Roseau, Dominica: In recent years, it has become usual for storms to form before the Atlantic hurricane season officially begins. The majority of forecasters believe that this year’s season will also be above normal making it more dangerous for people living in the coastal areas, especially on the Lesser Antilles archipelago.
Part of the Windward Islands chain is the Commonwealth of Dominica, a small island that had been a victim of climate change and endured the wrath of climate change in the past years. Despite being small, the country is committed to becoming the world’s first climate-resilient country by building an infrastructure capable of withstanding natural disasters such as a category five hurricane. Not only that, Dominica preserves its natural assets while providing a sustainable platform for eco-tourism, business and globalisation.
The Dominica Climate Resilience Recovery Plan (CRRP) was established by the country under the requirements of the Climate Resilience Act of 2018 and boosts the National resilience Development Strategy of the country. The plan outlines a variety of initiatives, creates targets and specifies the resources needed to put resilience measures in place.
Dominica has pledged to reaffirm its commitment to becoming “carbon neutral” by 2030. This goal will be “achieved by 100 percent domestic renewable energy generation and an increase of protected forest areas to 67 percent of Dominica’s land mass.”
The plan was outlined by Climate Resilience Execution Agency for Dominica (CREAD) – chaired by the Prime Minister of Dominica, Roosevelt Skerrit. The aim is also to make the country a climate-resilient nation, implement projects within the Dominica Climate Resilience and Recovery Plan, among other things, and support government ministries in implementing climate-resilient policies and priority recovery projects, among other things.
According to the Resilience and Recovery plan, Dominica endeavours to become climate resilient by 2030 with targets of achieving following:
- 0 fatalities from extreme weather events.
- Increase protected forest areas to 67 percent of Dominica’s land mass to achieve carbon neutrality through 100 percent domestic renewable energy production.
- Around 90% of the housing stock is constructed or renovated to meet resilient building codes.
- Individuals residing in physically vulnerable areas are completely resettled.
- During and after a severe weather event, critical government and emergency services will operate at full capacity.
- After an extreme weather event, all key highways and bridges are open within three days.
- Within 7 days of an extreme weather event, 60% of the population has access to water and sanitation and 90% of the population has access to electricity.
- An extreme weather event should not cause more than 5% of schools and healthcare facilities to be seriously damaged or destroyed.
- Within 3 months of a significant weather catastrophe, 100 percent of telecommunications were restored.
- Increase coral reef coverage by 50% to sustain improved fish stocks while also protecting coastlines and the eco-tourism industry.
- 100% of national budgeting, rules in place and enforced, and a framework for measuring government performance based on resilience targets.
- 90% of the population can identify the pillars of resilience and at least one government-led initiative, with a particular focus on respect for people, the environment, and property.
- Seaports and airports are operational within one week of an extreme weather event.
Prime Minister of Dominica, Roosevelt Skerrit, quotes, “Realising that the resolve to rebuild must be fuelled by a strategy, a plan, and the requisite resources, my government has spared no effort to turn our vision into action.”
Dominica is not just talking or making plans; the government has shown its commitment to sustainable efforts as the country is constructing climate-resilient houses for people who were affected by Tropical Storm Erika and category 5 Hurricane Maria in 2015 and 2017, respectively.
The government has constructed over 1,100 concrete houses for Dominicans which can withstand any category 5 hurricanes. Prime Minister Skerrit led administration has also built 2 major hospitals in Roseau and Marigot for advanced healthcare.
Besides this, the government constructed healthcare centres in all cities for immediate or low to moderate medical assistance. 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.
CEO of CS Global Partners, Micha Rose Emmett said, “Dominica has taken an urgent action to combat climate change with the sustainable development goals projects, including new sustainable infrastructure to ensure durability against extreme natural disasters, banning single-use plastic, and encouraging eco-friendly habits.”
Micha Emmett says the Dominican government adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which includes the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
“Projects such as the geothermal energy plant are placing the Nature Isle ahead of the rest of the world in terms of combating climate change while also reducing the country’s dependency on imported fossil fuels,” Micha Emmett.
The Commonwealth of Dominica has already invested up to XCD 1.7 billion on key infrastructure and other projects since Hurricane Maria, putting the cost of being Climate Resilient by 2030 at XCD 8.2 – 9.8 billion.