired the opening while the Montserrat’s Communications Minister Charles Kirnon gave the vote of thanks.