The communities selected for the ParCA project are:
- Nova Scotia’s south shore: Region of Queens Municipality and District of Shelburne, including the Town of Shelburne and Town of Lockeport
- The north shore of Prince Edward Island: Lennox Island to Savage Harbour
Why these sites?
According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the Caribbean is one of the regions most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Large knowledge gaps remain about the climate change risks faced by vulnerable groups and key economic sectors (tourism, fisheries) in the region, as well as how adaptation should proceed. ParCA’s research plan directly addresses several of the information priorities identified in the Caribbean Regional Research Diagnostic: Climate change and development research capacities and regional priorities in the Caribbean (PDF).
Atlantic Environment Ministers (2008) have recognized that Atlantic Canada communities are already experiencing the effects of climate change, and have identified a need for proactive strategies to climate-proof development decisions and foster collaborative engagement of regional stakeholders affected by adaptation imperatives.
The IPCC and the international community have identified small islands and coastal zones to be among the most vulnerable to climate change. Small and medium-sized communities, particularly those that rely economically on highly vulnerable resource sectors (e.g., fisheries) or service industries (e.g., coastal tourism) are thought to have lesser adaptive capacity and at higher risk to climate change. The challenges faced by small and medium sized communities in the Caribbean region are common to SIDS worldwide. In Atlantic Canada, communities are also experiencing the effects of climate change and governments have identified the need to climate proof development decisions through collaborative engagement of stakeholders affected by climate change.
Connections between the Caribbean and Atlantic Canada are particularly strong, and include academic partnerships, cultural linkages to coastal resources and shared trajectories of economic development. Notably, key drivers of economic prosperity in both regions include tourism (12% of GDP for the Caribbean, 25% and 30% GDP of Jamaica and Trinidad-Tobago respectively, 10% GDP of Prince Edward Island and a reliance on fishery and related marine resources (10% GDP for PEI and Nova Scotia, 5% GDP of Jamaica). Atlantic Canada and the Caribbean share a number of physical, economic and cultural characteristics that create climate change vulnerabilities, and similar opportunities and constraints to adaptation:
- Constraints include – a geography that exposes these communities to socio-economic impacts of climate change impacts, predominantly coastal societies and infrastructure, reliance on economies based on fragile natural resources (e.g., fisheries), relatively high unemployment, relative geographic isolation and related transportation-communication challenges, limited markets, overdependence on strategic imports, and Indigenous societies relying on a mix of traditional and modern ways of life;
- Strengths include – deeply-rooted connection of the people to their marine/coastal environment, local and traditional knowledge that is incorporated to varying degrees in daily life and decision-making, as well as a demonstrated ability to adapt to outside influences and perturbations over generations.
The selected communities in both regions can be considered barometers of climate change, where adaptation is not only about the long-range future, but also about reducing vulnerability to risks associated with current climate variability and extremes. As such, these communities represent critical testing grounds for adaptation, with a focus on economic sectors (i.e., fisheries and tourism) that are transboundary and essential to the livelihoods of coastal communities and islands worldwide. The ParCA analysis of data collected during interviews and research will be shared with community partners and efforts will be made to work with local agencies to develop climate change adaptation projects that meet the needs of the community.