Adaptation To Climate Change In Mauritius Environmental Sciences Essay
|✅ Paper Type: Free Essay||✅ Subject: Environmental Sciences|
|✅ Wordcount: 3738 words||✅ Published: 1st Jan 2015|
Climate change has been the most debated environmental issue in the political ecology arena in the last two decades. After initiating global discussions in 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio, the United Nations established the Framework Convention in 1994 on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Subsequently, the Kyoto protocol was signed in 1997 by nations except the United States. Many rounds of negotiations have been going on to combat climate change since then.
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Among other problems resulting from climate change, sea temperature rise in addition to modifications in the intensity and extremes of precipitation patterns and storms are of great importance. Consequent floods and droughts as well as rises in sea level are affecting water quality and aggravating water pollution. “Observational records and climate projections provide abundant evidence that freshwater resources are vulnerable and have the potential to be strongly impacted by climate change, with wide-ranging consequences for human societies and ecosystems.”(Bates et al., 2008, p.3).
Mauritius forms part of the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) which are “among the least responsible for climate change” (UNFCCC, 2005, p.2.) but are more prone to suffer from its adverse effects. The UNFCC report also reveals that 60 per cent of the water supply for domestic, industrial and agricultural purposes in Mauritius comes from groundwater and boreholes found near the coast might be adversely impacted by saltwater intrusion (UNFCCC, 2005, p.17).
Current solutions to climate change impacts vary from mitigation, which implies reducing the level of human activities that cause climate change, to adaptation, namely by finding ways to lessen vulnerability and minimise harm caused by the impacts. While mitigation is the most suitable solution, it will not bring immediate results and adaptation is consequently a heavily discussed option.
As an institutional endeavour to handle adaptation to climate change in Mauritius, the government has an ongoing project under the Africa Adaptation Program, the ultimate goal being revision of policies and identification of adaptation measures for further implementation. However, for successful achievement of policy measures about adaptation to climate change, much public acceptance, understanding and participation is needed.
The aim of this research is an understanding and analysis of the perception of undergraduates in Mauritius regarding climate change and adaptation to it, principally with regard to the water resources sector. The findings are meant to help the ongoing governmental program of adaptation to climate change in Mauritius by exploring in particular the perception of young academics with regard to the water sector, identifying their preferred adaptation options and assessing their willingness of participation in implementing measures.
The threat from further global warming has catapulted the environment to the summit of the political agenda with climate change as a major concern. The environment envelops an extended range of inter-reliant troubles: flood, drought, desertification, water shortage, deforestation, storm surges, food and malnutrition, species extinction, human health, soil erosion and waste to name a few. As such, the link between the natural and social magnitude of environmental problems can be clearly made. The degree of impact of climate change upon different bionetwork and state economies will depend not only on the sensitivity of those systems to the problem, but also on their aptitude to climate change adaptation. Climate change in itself is a massive crisis and encapsulates several spheres such as impact on Food and Agriculture, Land usage for settlement, tourism, the fisheries sector, Human health, and water resources among others.
Water is indispensable to human life and many activities. Our climate, our biosphere and our socio-economic systems are interconnected in an intricate fashion, such that a change in any one of these induces a change in another. Anthropogenic climate change adds a major pressure to nations that are already tackling the issue of sustainable freshwater use. The challenges related to freshwater are: having too much water, having too little water, and having too much pollution. Each of these problems may be aggravated by climate change. For that reason, the correlation between climate change and water resources is of primary concern and significance. So far, water resource issues with respect to climate change have not been adequately tackled pertaining to policy formulations.
