Climate Smart Cities: Grenada

+ Patrick Lamson-Hall

After five days of sand, sun, and windowless conference rooms, the NYU Marron Institute team has returned from its first field mission to Grenada. This mission is the beginning of our official engagement in Grenada under our new program with the Green Climate Fund (GCF) and the Government of Grenada - Climate Smart Cities: Grenada.

Discussing site locations in the Carenage, St. George’s.
Discussing site locations in the Carenage, St. George’s.

Grenada is a small island developing state (SIDS) with a unique culture and heritage. The country is aiming to become the first smart small state, and this project, with its focus on urban areas and on long-term resilience and adaptation, is seen as a key part of that effort.

Beach erosion in Grenville.
Beach erosion in Grenville.

NYU has a unique opportunity to impact the development trajectory of Grenada. Through this GCF project, we are developing proposals for 9 specific projects that will help protect the island from the impact of climate change, move Grenada closer to meeting its mandatory greenhouse gas reduction targets, and stimulate economic growth. The projects are focused on the city of St. George’s, the city of Grenville, and the parish of St. George. We are seeking to address the following within these areas:

  • Carenage - protection of heritage structures from sea level rise and storm surge
  • Southern Corridor - addressing traffic congestion, flooding, erosion, slippage, sea level rise, and alternative transportation.
  • Airport - protection against erosion and sea level rise
  • Sewage - finding ways to treat sewage outflows
  • Grenville - protecting residents from flooding, sea level rise, and storm surge
  • Greenhouse gas emissions - installing energy efficient public lighting, working with large consumers to reduce emissions, and upgrading efficiency of consumer appliances. We are supporting this effort by building a greenhouse gas emissions model protocol alongside Grenadian technical support.
  • Community development - working within communities to design local programs to protect and improve the watershed and ecosystem
  • Urban densification and climate resilient urban expansion - planning for the next 30 years of urban development in St. George
  • Capacity building - improving environmental education in secondary schools, ensuring technical training will provide workers to fill the green jobs that the program generates

Along the way, we will be building a greenhouse gas emissions model and a climate model, and training Grenadians in how to use and update these things.

This mission was a data gathering and relationship building exercise that took place over five days. The main modality was to hold meetings with identified stakeholders and actors in the public, private and non-profit sector. We were also lucky enough to spend half a day on site visits around the island.

We met with stakeholders in the public sector, including technical staff and political leaders, along with private sector leaders and representatives of non-profit groups. We also conducted site visits and gathered vital data that will allow us to construct a vision of what needs to be done - a vision we will share and discuss with our Grenadian colleagues. We also held a press conference and a public engagement session to begin engaging with the Grenadian public in this effort.

Getting feedback on the program at a public sector engagement meeting.
Getting feedback on the program at a public sector engagement meeting.

Our colleague German Camargo was able to stay in Grenada for 10 days. His program operates in smaller communities, and he spent his visit meeting members of local NGOs and CBOs, having homestays with local leaders, and exploring the sociological and economic interactions of communities with the St. George’s watershed.

German Camargo and Denyse Ogilvie, visiting local communities around the island.
German Camargo and Denyse Ogilvie, visiting local communities around the island.

The grant we’ve received is for the development of pre-feasibility proposals, and we will be conducting three collaborative workshops and two additional field visits over the next year. Proposals that demonstrate their potential and that garner enthusiasm and support within Grenada will then be put forth to receive feasibility funds from the GCF. The feasibility studies last an additional year and are used to seek implementation funds. Our hope is that all of these projects will move through to implementation, and that NYU will continue to work and guide the process.

Our philosophy on this work is one of local leadership and local empowerment. Thanks to the GCF, we have the ability to bring international expertise to Grenada. But international expertise alone is not enough to complete projects. Our role is to guide and support existing public sector technical staff, incorporating them into our teams as we co-create the proposals with the input and assistance of national leaders, the private sector and the public.

In this way, the process of proposal development will also be the process of capacity building for implementation. At the same time, we are building political and popular support for these proposals as they are developing. Ultimately, the projects we propose will be Grenadian projects - Grenadian designed, Grenadian led, and Grenadian championed.

We have assembled an outstanding group of international experts. Franco Montalto, a professor at Drexel University and a leading authority on the use of natural systems in wastewater management; Eric Rosenstein, the business partner of Franco Montalto, and managing partner of e-design dynamics, with expertise in international development of WASH infrastructure; Bill Solecki, a professor at CUNY Hunter College, author of IPCC AR4, AR5, SR15 and AR6, and one of the leading global experts on climate change; Erin Friedman, the graduate student of Bill Solecki, a scholar of development policy and disaster risk reduction in the Caribbean; Bill Rom, a medical doctor and public health expert; Simón Gaviria, former head of the DNP in Colombia and an expert on the implementation of greenhouse gas reduction projects; Katrina Wyman, a leading legal scholar in natural resources and property rights; Denny Abrams, an architect and real estate developer; German Camargo, a biologist and expert on the design of socially sustainable habitat and watershed management projects; myself, Patrick Lamson-Hall, an urban planner and the coordinator of the project; and Shlomo Angel, the head of our team, an expert in housing and urban development, and an esteemed scholar.

Our work is facilitated by an incredibly capable Grenadian team headed by Ambassador Dr. Angus Friday, a prominent diplomat and critical facilitator of international efforts to address climate change; Fitzroy James, an educator, leader and expert in the institutional and bureaucratic workings of Grenada; Denyse Ogilvie, a community activist and advocate; Jane Nurse, a researcher and consultant in sustainable behavior; and Jonelle Benjamin, providing outstanding administrative and logistical support to the team.

We are also excited to be working with Ruel Edwards, the National Designated Authority (NDA) and Director of Technical Cooperation in the Ministry of Finance; Jessica Jacob, Program Officer for the GCF in Latin America and the Caribbean; and Hon. Simon Stiell, Minister of the Ministry of Climate Resilience, the Environment, Forestry, Fisheries, Disaster Management, and Information.

After a press conference. Back row: Franco Montalto, German Camargo, Denyse Ogilvie, Eric Rothstein, Angus Friday, Erin Friedman, Fitzroy James. Seated: Patrick Lamson-Hall, Hon. Simon Stiell, Jessica Jacob.
After a press conference. Back row: Franco Montalto, German Camargo, Denyse Ogilvie, Eric Rothstein, Angus Friday, Erin Friedman, Fitzroy James. Seated: Patrick Lamson-Hall, Hon. Simon Stiell, Jessica Jacob.

We received a warm welcome in Grenada and will spend the next six weeks preparing for our first workshop in October, when we plan to work with our Grenadian colleagues to create draft proposals. More news to come as the project moves forward!

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