Key Findings from Suriname NCAP Project

Submitted by Sukaina Bharwani | published 25th Mar 2011 | last updated 30th Mar 2011

Adaptation Measures

The impact assessments and scenarios developed in the context of this project all confirm the findings and conclusions from previous studies that climate change will have serious impacts on the coastal zone and its sectors. In order to respond to these increasing threats, the project has developed an adaptation strategy for the most important districts of Paramaribo and Wanica. The proposed adaptation strategy consists of both adaptation measures that are part of common government policy and adaptation measures that constitute a specific response to the increased threat of climate change related hazards and impacts. In what follows, only an overview is given of those adaptation measures which were made in response to the increased threats from climate change related hazards and impacts.

The proposed adaptation strategy consists of three distinctive phases:

- Phase 1: 2008 to 2025, no extensive protection, no extensive development

- Phase 2: 2025 to 2060, implementation phase

- Phase 3: 2060 to 2100, fine tuning and monitoring

In the first phase the Government of Suriname will continue its activities regarding coastal zone and river bank management, whilst phase 2 will be characterized by implementation of the plan elaborated during phase 1. This will include among other things, stopping all developments and human activities north of the proposed dam, raising the vulnerable area to a status of protected area, continuing riverbank protection against the intruding water, and water management and implementation of spatial planning. Phase 3 is fine tuning and monitoring.

During phase 1 no-regret measures will be implemented along with protection measures, such as stopping further development in the northern parts of the study area and implementing further prevention measures against flooding. The coastal and riverbank protection measures in the existing inhabited areas will be maintained. Retreat will not be considered as a high priority option in this phase. In this phase a detailed adaptation strategy will be elaborated and specific action plans which are ready to implement will be developed.

During phase 2 the adaptation strategy and action plans, including the physical measures, will be implemented. The third and final phase will be focused on fine tuning and monitoring the implemented (physical) measures. For the development and implementation of the adaptation strategy and action plans a number of essential components need to be considered. Firstly, an enabling environment should be created for supporting the activities taking place in the context of the adaptation strategy. Secondly, a clear spatial plan needs to be developed defining the target use of specific areas. Finally, a number of key adaptation measures need to be considered in order to take early steps in the protection of crucial resources and economic activities in the coastal zone. The different components are discussed in more detail below.

Creating an enabling environment

The elaboration of the adaptation strategy and development of action plans will entail preparatory work in terms of:

• Development of necessary policies and laws;

• Establishment and strengthening of existing institutions and the creation of new supporting institutions (where necessary); and

• Establishment and elaboration of data collection and monitoring systems and increasing research activities and capacities.

It has been recognized that the creation of such an enabling environment will be a necessary condition for successfully implementing adaptation measures.

With regard to the development of necessary policies and laws, consideration should be given to already existing initiatives and documents. As Amatali (2008) has pointed out, important laws and regulations already exist, such as the Planning Act and Environmental Act. The problem is that these and other regulations are rarely enforced. Amatali has also suggested that the Draft Water Law needs to be updated and legislation needs to be put in place to regulate the use of the estuarine zone and natural riverbank (including mangrove vegetation) and to establish spatial planning and land-use policies.

In addition, existing institutions and agencies need to be strengthened and the co-operation between different institutions needs to be intensified and improved.

Data

Apart from developing policies and laws, and strengthening institutions and organizations, the successful implementation of a climate change adaptation strategy and action plan will also depend on the availability of good-quality data and information. The importance of valid data has been expressed many times during this and other projects. Lack of data prevents researchers from obtaining in-depth analysis. The purpose of data collection and analysis is to gain insight regarding the current developments in climate change and sea level rise, to identify trends, and to be able to forecast change for a longer period. The following types of data will need to be collected on a regular basis in order to develop consistent and reliable databases:

• Climatic data in the study area;

• Data on the water level in the sea and the lower courses of the Suriname and Saramacca Rivers and wetlands in the study area;

• Data on discharge, stream flow, waves, sedimentation and water quality regarding the water resources;

• Topographical data;

• Data on the dynamics of the coast, riverbanks and riverbeds.

Research capacities will also need to be increased in order to expand the relatively small pool of climate experts in the country. This can, for instance, be done by the establishment of a postgraduate course on climate change in Suriname. The Anton de Kom University will be an important partner in this.

Developing a spatial plan

One of the key elements in the development and implementation of a climate change strategy and action plan will be the development of a clear spatial plan for the districts of Paramaribo and Wanica. As has been mentioned before, building activities and land use changes in Suriname are still taking place more or less randomly and the districts of Paramaribo and Wanica have also been excluded from the list of MUMAs. This has already resulted in the degradation of large areas and uncontrolled building activities in areas vulnerable to flooding and sea level rise. Consequently, various authors have proposed specific planning measures in order to prevent further degradation and to restore the functions of the estuarine zone north of Paramaribo (see Teunissen, 2001). Proposed measures include:

- Immediately stopping the land issuance north of the northernmost ridge Suikerrits on which the Ocean Road is situated and being developed;

- Withdraw any issued land which is not being used, or if it is not being used as agreed;

- Take the following measures on other already issued land, that is in (proper) use: do not issue additional building permits and give incentives to ensure that:

• mangrove forests remain intact their re-establishment is promoted.

- Prepare a coastal management plan for the Paramaribo-Wanica coastal zone, focusing on coastal protection and considering climate change impacts, including sea level rise. These proposals have been discussed with officials in charge of MUMA management, but no further steps have been taken yet.

Apart from these specific measures, spatial planning will also require the development of designated zones for natural areas, housing and building, agriculture and industries. In terms of climate change adaptation, the delineation and preservation of natural coastal areas will be particularly important because of the protective role they can play in mitigating the effects of sea level rise. Therefore, a rigid planning strategy will be needed that will ensure the protection of valuable natural zones in the coastal area.

Key Adaptation Measures

 

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