Consequently, adjusting to or dealing with climate change will become necessary in certain regions and for certain socioeconomic and ecological systems. The need for adaptation may be scaled by ever growing populations especially in areas susceptible to these extreme events. Adaptation now appears to emerge as a “new” potential solution to the climate change but is not always very comprehensive. From definitions, adaptation refers to adjustments in ecological, social, or economic systems in response to actual or expected climatic stimuli and their effects or impacts (IPCC, 2007). In other words, it refers to changes in normal processes, customary practices, and structures to restrain likely damages or to profit from opportunity related with climate change. It should be however highlighted that adaptation to environmental change is not a new concept. Our civilization has demonstrated throughout History a strong adaptation capability to different weather conditions and natural changes. This recent global and local issue of adaptation requires a scientific, economic, political, social and cultural approach and is a multifaceted situation that calls for understanding and recognition by all stakeholders, including decision-makers and the society in general.
The island of Mauritius forms part of the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) with special needs and concerns and is highly vulnerable to the adverse impacts of climate change. Human induced climate change such as global warming as well as natural disasters like tsunami and storms have a direct impact on the water resources of SIDS. Being categorized as high priority, freshwater quality and quantity in addition to management and planning demands urgent adaptation action and financial resources to support such action. (WGII TAR Chapter 17). According to the Least Developed Countries Fund (LDFC) established under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), countries should prepare and submit a National Adaptation Programme of Action (NAPA) which enumerates ranked priority adaptation activities and projects to facilitate the development of proposals for implementation. Under the Water Sector priority, SIDS which have already submitted their NAPA (as at September 2008) have been taken into consideration, to be able to derive similarities and consequent adaptation and mitigation actions to climate change planned by them. This will be used as a basis to analyse their applicability in Mauritius, which has not yet documented its NAPA. SIDS taken into consideration are :
In the region of Africa: Cape Verde, Comoros, Guinea Bissau, and Sao Tome e Principe
In the region of Asia and the Pacific: Kiribati, Maldives, Samoa, Tuvalu, Vanuatu
In the region of Latin America and the Carribean: Haiti
Analysis have resulted into specific key problem areas namely, the unavailability or limited availability of drinkable water due to changing weather conditions and the lack of proper infrastructures to manage and sustain water resources, the deterioration of the quality of potable water owing to several factors (for e.g. saline intrusion from sea level rise, soil erosion, unplanned sewerage development, bad waste water management amongst others in underground water sources), poor agricultural production and the negative effects on food security (for e.g production shortages, disruption in the vegetative growing, traditional irrigation methods etc) and other problem factors related to water specific to each SIDS (for example airports of Maldives suffered significant damages due to flooding in addition to impending threat of sea level rise, tsunami caused destruction of the poor sewerage systems, use of traditional sources of water for eg in Sao Tome e Principe)
Various global and SIDS adaptation options being either implemented or proposed and which can be considered for implementations in the local context are listed below:
Development of water harnessing, collection and storage infrastructures by building reservoirs and dams, encouraging use of individual water-saving devices and promoting safe rainwater harvesting through ground catchment and roof catchment systems,
Elaboration of decentralized management plans on water production and distribution infrastructures,
Elaboration and implementation of legislation and regulation, with practical modalities of application very defined,
Design and construction of suitable sewage treatment and disposal systems to safeguard water resources,
Establishing modeling maps and an information and monitoring system on water resources
Institutionalization of management system, with the purpose of putting in practice the national politics of the water resources,
Reducing leakage in supply systems,
Carrying out participatory research on the knowledge of traditional practices of adaptation to the variations of the water cycle.
As an institutional endeavour to handle adaptation to climate change in Mauritius, the government also has an ongoing documentation project under the Africa Adaptation Program, the ultimate goal being revision of policies and identification of adaptation measures for further implementation. However, according to Breton et al. (p.15), “political measures regarding climate change will require a certain degree of acceptance and public understanding to be able to be implemented”.
What is climate change in the eyes of the public? What do citizens believe can be done to lessen damages caused by adverse impacts? A study by Leiserowitz in 2007 on international public perception states that “social scientists have found that public risk perceptions strongly influence the way people respond to hazards” (p.1). Thus, comprehension of how the public perceives climate change and adaptation is a key element in directing the actions that enable both raising awareness and motivating behavioral changes in the population at large.
