Dominica: world’s first climate-resilient nation?

Dominica is still on its quest to be the world’s first climate-resilient nation.


Dominica is on the front line of the war on climate change

It’s after two of the country’s most costly natural disasters struck in the span of two years (2015 and 2017) that Honourable Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit declared the country on ‘the front line of the war on climate change’ and announced plans to make Dominica the world’s first climate-resilient nation.

Dominica is one of the most disaster-vulnerable countries on Earth. Germanwatch’s Global Climate Risk Index cites two factors for Dominica: the impact of global warming on rising sea levels and the increase in the strength of hurricanes. Rising sea levels increase the risk of storm surges. Additionally, Dominica is at risk for earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, floods and landslides, and hurricanes.

“Our devastation is so complete that our recovery has to be total,” Prime Minister Skerrit said. “And so we have a unique opportunity to be an example to the world, an example of how an entire nation rebounds from disaster and how an entire nation can be climate resilient for the future.”

“We did not choose this opportunity. We did not wish it. Having had it thrust upon us, we have chosen actively and decisively to be that example to the world.”

The United Nations Development Programme’s ‘build back better’ approach was used in the restoration efforts in Dominica. This approach seeks to ensure resilience against future shocks and informs Government policy. Consequently, all new and renovated government infrastructure must be constructed or strengthened to meet the current standards for seismic and hurricane events, as well as incorporate green and renewable technology and energy.

Revisions to Dominica’s building code  mean only homes and buildings that can withstand natural disasters will be approved for construction.

Resilience in action

Resilience is a buzz word that permeates almost every conversation and conference on climate change. The Caribbean island of Dominica, with  just 70,000 residents, wants to redefine this term and has set a goal of becoming the first climate-resilient nation by 2030. The aim is to build resilience into every facet of society to ensure that the island remains habitable. The Island state is confronting climate change with the protection of ecosystems, erection of sea defenses as well as building resilience into infrastructure.

Pepukaye Bardouille, CEO at the Climate Resilience Execution Agency for Dominica, or CREAD emphasies that becoming resilient is also  about community engagement and strong communication.

“When I say resilience, it’s not about cleaning beaches. It’s about disaster management committees at your village level. It’s about making sure that people who aren’t generally included, be they disabled or elderly, are brought into the mainstream so they understand their rights and we understand their vulnerability,” said Bardouille.

“Yes, we’re implementing projects, but we’re also kind of changing mindsets and behaviors at the national level. And that is beginning to be visible,” Bardouille continued.

Resources at the ready

It can make a huge difference if awareness is partnered with the relevant resources. Especially if the plan is to be the world’s first climate-resilient nation. Thanks to the intentional changes Dominica has brought to their country, they are doing just that. Funding from the Dominica Citizenship by Investment (CBI) Programme plays a huge role in this movement.

Dominica has taken a multifaceted approach to ensure climate resilience. This includes a strong focus on ecotourism and investment in eco-resorts. In addition to funding conservation programmes – Dominica has also banned single-use plastic. The conservation programmes include the Mountain Chicken Recovery Programme and the Dominica Sperm Whale Project. Another goal is to be reliant on renewable energy by 2030.

One of the key measures to mainstream resilience is Dominica’s early warning system. This means to warn residents about approaching dangerous weather events, allows them to make life-saving preparations. Dominica’s unique system includes a grassroots approach of communication and support using traditional conch shells.

Three things Dominica is doing to ensure a climate-resilient future:

  1. Introducing eco-luxury resorts and sustainable practices
  2. The Climate Resilience Execution Agency for Dominica (CREAD)
  3. Dominica’s CBI and its contribution to their Sustainable Development Goals

Subsequently, Dominica’s actions are proving that they are serious about creating a climate-resilient future. It’s the perfect country for any discerning individual who is looking to invest in a climate-conscious country. Will it be enough to be the world’s first climate-resilient nation? We sure hope so!

Dominica’s Citizenship by Investment Programme has also, unsurprisingly, been ranked as the number one CBI initiative for six consecutive years by the CBI Index. If you’re interested in hearing more about Dominica Citizenship by Investment, and the numerous benefits it offers, we encourage you to speak to one of our specialists at your earliest convenience.