If I were to say to you “Carnival” “Trinidad and Tobago” “Buccoo Reef” in quick succession…you would follow me — because this makes sense, right? But what if I throw in “climate change adaptation”?! Now you may be lost. It is ok; I’ll explain.
With the increasing challenges that climate change is creating for our planet and the greenhouse gas emissions profiles for most of the countries worldwide, it seems clear that action has become a must; and with action comes innovation. If we don’t start tackling the impacts of climate change more creatively then we will not be able to overcome it. You know what they say: if you want to achieve different results you have to take different approaches. This is especially relevant for our Caribbean region, given its geographical location and features which makes it very vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.
This is what we, at the Climate Change and Sustainability Division of the IDB, are trying to do: take novel and innovative approaches to climate change adaptation. In collaboration with world-renowned Trinidadian artist Peter Minshall and The Cropper Foundation, a Trinidad and Tobago based NGO focusing on sustainable development policy and practice, the Bank is designing a program on “Piloting an Innovative Approach to Climate Change Adaptation in Tobago”. This program will utilize a Trinidad and Tobago Carnival inspired underwater sculpture installation designed by Mr. Minshall as an alternative attraction to the highly stressed and degraded Buccoo Reef, allowing it to naturally recover by shifting some of the visitors that would normally visit the reef to now go visit the sculpture park. The underwater sculptures will be combined with a water pollution study that will inform the design of interventions to limit the land-based pollution already affecting the reef. A trust fund will be established to collect income generated by the sculpture park and by the creative industries around it, in order to further finance adaptation interventions in Buccoo Reef as well as for the maintenance of the attraction itself, ensuring the continuation of this initiative.
Coral reefs provide many services for coastal communities:
- They provide an income to many families who depend on coastal tourism and/or fisheries as their livelihood.
- They provide protection for coastal assets and ecosystems acting as buffers against waves, storms and floods.
- They represent an invaluable benefit for places such as Tobago but they are at risk and it is of utmost importance to do what is in our hands to preserve them.
As Mr. Minsahll said in his own words: “Nature has served Man diligently since the beginning. Man has been less generous. I sincerely hope that Water Colours, a work of art by Man on Nature’s behalf, may help turn the tide at Buccoo. Water Colours will be a Carnival of the Sea. Never still. Glowing with the brilliant hues of the reef and moving with the vibrancy of the sea itself. This will be an installation that demands, by its very essence, to be seen, and at a glance to be celebratory of our own natural island selves—of us, in our annual Carnival, which is an ancient tradition, as old as the earth, as deep as the sea itself. A Celebration of Life.”