24/04/2011 Adaptation to Climate Change Impacts in Sudan’s Red Sea Coastline:

PERSGA has convened two consecutive workshops, an awareness workshop and a technical training workshop in Port Sudan, Sudan over the period 24-26 April 2011. The underlying theme of the workshops was climate change and its potential impacts on the marine and coastal environment in the Red Sea State of the Sudan. These workshop was the first effort to address the issue of climate change in the Sudanese coastal region and was based on several months of advance planning on the agenda, presentations, and logistical efforts in the framework of implementing a demo project by PERSGA in collaboration with Sudan’s Higher Council for Environment and Natural Resources (HCENR) and the Red Sea State Ministry of Environment and Tourism PERSGA-HCENR

The training workshop was based on the approach recommended by the IPCC for assessing the vulnerability of coastal zones is known as the “common methodology.” Given that the workshop represented Sudan’s initial exploration of the issue with a broad stakeholder context, the common methodology was considered to be an important building block for future action and was integrated into the overall program as an important starting point. The common methodology, or a variation of it, has been used by several countries in producing the coastal vulnerability sections in First National Communications.

The IPCC’s Third Assessment Report (TAR) concluded that the Common Methodology as used by countries in their national communications has contributed to understanding the consequences of sea level rise and encouraged long-term thinking about coastal zones in the context of climate change. The TAR went on to suggest an expanded framework for sea level rise assessment that also examines resilience, resistance and adaptation aspects within linkages between the natural and socioeconomic systems. These additional dimensions were also incorporated into the workshop design.

The overall workshop goal was to increase awareness concerning the use and application of methods and tools for the assessment of coastal vulnerability to climate change and adaptation options. The workshop key intent was to strengthen national capacity regarding climate change vulnerability and adaptation assessments in advance of Sudan’s 3rd National Communication. The workshop had four main objectives. First, the presentations aimed to provide participants with a broad overview on climate change and of the major methods and tools that are currently available for conducting vulnerability and impact assessments for coastal regions. The specific areas of focus were the impacts of climate change on coastal infrastructure and marine ecosystems. Second, the workshop aimed to strengthen the capacity to conduct future climate change vulnerability and adaptation assessments by national teams in Sudan. Third, the agenda include case studies and working group exercises to provide participants with concrete examples of how to apply vulnerability assessment tools and methods as well as hands-on working group exercises. The final objective of the workshop was to see to promote a network of coastal vulnerability analysts within Sudan that could participate/contribute to implementation of the PERSGA Regional CC Adaptation Strategy in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden.

The workshop consisted of two parts, a public awareness workshop, involving high official from the state government and representatives of all the stakeholders in Port Sudan, held during the morning of April 24. This was followed by technical training of over 20 national scientists, engineers, planners that had been carefully pre-selected by the HCENR to represent as wide a technical stakeholder community as possible. The second part of the workshop took place from the afternoon of 24 April to noon on 26 April.

The workshop agenda sought to pursue comprehensive as opposed to a narrow focus on a particular methodology. That is, the workshop design aimed to provide a comprehensive overview of climate change issues, as well as the major methods and tools to conduct coastal and marine habitat vulnerability assessments. A subset of vulnerable systems was considered. These included marine ecosystems (coral reefs, mangroves, seagrasses, and fisheries), coastal erosion, and the built environment. The treatment of each of these vulnerable systems included presentations that summarized the scientific basis from an international perspective (i.e., synthesis of IPCC findings) as well local aspects that focused on Sudan’s Red Sea coastline. Finally, the training strategy emphasized hands-on working groups to apply the methods presented. Also, the sessions included opportunities for question/answer periods and one-on-one engagement with the technical resource team.

 

The workshop training team included 4 experts: Dr. William Dougherty (Climate Change Research Group, Stockholm Environment Institute) who focused on methods and tools available, as well as international perspectives based upon a synthesis of findings published by the IPCC’s technical assessment reports as well as information that has emerged since the publication of the last IPCC technical report in 2007.

 

In addition, there were several regional and local experts that offered valuable presentations and perspectives on the local context. These included Dr. Ahmed Khalil (CC program Regional Coordinator, PERSGA) who offered several presentations on the relevant climate change-related work of PERSGA in the Red Sea region including training on the use of the DIVA model; Dr. Moamar Eltayeb (Red Sea University), who offered a presentation on the vulnerability of coral reefs along the Red Sea adjacent to Sudan, and Dr. Ahmad Abdelaziz who offered a presentation on the vulnerability of the built environment in Port Sudan to climate change. Mr Nagmeldin Goutbi from the HCENR was very effective in moderating the question and answer period that followed each presentation.

There were also two talks offered by local officials. One of these talks was from the Police Chief of Port Sudan who addressed changes in Port Sudan to protect the local environment (i.e., outlawing the use of plastic bags). The other was by the State Minister for Environment, Tourism, and Wildlife at the closing session. Both talks were brief plenary addresses that were received very well by the participants.

At the conclusion of the workshop on Day #3, a plenary session was conducted that was moderated by Nagmeldin Goutbi from the HCENR to conduct a verbal evaluation (in Arabic) from participants concerning the extent to which the training met or did not meet expectations. Following this session, the author sought a briefing from Mr Goutbi about details of the feedback provided (this was necessary because the author’s Arabic-speaking abilities are quite limited). The list below provides a general summary of the author’s understanding of the major feedback provided by workshop participants.

  •   The training was useful for developing a current and standardized understanding to climate change vulnerability assessment and potential adaptation options. The IPCC’s common methodology was a helpful framework for thinking through the steps involved in a vulnerability assessment for the coastal zones of Sudan. It would be good if future trainings are implemented in order to build off what has been started in this initial workshop.
  •  The topics covered were useful for clearly setting out and helping participants understand the range of potential models and tools available. Some participants indicated that future trainings should focus on going deeper in certain methods as well as how to overcome some of the key data availability and quality challenges that currently exist.
  • The working group exercise was useful for facilitating discussion about climate change hazards and impacts that could affect the local Port Sudan context; Future trainings should seek to integrate more such working group exercises. Future small groups should also be devoted to hands-on training in the use of specific tools.
  • The workshop was helpful for raising awareness of developments in climate change vulnerability and adaptation assessment practice. The demonstration of the DIVA tool was of particular help in orienting participants to the availability of a practical tool that could be adapted to the Sudan context.

 

Recommendations for future work in the project: based on workshop discussions and the main findings, the following points are to be considered in the future project activities:

  • Integrate coastal zone vulnerability into the project proposal for the 3rd National Communication (TNC).
  • It is important to note that the feedback received from participants can be considered important stakeholder perspectives that could be folded into any self-assessment exercise to identify priorities for the Sudan TNC. Specifically, a focus on the Tokar region as one highly vulnerable to climatic variability could be a valuable case study for the implementation of suitable assessment methods and tools.
  •  Consider the development of a coastal zone vulnerability network to sustain the interest of the critical mass of expertise. Given the expected substantial length of time till the launch of the TNC process, it would be desirable to implement some kind of networking system to keep the range of participants updated and engaged on climate change issues in Sudan. At a minimum, this could take the form of an email list serve in which participants are sent regular IPCC updates regarding coastal zone assessment methods and tools. A more ambitious program could also involve periodic seminars in the Port Sudan region on coastal zone vulnerability issues (e.g., global monitoring of coral bleaching events).
  •  Detailed vulnerability assessment of land based coastal area resources (coastal vegetation, wildlife and water resources) are to be considered in future assessments. The first assessment has largely focused on marine key ecosystem and coastal built in environment.

The Regional Organization for the Conservation of the Environment in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden