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We must do things differently – climate change board

The recently appointed Board of the Climate Change Trust Fund said the territory must get in the habit of doing things differently if it is to better deal with natural disasters such as the August 7 tropical wave that resulted in widespread flooding and landslides.

“Building resilience to flooding will require us to do things differently, or in other words to ‘adapt’. Land development and building practices must be improved, natural and engineered drainage systems must be enhanced, and communities must be more aware and prepared to respond in a flood event,” said Edward Childs, chairman of the Board.

He further stated that, when sufficient money is built up in the Trust Fund, the Board will offer grants to eligible local applicants for implementing climate change adaptation and mitigation projects – including those aimed at improving flood resistance.

“The recent impacts of the flooding on 7th August on the community touched all of us on the Board. As we work over the next few years to become a major source of funding to reduce climate change impacts by increasing understanding, awareness, capacity and resilience on the ground, the Trust Fund stands ready to support projects – amongst others – focused on flood resilience, as flooding remains a major area of high cost vulnerability,” Childs further said.

His deputy, John Klein, explained that the recent flooding is one of the worst the territory has seen.

“That magnitude of rainfall in such a short window, dumping a range of 10 inches of rain in some areas to 15 inches in other areas on Tortola within 24 hours, is unprecedented for the Virgin Islands.”

“The August Monday flood produced in excess of 25 percent of our average annual rainfall in less than one day, and is a prime example of the type of untraditional and severe weather events that will likely plague the Virgin Islands more frequently as a result of climate change,” Klein added in a press release.

Climate change effectively is a large-scale, long-term shift in the planet’s weather patterns or average temperatures. The many effects include flooding.

The Climate Change Trust Fund, in the meantime, is an independent body that was established by law in 2015 to raise, manage, and administer funds to support local responses to climate change.

The Fund is governed by a nine-member Board of Trustees dominated by persons from the private sector and from non-government organizations.

The Board of the Fund was installed formally on July 17, 2017. According to the Board, it is working along with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Labour to put in place internationally required structures, and to raise money in order to secure the seed funding necessary to ‘open its doors’ as soon as is practical.

At its last meeting, the Trust Fund Board continued to work on the development of an operational manual – an essential instrument that will guide all operations of the Fund. The manual also is necessary for the Trust Fund to literally open its doors.

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