The study of public perception on climate change is of major importance nowadays, as Leiserowitz confirms “Since 1988, numerous public opinion polls have found that Americans, Europeans, and Japanese are increasingly aware of and concerned about global climate change and supportive of a wide range of mitigation and adaptation policies” (2007, p.3) and different international studies agree on the point that citizens concern for climate change is high.
If we look again at the study carried out by Leiserowitz, the conclusion is that “large majorities worldwide already believe that climate change is a very serious problem and are growing more concerned” (2007, p.34). Globescan (2000 cited in Leiserowitz 2007, p.29) adds that on rating the seriousness of eight environmental issues, water resources ranks first and the results of a survey of 34 countries “demonstrate very high levels of public concern about a wide range of environmental issues, from local problems like water and air pollution to global problems like ozone depletion and climate change”. In a new survey of 30 countries, Globescan (2001 cited in Leiserowitz 2007, p.11) also finds that “Worldwide, the potential impacts of climate change on human health were the single most cited, followed by drought and water shortages, species loss, and extreme weather events” whereby drought and water shortages hold a second place as being one possible impact most concerning people personally.
According to findings of another survey carried out on climate change belief in Britain (Poortinga et al., 2006, p.19) in 2005, an “overwhelming majority of respondents (91%) believe that the world’s climate is changing”. The survey concludes that a “clear majority of respondents (62%) also indicate that every possible action should be taken against climate change” (2006, p. 19), and almost half of the respondents “would be prepared to take part in a public discussion or hearing about climate change” (2006, p.13).
A study by Maddison in 2007 of the public perception of agriculturalists in 11 African countries regarding climate change mentions that “When temperatures change farmers â€¦ practice increased water conservation” (p. 2).
This research will be focusing on the perception of Mauritian university undergraduates on the topic of climate change and adaptation to it, particularly with regard to the water resources sector. The findings of the research would be made available to policy-makers to enable them to propose more practical, focused policies and measures and to deal with the priority level that academics give to adaptation. The background of the proposed study is of great interest because the university students will be required in the future to participate in the implementation of various adaptation and mitigation measures both as citizens and decision makers.
Aims and objectives
The aim of this research is an understanding and analysis of the perception of undergraduates in Mauritius regarding climate change and adaptation to it, principally with regard to the water resources sector. This research is meant to help an ongoing governmental program of adaptation to climate change in Mauritius by exploring in particular the issue of perception of young academics. Awareness of the perception of climate change and adaptation as well as attitudes and preferences of young academics in Mauritius can help in setting up adaptation priorities specific to the island. Fostering the involvement of young people can facilitate better design of guidelines to adapt to the concerns of the population and aid in producing more effective communication policies.
The objective of the study is to discover the view of the university students with regard to climate change and its associated events and whether they perceive implementation of any adaptation measure in the water resources sector to have taken place by now. Another objective will be to ascertain the preferences of those youngsters on the subject of adaptation and mitigation options with respect to the water resources area. The paper will also target to find out whether academic youngsters notice any obstruction to adaptation and will attempt to discover the proportion of youngsters that are aware of climate change but have not yet reacted. Matters considered would be whether they believe climate change to be a very serious problem, their extent of concern for climate change, their view on the duty of institutions to overcome barriers to adaptation, their level of knowledge and information and their preferences regarding different adaptation options. Their rating of seriousness of water resources compared to a range of environmental issues will also be assessed in addition to which extent they consider droughts and water shortages to be a personal concern. The research therefore endeavors to improve our understanding of the links between undergraduates’ perceptions on climate change and its impacts with regards to water-related issues on one hand, as well as adaptation and mitigation response options preferred by those youngsters, on the other hand. The research will also be carried out in an attempt to inform policymakers and stakeholders about the implications of climate change and climate change response options for water resources, in order to facilitate better design of guidelines to adapt to the concerns of the population and aid in producing more effective awareness campaigns and education policies if necessary.
