During a recent conference in St. Lucia, the Virgin Islands was hailed as a model for the region because of its work on a collaborative project designed to help prepare the Caribbean for climate change, according to government.

The VI’s efforts toward implementing the five-year Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States’ iLAND Resilience Project were featured at the project’s “closure conference” from April 25-26.

The territory achieved the “largest absorption of project funds” by any participating member state, using 16 percent of the total 10.6 million euro funding, according to Government Information Services.

It also had the largest portfolio of successfully implemented projects under the initiative, which is formally known as the Global Climate Change Alliance Project on Climate Change Adaptation and Sustainable Land Management in the Eastern Caribbean.

Successful efforts

VI work under the iLAND project included a boulder revetment along the shoreline in Cane Garden Bay, which was completed in July 2017.

Based on a coastal dynamics study, the structure was engineered to protect the road into CGB from storm surge associated with a Category Four hurricane and one-metre sea level rise, government explained.

The revetment subsequently withstood the unprecedented storm surge of Category Five Hurricane Irma and now serves as a regional model for coastal defence, according to GIS.

Other related projects included road drainage improvements in Cane Garden Bay and Brewers Bay.

The territory’s National Physical Development Plan, which was developed through the “enVIsion 2040” public consultation process, was also delivered under the project, according to government. The NPDP includes a series of land-use maps and policies designed to guide planning and development for the next 20 years.

The iLAND initiative also helped deliver the Climate Change Trust Fund operational manual; the draft Land and Marine Estate Policy; recommendations for implementing the revised OECS Building Codes and Building Guidelines; and a draft Environmental Management and Climate Change Bill, according to government, which did not say when these documents would be made public.

Additionally, the territory completed a hydrology and coastal dynamics study in CGB and Brewers Bay and additional project designs to address flooding and coastal erosion in those communities.

Equipment was also procured to retrofit the CGB sewage treatment plant, and a weather station and GPS devices were procured to enhance climate monitoring and data gathering efforts, according to government.

VI delegation

The conference was attended by representatives from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Labour, which served as the “project focal point” here, including Deputy Secretary Joseph Smith-Abbott and climate change officers Angela Burnett-Penn and Pearline George.

Representatives from implementing agencies also attended, including Haley Trott, the acting deputy secretary of the Ministry of Com- munications and Works; Navarro Donovan, acting director of the Public Works Department; and Chief Planner Gregory Adams, who heads the Town and Country Planning Department.

Consultants Dr. Cassander Titley-O’Neal and George de Bert Romilly, who were engaged under the project, also participated in the conference.