Description of project

Participatory Three-Dimensional Modelling (P3DM) is a method that integrates local people’s spatial knowledge with data on elevation of the land and depth of the sea to produce scaled and geo-referenced relief models. It has a wide range of potential applications, from participatory watershed and protected area planning, to participatory climate change vulnerability assessment and planning. In 2012, the use of P3DM in participatory climate change vulnerability assessment was piloted by CANARI and a model was created of the entire island of Tobago. In the Caribbean region, where there is often an absence of location-specific scientific data, traditional and local knowledge can provide a sound source of information to advise on the ground action on climate change. In many instances, these actions often provide simple and effective solutions to specific local problems which may be applied or adapted for application at other locations throughout the region. The pilot project was funded via a grant from the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) and received additional financial support from the United Nations Development Programme Global Environment Facility Small Grants Programme (UNDP GEF SGP) through a small grant to the University of the West Indies (UWI). The Tobago House of Assembly (THA) also assisted with implementation of the project.


  • A model of Tobago was produced, including marine and terrestrial components, where residents of Tobago used their local knowledge to identify sites and resources that were vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and analysed how this would impact people. For example, steep slopes in north-east Tobago are vulnerable to landslides which cut off access to these communities. Coastal roads and other key infrastructure will be damaged by more intense weather patterns. Small farmers are already being impacted by changes in rainfall patterns. Increasing soil erosion and runoff will silt coastal waters and threaten small scale fishing. The model was presented to the local government and people of Tobago in a handover ceremony when stakeholders involved presented what are the key issues that need to be addressed to build resilience to climate change in Tobago. The 1:10,000-scale model (1.5x vertical exaggeration) covering an area of 1,152 sq. km. is on display at the public port facility in the main town of Scarborough in Tobago. This case study documents the process.


Key activities and results

  • A wide cross-section of residents of Tobago were engaged in the model building, including community leaders, fisherfolk, farmers, tourism entrepreneurs, non-government organisations (NGOs) and community- based organisations (CBOs), policy makers and resource managers in government agencies and 19 secondary school students and teachers from secondary schools. A stakeholder identification and analysis was conducted to identify residents with interests, rights and responsibilities in natural resource-based livelihoods who were targeted to participate in the various model building activities. A mobilisation plan guided activities from July to October 2012 including regional mobilisation meetings, featuring the project on the local radio station’s morning programme, and face to face visits with key stakeholders.
  • Twenty-two trainees from nine Caribbean countries (drawn from government, technical inter-governmental organisations, civil society, and academia) were trained in facilitation of P3DM processes. The training also included introduction of basic concepts on participatory approaches and facilitation, geographical information systems (GIS), participatory evaluation and participatory video. Trainees were exposed to range of interactive and creative facilitation methods, including visual representation, brainstorming, round robin, small group work, plenary discussion, individual reflection, role play, peer coaching, video, games, energisers, individual reflection and questioning. The trainees applied new knowledge and skills in to co-facilitate the three dimensional model making with the residents of Tobago and assisted with the building of the model. They captured footage each day and developed a participatory video to document their experience.
  • Twenty-seven Tobagonians also engaged in a two-day follow-up workshop, funded by a grant from the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany in Port of Spain. This project aimed to further build their understanding of the concept of climate change, further analyse lessons learned from the P3DM activity about the impacts of climate change on their livelihoods, further identify and examine their approaches to coping with the impacts of climate change and to create a plan for dealing with the impacts of climate change. This was documented in a Civil Society Agenda to address the impacts of climate change in Tobago.


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For more information, contact Nicole Leotaud, Executive Director [email protected]

See related work under CANARI’s Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction programme