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Natural solutions for extreme weather events

In Cuba, 119 coastal settlements are projected to be at extreme risk from climate change by 2050 while 21 are predicted to disappear altogether by 2100. The most extreme climate change and sea-level rise (SLR) scenarios foresee the flooding of up to 5 696 km², affecting more than 1 million people living in more than 220 settlements.

 

Climate change presents a multi-sectoral risk to Cuba’s society and economy. However, damage to coastal settlements will have a particularly severe impact on women, who are typically the first to relocate in order to ensure adequate living conditions for their families.

 

The Sabana-Camagüey Archipelago in central Cuba has been hit especially hard by climate change due to more frequent hurricanes and tropical storms making landfall in this area. The archipelago is home to the largest cays system in the Greater Caribbean, making it extremely vulnerable to the projected high SLR (greater than 3 metres) along the coast, as well as increased coastal erosion and exposure to an average of four hurricanes per year.

 

To address these threats, the GCCA+ aims to increase coastal resilience through nature-based approaches that will offer sustainable solutions to coping with climate change mitigation and adaptation challenges.

 

The GCCA+ project, in Cuba, will introduce the opportunities, challenges, and success factors of nature-based solutions and present examples of good practice. In the proposed nature-based climate change mitigation, ecosystem services will be used to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and conserve and expand carbon sinks. Nature Based Solution for Adaptation (NbS) use or mimic natural processes to strengthen adaptation and mitigation to climate change. NbS may involve the conservation or rehabilitation of natural ecosystems and/or the improvement of natural processes in selected ecosystems. Its spatial scope goes from the microscale (building) to the macroscale (ecosystem, municipality). In NbS mitigation, ecosystem services (sustainable land use, forest conservation and reforestation) are used to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to conserve and expand carbon sinks.

 

“The GCCA+ project, in Cuba, will introduce the opportunities, challenges, and success factors of nature-based solutions and present examples of good practice.”

 

The goal of nature-based climate adaptation is to preserve ecosystem services that are necessary for human resilience to climate change. It also strives to reduce the impact of anticipated negative effects of climate change such as more intense rainfall, as well as more frequent floods, heat waves and droughts.

 

Both approaches will be adopted by the GCCA+ project, which seeks to increase the resilience of ecosystems and thereby stabilise the provisioning of important services including coastal and flood protection. It will also focus on soil fertility, air quality, carbon storage and the maintenance of beautiful landscapes.

 

Compared to technology-based solutions to climate challenges, nature-based solutions are often lower cost, longer lasting, and have multiple benefits for a variety of sectors and political goals.

 

The GCCA+ project in Cuba will showcase the multi-faceted advantages of nature-based solutions and will also explore issues such as project planning and financing.

 

Links: GCCA+ Review of Climate Issues: “Facing Extreme Climate Events”

 

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Helene Pans
Helene Pans
|
26 July 2019

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