Last month, the CityLinks team travelled to La Ceiba, Honduras for the first exchange trip of the La Ceiba – Somerville Climate Change Partnership. Assistant Program Manager Catalina Gutierrez was joined by Oliver Sellers-Garcia, Coordinator of Sustainability and Environment for Somerville, Massachusetts, and Dr. Erika Tenorio, a climate research scientist and water resources professor from Zamorano University in Tegucigalpa and member of the Urban Climate Change Research Network (UCCRN) to assess the climate challenges faced by this city.
Over the course of the week the team met with different city officials and members of the civil society. The team was also introduced to the mayor and the city council of La Ceiba during their weekly meeting.
Technical experts from the Environmental Department, the Municipal Emergency Committee and the Municipal Office of Water and Sanitation discussed their role and approach to climate change adaptation. Topics included an overview of the urban development scenario in La Ceiba, the current conditions of La Ceiba’s water sewage systems, and flooding scenarios.
Other civil society groups included the regional chapter for the National Chamber of Tourism, the Regional Documentation Centre of Environmental Information (CREDIA), and the Padre de Dios National Park Foundation. These groups are taking their own approach to climate change adaptation, such as creating an observatory for climate projections, working in mangrove restoration, and reaching out to the community to increase awareness around climate change.
The CityLinks team visited flooding points where some of the most vulnerable communities are located. Sellers-Garcia identified some key areas where Somerville could provide assistance, particularly with regard to localized flooding due to constrained infrastructure which is likely to be exacerbated by climate change. To supplement the city-to-city partnership, Dr. Tenorio, will be working on storm surge and flooding projections that will contribute to a final Land Use Plan.
The second exchange trip of the partnership will take place early in 2016.