As the climate crisis moves from hypothetical to real, the global community is only starting to discover the myriad of impacts it is having. For various reasons, traditional approaches to gathering data do not produce the data and statistics that countries and international organisations need in order to tackle climate change. PARIS21’s “ecosystem” approach provides a framework that can help gather and analyse data across different entities and departments who do not have a systematic approach to collaboration. A number of Caribbean islands who are on the frontline of the climate crisis are eager to adopt this approach to data to improve their resilience and adapt to climate change.
Caribbean countries are disproportionately affected by the climate crisis
Over the last few years, the climate crisis has begun to manifest itself and it is clearer than ever that the impacts are not felt equally the world over; developing countries who tend to be lower emitters are disproportionately affected.
Countries in the Caribbean region, for example, and particularly small island developing states (SIDS), are already experiencing extensive coastal erosion, more frequent and severe tropical cyclones, sea-level rises, increasing temperatures and changing precipitation patterns damaging the population´s well-being.
These countries need urgent action to adapt to climate change and build resilient societies. National adaptation strategies and policies will determine how countries and their international partners act and how successful they are. These adaptation strategies and policies require quality data for identifying the most affected people, designing actions that consider their needs and priorities and monitoring their effectiveness.
Obtaining and co-ordinating climate change data is a challenge
Lack of co-ordination within the national statistical system and with the broader data ecosystem, including civil society, academia, and the private sector, established data-sharing protocols, sustained resources and strategic capacity development for climate change data are among the most pressing issues in the region.
Climate change information does not come from the usual surveys an NSO would do; NSOs have to get together with all the administrative bodies of government to get this information. Strengthening the NSS is the core to improving data on climate change
Carol Coy, Director General, Statistical Institute of Jamaica
Various countries in the Caribbean region are already working to strengthen the production and use of quality climate change data to inform their adaptation strategies and policies by developing environment and climate change statistical compendia and putting in place data platforms. Despite these efforts, development is sporadic and uneven, and critical challenges to maintain and further develop current initiatives remain.
Thanks to support from development partners, some countries have put in place national information systems that facilitate the sharing and access to environment and climate change data. However, as soon as the external financing ends, staff and the technical support in charge of keeping the system functioning start to vanish. Hence, countries end up with valuable systems that are not updated because of a lack of a long-term financing strategy: either national or other external resources or a combination of both.
In the regional seminar “Strengthening environment, climate change and disaster information in the Caribbean” organised by PARIS21 in collaboration with ECLAC, 19 participants from 13 Caribbean countries rated the collaboration among producers and users of climate change data in their country as poor or very poor.
Figure 1. How do countries rate the collaboration among producers and users of climate change data?
In terms of collaboration, even within the Department of Sustainable Development itself, you find that the division that deals with climate change may not always share the information on biodiversity; and those two areas very much overlap. So, we find that there needs to be greater synergy instead of people working in siloes.
Kate Wilson, Department of Sustainable Development, Saint Lucia
PARIS21 proposes a CCDE assessment framework that aims to help countries design a more strategic approach to capacity development by linking the national climate change data and capacity needs to financing initiatives. The climate change data action plan identifies smart objectives and concrete activities and can outline the cost to make climate change data available and usable by policy makers and other users. Participants from the regional seminar saw PARIS21´s CCDE assessment framework as a powerful mechanism for mobilising resources by linking the strategy to ongoing projects and using it to advocate for national funding.
Find out more about PARIS21's climate change data ecosystem approach