Monday, November 29, 2010

Caribbean Marine Atlas

The Coastal Zone of every Caribbean country from Bermuda to Suriname (an interesting geography question) and most Latin American ones is an important economic area. Many countries are of course particularly concerned about the effect of possible sea level rise due to Climate Change on their economic activity and their very survival.

The Caribbean Marine Atlas (CMA) Pilot Project began as a joint initiative of 9 countries in the Caribbean region including Barbados, Cuba, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Saint Lucia, Trinidad and Tobago, and Turks and Caicos Islands. The purpose of the CMA is to identify, collect and organize available geo-spatial datasets into an atlas of environmental themes for the Caribbean region as a support service to the sustainable development and integrated management of marine and coastal areas in the region. Clearly, this would serve the Caribbean well.

UNESCO's International Oceanographic Commission (IOC) has made available IOC Workshop Report No. 235, containing the reports of the 2010 CMA Review and Planning Workshop and the Saint Lucia Coastal Atlas Stakeholders Event.

The effort began in 2007, and one impression from the report is that it seems to be stumbling into the low wall of data - overlooked by higher decision-makers and those in charge of budgets and policies, but a wall to progress nonetheless - that characterises the Caribbean. A comparison between the Oregon Coastal Atlas and the CMA reveals the distance between the two efforts. Whilst the comparison may seem unfair, I do so to contrast the two data environments and their effect, and to ask the CMA and higher national and regional decision-makers whether the citizens of the Caribbean will ever truly have and benefit from the intended decision support tool?

No comments: