“A small island is like a laboratory”

Sculptures under water

The underwater sculptures by artist Jason deCaires Taylor off the coast of Grenada address the dangers of climate change. Photo: AdobeStock/Richard30d

Islands like Grenada are particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change. The IKI project “Grenada – Pilot Programme for an Integrative Adaptation Strategy” has helped Grenada to increase its resilience. We have asked four questions to project manager Marion Geiss, Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, about the challenges and opportunities of working on a small island.

As an implementing organisation, GIZ is leading the pilot programme for an integrative adaptation strategy in Grenada. What is your role in this process?

Marion Geiss: We quickly realised that the technical know-how was available on the island. However, there is a lack of coordination between the various stakeholders dealing with climate mitigation. That’s where we started. The government identified twenty key players with clearly defined responsibilities and initiated a regular exchange of experience and knowledge during the project.

Why is Grenada particularly suitable for this type of model project?

A small island like Grenada is like a laboratory. The impact horizon is manageable, and any initiated changes quickly have a transformative effect. Direct communication with stakeholders is also easier.

Islands like Grenada are considered particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. How is such an island affected by climate change?

Marion GeissAlmost the entire economic and tourist infrastructure is located on the coast. Therefore, it is threatened by the rise in sea level and the related erosion of soils. Some beaches have already disappeared, and the incoming saltwater affects agriculture. The deforestation of mangrove forests in coastal areas is also a problem because mangroves offer natural protection against tropical storms and tsunamis. Besides, the rainy and dry seasons are more pronounced as a result of climate change, so that floods and droughts are becoming more extreme.

How can a project like Integrated Climate Change Adaptation Strategies, Grenada (ICCAS) help to meet these challenges?

We have achieved a great deal using the integrative approach. The project activities included the development of educational material to be used in schools and for adult education to raise awareness. Besides, the project contributed to the adoption of a National Adaptation Strategy. It also helped to implement specific measures including the reforestation of mangrove forests or the construction of a rainwater storage system. This system has a storage capacity of almost one million litres of water that can be piped to communities on the island. In many cases, the data required for the implementation of climate mitigation projects are not readily available. We have helped to close this gap by installing a monitoring system to document and track the condition of the coasts and beaches of the island.