List of hypotheses
Based on several researches that have been done at global level regarding the public perception of climate change and adaptation in the field of water resources, our first hypothesis for this study is that “large majorities worldwide already believe that climate change is a very serious problem and are growing more concerned” (Leiserowitz, 2007, p.34).
The second hypothesis of our study is that when rating the seriousness of a range of environmental issues, water resources problem is ranked first, as confirmed by the findings of the survey of 34 countries carried out by Globescan (2000 cited in Leiserowitz 2007, p.29).
The third hypothesis is based on the survey of 30 countries carried out by Globescan (2001 cited in Leiserowitz 2007, p.11) whereby among a list of possible impacts of climate change, drought and water shortages ranked first and second respectively, as being one most possible impact concerning people personally.
The study will be based on a structured questionnaire survey to be carried out at the University of Technology, Mauritius, and the University of Mauritius. The targeted respondents would include some 240 fulltime students, equally divided between each university. A batch of 60 undergraduates studying environment and sustainable development subjects at Level 1 will be selected, as well as a group of 60 level 1 students following other courses, as a pre-survey tactic. To get data on their level of knowledge, another set of level 3 students, 60 learning environment and sustainable development subjects and 60 studying other subjects will also be interrogated. The respondents will be selected considering gender equality and there will be no age limit, so long that the students are either at Level 1 or level 3 of their studies.
The questionnaire will be prepared by considering the significance of the knowledge of the academics and to ensure that our objectives will be met. The feedback form will be in English language, which undergraduates will have no difficulty to understand. The interviewers will assist the participants by discussing all questions in the survey document.
Survey questions will cover several topics linked to climate change and adaptation in the water resources sector, including:
Awareness of climate change and its associated events;
Awareness of adaptation measures that exist or can be proposed in the water sector;
Perception that implementation of any adaptation measure in the water resources sector has already occurred;
preferences regarding adaptation and mitigation options with respect to the water resources area;
perceived obstruction to adaptation;
Perception of the duty of institutions to overcome barriers to adaptation;
Perception on degree of availability of knowledge and information on the matter;
Degree of agreement to participate in public debates on the issue of water resources, and
Proportion of youngsters that are aware of climate change but have not yet reacted to that, including grounds for action and non action.
Open-ended questions will be used regarding grounds for action and non action as well as to gather any personal adaptation proposal not listed in the feedback form. The data obtained during the questionnaire survey will be summarized by making use of computer software for statistical analysis.
Benefits of the research
Policy-makers at the level of the State and local Government and local authorities will benefit from the findings of the research as they will be able to propose more practical, focused policies and measures which will help in solving the problem of adaptation to climate change in the water resources sector locally. The study will also help in setting up adaptation priorities specific to the island.
The Ministry of Renewable Energy and Public Utilities, the Central Water Authority and the Waste Water Management Authority will benefit from the findings of the study when drafting their policy document regarding water resource and its sustainable management.
The undergraduates themselves and the academic society in general would benefit from the findings which will indicate the priority level tertiary level students give to this question of adaptation in the field of water resources.
Fostering the involvement of young people can also facilitate better design of guidelines to adapt to the concerns of the whole population and aid in producing more effective communication policies, which will be advantageous to the general public.
The future generation would gain from the study as the findings would help the current generation in devising practical solutions which will foster sustainable development, given that adverse climate change impacts, if not mitigated, prevent a country from succeeding in the implementation of its sustainable development goals.
The duration of the project is of 12 weeks starting as from Saturday 13 March 2010 till the Saturday 29 May 2010. Figure 1 shows a Gantt chart that has been prepared in this respect to illustrate the project task duration against time. The Gantt chart allows up to date monitoring of the project at any point in time and should the project digress against final plan, remedial actions can thus be taken without delay.
Figure 1: Gantt chart for research project
Questionnaire distribution and Collection:
Miscellaneous costs (stationery and others)
Total costs estimates
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