Blueprint for Resilience: Transforming Bluefields into a Climate-Smart Coastal Community

The Bluefields Climate Smart and Resilient Settlement (BCSRS) is an initiative designed to transform Bluefields, a small coastal settlement in Westmoreland, Jamaica, into a model of climate resilience and sustainable urban development. This project is coordinated by Spatial Innovision Limited, Jamaica and is one of the nine pilot projects under the European Union- funded “Harnessing Innovative Technologies to Support Resilient Settlements on the Coastal Zones of the Caribbean” (HIT RESET Caribbean) project.  

The BCSRS project aims to: 

  1. Develop a community settlement risk management platform to integrate government entities, coastal development agencies, academics, and community leadership stakeholders. 
  2. Design and build a digital twin using modelling technology for use by development and planning agencies, private institutions, and the citizens of Bluefields. 

Climate change has significantly altered the interaction between human settlements and the natural environment. Bluefields, like many other coastal communities in the Caribbean, faces numerous challenges due to climate change, including increased intensity of hurricanes and tropical storms, frequent flooding and landslides, damage to homes and infrastructure, economic disruption, and environmental degradation.  

These challenges threaten the residents’ livelihoods, particularly those dependent on fishing and marine activities, and necessitate the development of disaster risk reduction strategies through innovative urban planning policies. 

The BCSRS aligns with ‘The New Urban Agenda,’ which promotes sustainable urban development. As a signatory to this agenda, Jamaica is committed to creating more resilient and inclusive cities. The project’s digital platform will empower residents, government entities, local enterprises, environmental agencies, and schools to enhance community resilience to natural disasters and climate change. By leveraging the digital twin model, the project aims to improve the spatial planning process for integrated coastal zone management in Bluefields. 

The Caribbean region has suffered significant losses due to the adverse effects of climate change and natural hazards. There is an urgent need to build resilience in vulnerable communities. The BCSRS project will address this by: 

  • Developing a community settlement risk management platform 
  • Promoting the integration of various stakeholders for informed policy-making 
  • Utilizing digital and modelling innovations for sustainable coastal development 
  • Designing a digital twin with geo-design modelling technology for proactive planning and disaster response 

The project will be implemented through the following steps: 

  1. Baseline Study: Conducting a comprehensive study to gather information from stakeholders and acquire additional data during workshops. 
  2. Design and Development: Creating the digital twin platform and a community engagement system. 
  3. Testing and Updating: Ensuring the functionality of the new digital and modelling innovations. 
  4. Policy Recommendations: Developing recommendations for improving national legal and policy frameworks. 
  5. Training Workshops: Educating development and planning agencies and citizens on utilizing the new technology. 
  6. Public-Private Partnership: Establishing partnerships to sustain and manage the digital twin model. 

Digital twins represent the cutting-edge in regional and urban planning and management. These platforms integrate 3D modelling of physical forms and the behaviour of human and natural systems. Using geo-design modelling approaches, digital twins facilitate spatial analysis and decision-making, ensuring that human activities suit their geographical context. 

This initiative is expected to enhance spatial planning processes in coastal settlements in South-West Jamaica that have had to adapt to climate change impacts.  Community members, government entities, local enterprises, environmental agencies, and schools can use the digital twin model for integrated coastal zone management in Bluefields. Moreover, this project aims to establish a public-private partnership to sustain and manage the digital twin model. 

The Bluefields Climate Smart and Resilient Settlement (BCSRS) is poised to set a new standard for climate resilience and sustainable urban development in Jamaica. By integrating advanced technologies and fostering collaboration among various stakeholders, the project will not only protect Bluefields from the adverse effects of climate change but also serve as a blueprint for other coastal communities in the Caribbean. 

Over the next two months, we will be sharing more information about several of our other third-party projects. Stay tuned!

This project aims to provide support for projects which develop innovations to increase resilience in coastal communities of the Caribbean, as well as strengthen institutions, national and local governments’ ability to leverage information and knowledge for policy amendments.