After a four-year process, the Caribbean Institute for Meteorology and Hydrology (CIMH) has been officially designated as the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Regional Climate Centre (RCC) for the Caribbean.
The achievement is a critical step in the implementation of the United Nations (UN)-supported and WMO-led Global Framework for Climate Services (GFCS) which recognizes that climate information and associated services are critical for improving the livelihoods of many people around the world, especially those in Small Island Developing States (SIDS), Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and Developing Countries.
CIMH, based in Barbados, is an organ of the Caribbean Meteorological Organization (CMO). Its RCC designation makes it the first institution in North America, Central America and the Caribbean, and first Small Island Developing State, to host such a Centre.
WMO-designated RCCs generate and deliver regionally-focused climate information and prediction products as well as training and capacity building.
The RCC for the Caribbean will lead the development and distribution of the operational climate products, services and programmes delivered by CIMH including but not limited to long range (seasonal) forecasts, the Caribbean Climate Outlook Forum (CariCOF), the Caribbean Drought and Precipitation Monitoring Network (CDPMN), and sectoral focused climate bulletins among others.
The Centre will also provide training on the development and delivery of climate products and services to national level providers of climate information, as well as offer training to national and regional stakeholders on how to effectively interpret climate information and integrate it in their planning and decision-making activities.
"From the time that the region recognized the need for designating or developing Regional Climate Centres back in 2009, we knew that we had a candidate in the CIMH, since the CIMH had already been executing many of the activities of an RCC for the Member States of the CMO,” said Mr. Tyrone Sutherland, Coordinating Director of the CMO and Permanent Representative of the British Caribbean Territories with the WMO. “The establishment of a WMO RCC at CIMH was therefore envisioned to be seamless. Over the last few years, the CIMH has worked hard at improving its capabilities and widening its products and services, thereby placing it in a superb position as a WMO RCC to guide the execution of regional aspects of the GFCS, led by the WMO and partners in the UN system. The Caribbean region is extremely proud of the designation of the CIMH as a WMO RCC," he continued.
United States (U.S.) Ambassador to Barbados, the Eastern Caribbean and the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), Linda S. Taglialatela, welcomed the successful completion of the United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Programme for Building Regional Climate Capacity in the Caribbean (BRCCC Programme). The three-year project was executed by the WMO and implemented by the CIMH.
“These important achievements are interrelated because with U.S. government support, the CIMH met the rigorous requirements to be recognised as a WMO Regional Climate Centre. Specifically, WMO Regional Climate Centres, like the one here in Barbados, are Centres of Excellence that create regional climate services and products including long range forecasts, early warning systems and improved weather modeling capacity to help influence decision-making,” she explained.
Mr. Andrew Gittens, Chairman of the Board of Governors of the CIMH and Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Food, Fisheries and Water Resource Management of Barbados, lauded the CIMH for the range of critical services it provides to the region that improve the livelihoods of citizens.
“We are committed to continuing to provide support in the future despite the various challenges we may encounter,” Mr. Gittens affirmed. He also thanked the U.S. government for its support for the establishment of the Caribbean RCC through the BRCCC Programme.
The importance of the RCC in the region's adaptation to climate variability and change, and, by extension, the long-term sustainable development of the Caribbean, was also recognised at the ceremony.
“The Caribbean RCC is very focused on making its products and services more relevant and meaningful, not only to the NMHSs we support, but also to the socio-economic sectors that so often feel the impacts from our variable climate and its extremes,” said Adrian Trotman, Chief of Applied Meteorology and Climatology at CIMH.
CIMH Principal Dr. David Farrell explained that "the establishment of the Regional Climate Centre for the Caribbean represents a significant and important step in the region's journey toward building its resilience to the adverse impacts of climate change, increased climate variability and severe weather. Current and future products produced by the RCC will enable climate sensitive sectors and vulnerable communities to better assess their climate risks and improve their planning and decision-making processes to protect lives and livelihoods and sustain growth.”
The RCC’s role in helping the region’s agricultural and food security sector make risk-informed decisions was highlighted by Dr. Lystra Fletcher-Paul, Subregional Coordinator for the Caribbean at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). “The RCC can provide useful information such as forecasts to assist farmers to decide on the most appropriate crops and varieties of crops to plant, the planting date and whether to invest in irrigation and drainage. By making the right decisions, farmers will ensure that they have good yields which in turn will contribute to improved food security for their families and by extension for the country,” she stated.
Executive Director of the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), Mr. Ronald Jackson, also attended the launch event. He praised the CIMH for its accomplishment, which he said spoke to the “presence of vision” over the CIMH’s 50-year journey.
“One of the things that face all of us at regional institutions, which needs to be addressed in a real way, is the importance of the regional community taking up the mantle and the responsibility for going beyond the project and looking at sustainability and financing these particular investments so that they are sustained,” he said.
While U.S. government support for the RCC represents the most sizeable investment toward the implementation of the GFCS in the region, support has also been received from the Government of Canada through the Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC)-funded ‘Programme for Implementing the Global Framework for Climate Services (GFCS) at Regional and National Scales’ and the Caribbean Development Bank.