Darwin Initiative

There is now comprehensible evidence on the effects of climate change at sea. The most frequent scenarios involve water temperature warming, sea level rise, ocean acidification, and coastal erosion, in addition to changes in animal behaviour and plant distribution. However, ordinary citizens in our developing countries are not fully aware of the threats and there is a lack of basic, easily understandable information to help them build up their own thoughts on what is not only an ongoing global and regional, but also, a local threat.

Whilst the threats need to be explained rationally, it is important also to express ideas about what positive aspects and actions can be highlighted. Given good forward planning, some activities such as fishing and coastal agriculture may benefit if communities are supported and encouraged by governments to adapt to changes as they occur; communities could gain positive outcomes from lobbying their governments to actively participate in international debates and negotiations to ensure benefits for their countries’ sustainable development (for example, making the best use of carbon trading schemes, more control over their own natural resources, etc.).

Our goals through the media campaign are to raise public awareness about climate change, influence key officials, and gain further support/funding. Initially we launched this campaign in Panama and depending on funding, implementing or adapting it to other countries across the region.

The campaign encompassed the following subjects:

  1. The effect of sea level rise on coastal areas, focused on the potential impact on infrastructures.

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  2. The effect of sea level rise on coastal areas, focused on the potential impact on coastal habitats with emphasis in turtle nesting areas, coral reefs and fisheries.

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  3. The effect of the increase in ocean acidification and the potential impact on marine organisms.

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  4. The effect of sea warming on the distribution, growth and productivity of sensitive ecosystems with emphasis in coral reefs.

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Copyright 2009 Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute and British Embassy.

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