ST JOHN’S, Antigua – The Environmental Division is hoping that the establishment of environmental regulations will bring Antigua & Barbuda in line with international guidelines, as the country seeks millions of dollars to cope with the effect of climate change.
Chief Environment Officer Diann Black-Layne said a total of US $100 million is needed over the next decade to mitigate the degradation of the country’s beaches.
“We estimated that we will have to spend about US $10 million a year, for the next 10 years, for us to just cope with climate change,” she said.
As an example, Black-Layne said the rebuilding of beaches being eroded by rising sea levels would be an expensive undertaking.
“Dickenson Bay is eroding quickly. Sandals’ fencing has fallen into the sea and we are losing more beach every single day,” she said.
“To cope with that, we will have to extend the beach at least 60 or 70 feet back out into the ocean. To thrive we will have to extend it back to its original design which would be like 175 feet.”
Black-Layne said Antigua & Barbuda and other vulnerable small-island economies, as members of Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), are lobbying industrialised nations to pay for the damage climate change has caused.
She added while international grants are available, they do come with strings attached.
“The international community is saying, ‘we will think about paying for it under certain conditions. You as a country will have to put your house in order to make sure that you have the rules and regulations,’” she said.
Antigua currently gets about US $1 million in environment-related grants from the Global Environment Facility and other agencies. However, Black-Layne said there is more money available.
“Developing countries don’t have the financial enabling environment in place to get the monies and we have to meet very critical procurement guidelines in international fiduciary standards,” she said. “All of that has to be put in place to get that money in.”
The chief environment officer said the Environmental Management Act, expected to be brought before parliament in June, would aid in making the nation more eligible for international grants.
(More in today’s Daily OBSERVER)