Following the United Nations climate change negotiations in Bonn, Germany earlier this year the UNFCCC called on all stakeholders - including governments, non-governmental organisations, businesses, investors and citizens - to accelerate climate action by 2020.
Guatemala is one area hard-hit by climate change and One Banana, a sustainable grower, shipper and distributor of tropical fruit with operations in North America, South America and Europe, has stepped up its efforts to address climate change issues in its area of operations in the country.
In alliance with the local NGO Asociación del Trifinio Suroccidente (ASODITSO) and the Institute of Climate Change (ICC) in Guatemala, One Banana started a new Diploma course called 'Community adaptation to climate change'. More than 50 people are participating in the Diploma course including One Banana employees, community leaders of 12 communities and Municipal Firemen.
“These courses are part of a comprehensive programme of conservation of the environment and adaptation to climate change,” said Bernhard Roehrs, corporate director of One Banana. “We’re working hand-in-hand with local actors, government institutions and non-governmental organisations to achieve the UN SDGs on climate change.”
The first module of the Diploma covered integrated watershed management, a definition of climate change along with the development of a management plan for a basin. Three sessions were held by the ICC, which consisted of face-to-face classes, workshops and practical activities.
One of the effects of climate change in Guatemala is the heavy winter rains that cause flooding in rural areas. One Banana forged an alliance with the National Coordinator for Disaster Reduction (CONRED) and ASODITSO to re-accredit banana workers and community leaders from eleven communities of the departments of Quetzaltenango, San Marcos and Retalhuleu, as official members of COLRED. The aim is to provide them with the necessary tools and knowledge to respond to emergencies and natural disasters.
"It’s important to be organised and know how to act at the time of an emergency and I’m very grateful for this opportunity,” said one employee of Agroceite who lives in the Salinas I village in the municipality of La Blanca. “Almost no company invests money and time to do this kind of readiness training with the local people.”
"In recent times we’ve experienced many catastrophes and have not always been able to respond quickly,” said another participant, a school teacher from the Chiquirines School in the municipality of La Blanca, San Marcos. “What we learned today is essential."
Felino Sandoval, president of the ASODITSO addressed the participants at the closing ceremony. "We are ready for any incident that might happen this winter, such as a tropical storm,” said Sandoval. “I thank One Banana for making this possible and uniting our efforts to increase the knowledge and capacity of these communities.”