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Presentation of the Findings of the Vulnerability and Capacity Assessment Report and Handover Ceremony
Wednesday 3rd April, 2019
Hilton Trinidad and Conference Centre, Port of Spain
Speech of Ambassador Aad Biesebroek
Hon. Camille Robinson-Regis, Minister of Planning and Development (MPD)
Ms. Joanne Deoraj, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Planning and Development
Colleagues from diplomatic missions
Ladies and gentlemen,
It's a privilege and my pleasure to say a few words about the relationship between the European Union and Trinidad and Tobago over the past years on the occasion of the presentation of the Vulnerability and Capacity Assessment Report.
In the past, our relations primarily focussed on development cooperation and preferential access to Europe for certain commodities: Rice, sugar, rum, beef, bananas. Support the EU provided in the past includes a contribution to poverty reduction through the improvement of HIV/AIDS treatment and care leading to a reduction in mother to child transmission rates. We provided support to widen access to tertiary education increasing the enrolment rate by 46 percent. The EU supported the Government's Enabling Competitive Business Strategy to improve the ease of doing business, supporting business incubators and providing seed funding for promising projects.
Our support included the construction of the Frank Stockley Building at UWI, the Doppler weather radar station, part of the Sir Solomon Hochoy Highway, the Navet water reservoir and the Tacarigua indoor hockey field, among others. Support for the reform of the sugar sector is probably the intervention best known with most present here. We continue to promote culture and education and are a strong supporter of regional integration in the Caribbean.
Over the years we have seen a shift towards inclusion of political relations and addressing global issues while the preferential access regime has made place for the economic partnership agreement between CARIFORUM and the European Union. We discuss how we can strengthen our economic relations. Both in the international arena and locally are we discussing tax governance issues and we have common objectives to address money laundering and fight terrorism financing. We both understand the need to address illegal fishing to preserve the global fish stocks and to do this we need to work together to strengthen inspection, reporting and documenting of fish that is captured and landed. We agree on the need to fight criminality and to strengthen security in the region.
We are also aligned on the need to address climate change and together with EU member States and ACP States we successfully contributed to the conclusion of the Paris Agreement.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, brings me to the topic of today: The Environment:
Both the EU28 and T&T agreed under the Paris 2015 climate change agreement to reduce their respective environmentally harmful emissions and their ecological footprint. The average ecological footprint in EU countries and the ecological footprint in T&T, measured in global hectares per person, exceed the world-average biocapacity, which is the available biologically productive area and which is estimated at about 2.1 global hectares per person, by about 53% on average in the 28 EU countries and by about 73% in T&T (data taken from Wikipedia and the European Environmental Agency).
And both want to achieve this reduction while further raising the Human Development Index. This would mean a structural break or a reversal of trends if you like, since in the past both were highly positively correlated, meaning there was no increase in the HDI without an increase in the ecological footprint.
Against this background the EU provided environmental support to T&T under its different programmes, its thematic programmes, the regional programme and under the bilateral programme.
I am very pleased to announce that very recently - under our so-called Global Climate Change Alliance + (GCCA+) programme - the European Union approved a 4 million EURO, 4 years grant, to support renewable energy projects at Piarco Airport and in rural areas in T&T. I hope that we will be able to sign the related agreement with the Ministry of Planning and Development in the very near future.
Under the bilateral programme, the EU Delegation in Port of Spain agreed with the former Government an “Environment programme for T&T” which included a Technical Assistance project that delivered considerable training and a Climate Change Vulnerability and Risk Assessment for both islands, Trinidad and Tobago, which we are handing over today.
This assessment provides (i) a comprehensive picture of projected climate change impacts and (ii) facilitates decision-making on climate change risk management by key agencies.
Specifically, the assessment analysed seven priority sectors, which are Agriculture and food security, Water resources, Human health, Coastal resources and fisheries, Human settlements and infrastructure, Biodiversity, and the Financial Sector, and one separate study was performed for Tobago.
I believe it may have been particularly useful that this work was built on a number of workshops where stakeholders themselves agreed on priority policy interventions and developed an indicative budget which is considered by the Ministry of Finance. And training was performed on community climate change vulnerability, risk and capacity assessment with 30 different government and civil society organisations.
A manual was prepared that outlines the process and methodology for undertaking community climate change vulnerability, risk and capacity assessments that can be used to replicate such assessments in other vulnerable communities using persons that have been trained under the project.
Finally, a boundary survey of the Main Ridge Forest Reserve (MRFR) in Tobago was done, which not only helps to protect the water supply for Tobago but improved the capacity of the forestry division of the THA with regards to the Global Positioning System (GPS) technology and Geographic Information System (GIS) and hence in the working knowledge of GIS, and the GIS platform, and hence in modern ways to collect, standardise and use geographical data.
You will hear further details about the assessment and how the information therein can be utilised from the Ministry of Planning and Development. I, for one, already used the information to discuss opportunities for investment in water management in Port of Spain with the Ministry of Public Utilities. I am curious to find out what other avenues exist.
Thank you very much.