University of The Bahamas Establishes the Climate Change Adaptation and Resilience Research Centre

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University of The Bahamas (UB) today announced the establishment of its Climate Change Adaptation and Resilience Research (CCARR) Centre. The announcement came as The Bahamas strives to rebound from Hurricane Dorian, one of the most destructive storms on record for the archipelago which caused an estimated $3.5 billion in damage.
The Centre will focus on research about the human dimensions of climate change from a small island developing state perspective. A fundamental part of its work will be to collaborate with public and private sector agencies on effective policy development and conduct education and outreach with the public and international organizations. The research on the human dimensions of this global threat from a SIDS point of view fills a critical niche as research on climate change has long been dominated by institutions in industrialized countries.

“Although we as small island developing states have contributed the least to global warming, we are unfortunately at the frontlines of experiencing the impacts of climate change,” said Director of the CCARR Centre Dr. Adelle Thomas. “Climate change threatens all aspects of life in islands, and indeed threatens the very existence of low-lying island nations such as The Bahamas.”

As a human-environment geographer, Dr. Thomas’ research focuses on adaptation, loss, damage and vulnerability of SIDS to this existential threat. Given this new climate reality, UB is playing a leading role in addressing climate change for the nation, the region and other global small island and coastal communities.

“University of The Bahamas will focus on how climate change directly and indirectly affects our communities and how we can best adapt to these extensive changes. Our research will focus on adaptation, loss, damage and comprehensive disaster risk management, three very important areas of research that have implications on how climate change is experienced by people. Loss and damage refers to the negative impacts of climate change, and this is an area where small
island states have been very active in the international policy arena. Having a specific research centre with a focus on loss and damage located in a small island developing state is incredibly powerful.

It shows that we are taking the lead in conducting research that is critical to our survival as small islands,” Dr. Thomas explained. Chair of the UB Board of Trustees Dr. Johnathan Rodgers noted, “One of the reasons why the Board of Trustees is so excited about this is because we believe that the CCARR Centre is so innovative that it will attract a multitude of students, scientists and researchers from around the
world. Already UB has received offers of interest and collaboration from many universities like Harvard, California Institute of Technology, University of Waterloo, Hamburg University, University of Bournemouth and University of the West Indies.” The United Nations has named climate change the defining issue of our time. With continued global warming, hurricanes are expected to intensify. A record-breaking storm, Dorian decimated communities, displaced thousands of people and caused grave socio-economic upheaval in Grand Bahama and Abaco. The devastation caused on the islands of Abaco and Grand Bahama has underscored the urgent need for effective and coordinated national action to address the extensive impacts of severe weather phenomenon like hurricanes, spawned by global warming.

In addition, climate change will result in an increase in slow-onset events, such as sea level rise, ocean acidification and rising temperatures. President of UB Dr. Rodney D. Smith reiterated the urgency of swift action.

“In the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian, it became even more clear that we in The Bahamas must find innovative ways to adapt to climate change for our survival. In particular, the need for sound research, specific to our islands, to inform how we adapt to climate change is evident,” he stated. According to Dean of Graduate Studies and Research Dr. Vikneswaran Nair, University of The Bahamas started to conceptualize the establishment of the CCARR Centre immediately after
Hurricane Dorian devastated Abaco and Grand Bahama. “We reached out to networks across the globe, mainly in North America, Europe and Asia. The initial interest we received was striking; universities and organizations have expressed keen support in developing capacity, infrastructure and funding,” Dr. Nair noted.

“The CCARR Centre will also be supported by the higher degree by research graduate programme that UB is planning to initiate during the Spring 2020 semester. This graduate programme will be focused
on critical research that is required for national development and supporting the global agenda.” The University has invited institutions which are interested in collaborations to contact Dr. Thomas at adelle.thomas@ub.edu.bs.

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