CCORAL: an online support system for climate resilient decision making in the Caribbean.

The Intra-ACP GCCA+ Programme supports the reinforcement of the Caribbean Climate Online Risk and Adaptation TooL (CCORAL), a web-based tool designed to help decision-makers and communities in the Caribbean integrate climate resilience into their planning, programming and processes.


No one can escape the risks associated with climate change. No matter the sector or the scene, the villain or the good, climate change impacts do not discriminate – nothing and no one is immune from its indisputable threats.


In the Caribbean, this is evident in the numerous stories of climate change impacts reported by a whole gamut of individuals ranging from farmers to fishers, homeowners to private investors, builders to sports personalities, public sector officials to divergent practitioners, and the list goes on.


In the meantime, drought, heavy rainfall episodes, storms and hurricanes, excessive heat, and vector-borne diseases are occurring with increasing frequency, making it imperative for all sectors of society to deepen their understanding of disaster risk mitigation. “This helps to reduce losses, exposure and vulnerability to climate change impacts,” says Keith Nichols, Head of Project Development and Management Unit (PDMU) at the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC). “We need to climate proof every single activity we undertake. Climate change does not discriminate against sectors, against persons, against ethnic groupings or religious backgrounds. Because of that, we need to embed a risk management ethos in the day-to-day management of everything we do – whether it is in a household, on a farm, in government related projects or programmes – everything is susceptible to the impacts of climate change.”


Nichols is passionate about climate risk management, not only because he has personal experience with related impacts but is all too familiar with the constant cycle of loss and damage around the region caused by the extreme weather events. For 5 years, he was the chief advocate and trainer of the Caribbean Climate Risk Online Adaptation Tool (CCORAL) – an online tool designed to screen the level of risks to climate change a project may encounter. Created specifically to permeate climate considerations into decision-making in the Caribbean, the tool is a risk management methodology, that promotes a regional approach to risk management, additionally supporting climate compatible development in the Caribbean.


CCORAL (Sea Coral), as it is popularly known was developed in collaboration with the Caribbean Development and Knowledge Network (CDKN). The CCCCC, recognizing the vulnerability of Caribbean States to climate change, and their innate weaknesses to integrate resilience strategies into development planning, designed the on-line tool in 2003 to help all sectors make climate resilient decisions.


The tool was rolled out in all CARICOM countries, with training in its use delivered to an estimated 800 stakeholders in CARICOM Member States, over a period of 5 years. “Everyone is being trained. We have done about 3 rounds of training across many countries and institutions”, Nichols noted.


The tool is accessible to all users, and is described as an instrument that helps assess, address, and analyse climate impact scenarios for small, medium, and large-scale projects. “It is designed as a user-friendly tool so anyone can use it.” I am aware that a chicken farmer in Grenada used it to evaluate the impact of climate change on his farm. This is proof that anyone, anywhere can use it,” Nichols stressed.


No doubt climate change affects everyone, therefore building climate resilience must include public awareness and advocacy activities that are wide reaching. The CCCCC hopes that a climate risk ethos will be embedded into decision making at all levels of Caribbean society. According to Nichols, “building resilience is about making choices that will help reduce climate change impacts on any activity, no matter what the activity is.” So far, the governments of Grenada and St Kitts and Nevis have embedded the CCORAL tool into decision-making requiring submissions to the Public Sector Investment Programme (PSIP) to be evaluated by CCORAL.


While budget restrictions are usually cited as a constraint to incorporating greater resilience into planning, construction, and implementation, according to Dr Mark Bynoe, Assistant Executive Director at the CCCCC, “the costs associated with recovery, restoration and rebuilding are usually greater than the cost of integrating resilience as a proactive measure.”  He too feels strongly that institutionalizing climate risk management into day-to-day operations results in savings for the Caribbean, both at the country level and the regional level. “Use of the tool enhances the capacity to implement the Paris Agreement, from the perspective of mainstreaming climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction” he declared.


In other words, we can rebound, build back better in a quick time if we adopt a resilience-building approach to all development.


Under the current Intra-ACP GCCA+ Project, the CCCCC plans to:


  1. Translate the tool into Spanish and French for the benefit of Cuba, Dominican Republic and Haiti;
  2. Continue to build capacity among the key national stakeholders; and
  3. Continue working with Caribbean states to incorporate and embed a climate risk management ethos into decision making.


The COVID 19 pandemic has forced the acceleration of the development of a virtual platform for training in the use of CCORAL.  The online course is at an advanced stage and its outline has been approved.  The CCCCC hopes to increase its advocacy across the region to achieve greater uptake.


Although the goalpost to achieve 100% climate compatibility is always shifting, CCCCC officials are steadfast about their intentions to make the Caribbean a climate resilient region. According to Nichols, “We are always going to be playing a catch-up game because the conditions are always changing. We are going to be impacted in ways that we don’t yet understand, for example, change in weather conditions are becoming more conducive for pathogens, so when it’s not COVID, it could be some other disease vector migrating northwards or migrating from elsewhere.”


Despite this, the senior officials are convinced that climate risk management tools such as CCORAL reduces stress, economic impact, drain on foreign exchange, loss of livelihoods and helps to build back better.

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Article written by Tecla Fontenard, Communications Specialist, CCCCC