The Programme for Building Regional Climate Capacity in the Caribbean (BRCCC) was established to facilitate the development of the World Meteorological Organization’s Regional Climate Centre (RCC) for the Caribbean to be housed at the Caribbean Institute for Meteorology and Hydrology (CIMH) through: (i) infrastructure development, (ii) increasing the range of products and services delivered to stakeholders, (iii) enhancement of human and technical capacities at CIMH and in National Meteorological and Hydrological Services in the Caribbean, and (iv) improvement of service delivery mechanisms to national, regional and international stakeholders.

It is expected that the programme will improve the range of climate related products and services that will be available at the appropriate spatio-temporal scales, to decision-makers for effective decision-making in the Caribbean. This will ultimately result in the support of sustainable development of the Caribbean region.

This project was established out of a need to:

  • Enhance capacity at the CIMH and across the Caribbean to effectively convert climate data to products and services to better inform decision-making in key climate-sensitive sectors;
  • Enhance CIMH climate monitoring and forecasting, feeding into early-warning systems, and improve data acquisition networks across the Caribbean;
  • Establish the Caribbean Environmental and Climate Computational Centre to provide CIMH staff and regional scientists with the necessary resources to simulate regional environmental and climate processes to better inform regional decision making in areas of disaster risk reduction, water resources management and adaptation to climate change and increasing climate variability;
  • Enhance the infrastructure at CIMH to enable it to sustain its core activities as well as the activities envisioned as an RCC under the Global Framework for Climate Services (GFCS);
  • Initiate a “greening” programme at CIMH.

Climate change and increasing climate variability and their potential impacts have boosted society’s demand for tailored climate products and services. It was therefore important to request assistance to enable CIMH to further develop its research, development and training capacities in the pursuit of recognition as the World Meteorological Organization Regional Climate Centre (WMO RCC) for Caribbean Small Island Developing States (SIDS).  WMO RCCs are Centres of Excellence (CoE) identified in the GFCS that create regional climate services and products including long-range forecasts in support of regional and national climate information needs. This information builds the capacity of WMO Member States in the regions covered by the RCC to deliver better climate services to national and regional users. Currently, the WMO through the GFCS will target the delivery of critical climate services and products to socio-economic sectors such as agriculture, water, health and disaster risk reduction.

The delivery of critical climate services related to climate change and climate variability in a sustained timely manner requires computational power, model research and know-how, IT expertise, interpretation capabilities and national, regional and international collaborations. With its current resources, essential climate services to Caribbean SIDS, especially those associated with the Caribbean Meteorological Organization (CMO), through a range of collaborations and partnerships. However, the Services provided can be greatly enhanced to satisfy the needs of the region. Through structured investments to build its capacity, the CIMH will be able to significantly expand and enhance the range of climate services it provides to stakeholders in the Caribbean.

Currently, CIMH provides information through a range of products that include, inter alia,  drought and rainfall monitoring and forecasts under the Caribbean Drought and Precipitation Monitoring Network (CDPMN), rainfall and temperature forecast as supported by Caribbean Climate Outlook Forum (CariCOF), and regional scale agro-climatic bulletin for the farming and wider agriculture communities.

Very important to its progress toward more significantly satisfying the needs of the region, CIMH is pursuing tailoring its products and services for better uptake by the key climate-sensitive sectors to support their decision-making and planning.

Achieving the status of an RCC will reaffirm and enhance CIMH’s role as a leader in the provision of weather and climate information in the region, and will enable CIMH to provide support across the region, to national governments and to implementing partners in USAID’s regional climate program.

Further, one of the main concerns of Climate Change in the Caribbean, is the potential increasing impact of extreme weather and climate events. Increasing extremes such as droughts and floods, tropical cyclones and heat waves, some of the very elements that define climate variability, have been shown will increase losses in Caribbean Community (CARICOM) States to catastrophic proportions. A World Bank Report[1] indicated that cumulative annual impact of future climate change on all CARICOM Member and Associate Member States by 2080 will be about USD 11.2 billion or 11.3 percent of the projected annual GDP. The report suggests that the significant contributors to the future annual losses are expected to be direct losses due to climate-related disasters: (i) USD 2.6 billion due to wind damage; (ii) USD 363.2 million due to flood damage; (iii) USD 3.8 million due to drought; (iv) USD 447 million due to loss of tourism revenues. Information and early warning via well-defined and structured climate services, enables societies to adapt to already changing climates, and paves the way for enhanced resilience to further future climate change. According to the definition from the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction, early warning information such as that provided through the CariCOF process, enables ‘individuals, communities and organizations threatened by a hazard to prepare and to act appropriately and in sufficient time to reduce the possibility of harm or loss’. Creating a culture of the use of climate information, such as provided through RCCs, is often, therefore, seen as one of the first steps toward climate change adaptation.

The CIMH is the technical Organ of the Caribbean Meteorological Organization (CMO) which includes 16 Member States: Antigua and Barbuda, Anguilla, Barbados, St. Kitts and Nevis, Montserrat, The British Virgin Islands, Dominica, Saint Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Grenada, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, Belize, Jamaica, The Cayman Islands and The Turks and Caicos Islands. The objective of the CMO is, as stated in its mandate: “… the promotion and co-ordination of regional activities in the field of Meteorology and allied sciences.” As a result, this objective mandates that CIMH, being the technical organ of the CMO, promote and coordinate regional activities in the area of climate sciences.

The specific mandate of CIMH is to “assist in improving and developing the meteorological and hydrological services as well as providing the awareness of the benefits of meteorology and hydrology for the economic well being of the CIMH member states.  This is achieved through training, research, investigations, and the provision of related specialized services and advice.”

[1] Toba N (2009) Potential Economic Impacts of Climate Change in the Caribbean Community. LCR Sustainable Development Working Paper No. 32 World Bank, pp 35-47.