The small island nation of the Commonwealth of Dominica is vulnerable to climate change. The situation has become increasingly volatile with the growing frequency and severity of extreme climate events. To address this, the country has articulated a bold and unparalleled vision to become the world’s first Climate Resilient nation. In the aftermath of the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria in 2017, which ripped a catastrophic path of destruction through the island., resulting in the loss of lives and $1.2 billion in damage in just a few hours Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit addressed the 72nd United Nations General Assembly on September 23, 2017 declared Dominica an “international humanitarian emergency”. During his address, Prime Minister stated that Dominica will strongly come back and become a climate-resilient nation which would withstand natural catastrophic events, including a category-5 hurricane.
In 2018, Dominica released a climate resilience policy framework to guide its recovery journey in the form of the National Resilience Development Strategy 2030 (NRDS). The NRDS articulates the overall policy framework of the Government and outlines 43 resilience goals aimed at ensuring that development is people-centred.
Dominica’s Climate Resilience and Recovery Plan (CRRP) is an accompanying document to the NRDS. The NRDS stipulates that, at the highest level, the Climate Resilience and Recovery Plan (CRRP) should reflect three pillars of resilience, namely: (1) Climate Resilient Systems, (2) Prudent Disaster Risk Management Systems, and (3) Effective Disaster Response and Recovery. The CRRP operationalizes the NRDS by providing an outline that will guide the preparation of sector strategies and plans. As such the objective of the Climate Resilience and Recovery Plan is to translate Dominica’s vision to “build the first climate resilient nation in the world” into a concrete set of actions. It elaborates the objectives and strategies in the NRDS into specific initiatives and activities that will involve implementing and donor agencies, stakeholders in the public and private sectors and the population at large. The NRDS specifies forty-three (43) targets that must be achieved if Dominica is to become the first climate resilient nation in the world.
The Government of Dominica is committed to achieving 20 Climate Resilience Targets by 2030: 1) fatalities from extreme weather events 2) Communities able to operate independently for 15 days post extreme weather event 3) 90% of housing stock built or retrofitted to resilient building codes 4. Individuals able to revert to basic living standards within four days 5)100% resettlement of individuals living in physically vulnerable locations 6) Less than 5% of gross domestic product (GDP) in losses related to an extreme weather event 7) Less than 50% agriculture and fisheries losses as a percentage of total losses 8) 100% functioning of critical Government and emergency services during and after an extreme climatic event 9) Seaports and airports functioning within one week of an extreme weather event 10) Sustained, sustainable and inclusive growth of minimum 5% achieved 11) 100% primary roads and bridges open within 3 days of an extreme weather event 12) 60% of the population with access to water and sanitation within 7 days of an extreme weather event 13) 90% of the population with access to power within 3 days of a climatic event 14) No more than 5% of schools and healthcare facilities severely damaged or destroyed by an extreme weather event 15) 100% of telecommunications restored within 3 months of an extreme weather event 16) 100% of national budgeting, policies in place and enforced, and Government performance measurement framework informed by resilience targets 17) 90% of the population able to identify the pillars of resilience and at least one measure undertaken by the Government, with specific focus on respect for people, planet and property; and law and order maintained following significant disasters 18) 60% of agricultural land cultivated organically, supporting environmental protection and the sustainable development agenda 19) 50% increase healthy coral reef coverage to support increased fish stocks, and protect coastlines and the eco-tourism industry 20) Becoming carbon neutral through 100% domestic renewable energy production, and an increase of protected forest areas to 67% of Dominica’s land mass.
The Dominican government is successfully implementing this strategy. The government has constructed over 1,100 concrete houses for Dominicans which can withstand any category 5 hurricanes. The government has also constructed healthcare centres in all cities for immediate or low to moderate medical assistance. Further, Dominica is already advancing the education infrastructure by building climate-resilient schools and shelters in the country to provide safety in the period of climate emergency.
Photo Credit : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prime_Minister_of_Dominica#/media/File:RooseveltSkerrit.jpg