The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and The Nature Conservancy (TNC) are calling for governments to urgently invest in climate change adaptation measures to tackle the growing climate crisis in the Caribbean.
The call follows two key climate events—the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of Parties (COP26), and the 7th Regional Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction in the Americas and the Caribbean (RP21).
A joint statement issued by both organisations observes that in the Caribbean, storm events account for US$7 billion in losses in average per year (or US$135 billion between 1990 and 2008). Research indicates that 70% of people in the Caribbean live near the coast, where vulnerability to climate change is higher.
Studies also have shown that the impacts of climate change are unevenly weighted against the most underserved people—those who are the poorest, most exposed and have the least resources to withstand climate shocks and stresses. In addition, data from the IFRC’s World Disasters Report 2020 reveals that international climate and disaster risk reduction finance are not keeping pace with climate adaptation needs in low-income countries, and the countries with the very highest risk and lowest adaptive capacities are not being prioritized. In fact, less than 1 US dollar per person was made available for climate adaptation funding in high vulnerability countries.
“The priority and focus should be the communities that are most exposed and vulnerable to climate risks and the Caribbean region has proven to be one of the most susceptible to climate-related disasters. Therefore, governments must ensure that all efforts and actions to address climate change must prioritize, and not leave behind, those most prone to its impacts,” said Velda Ferguson Dewsbury, IFRC Project Manager for the Resilient Islands by Design (RI) imitative in the Caribbean.
Red Cross societies are on the forefront of helping communities to prepare for, respond to, and recover from climate-related disasters and see, every day, the rising risks for vulnerable people. Through projects like the Resilient Islands, the IFRC in partnership with TNC, has been working with communities to help them find innovative, low-cost, and sustainable nature-based adaptation and risk reduction measures.
“Climate change isn’t a distant threat—it is happening now. We have all seen the visible impacts of climate change before our eyes such as more extreme weather and natural disasters, chronic drought and economic instability. While our work with the Red Cross is helping at-risk communities across the Caribbean to adapt to climate change, with the power of nature, we need more investments in these and other communities and we need joint actions from all relevant stakeholders,” said Eddy Silva, TNC RI Project Manager.
The IFRC and TNC are working with communities in the Dominican Republic, Grenada and Jamaica helping them protect and restore natural habitats, such as mangroves, that help reduce the impact of severe storms and floods. Studies indicate that up to 65% of the increase in projected economic losses due to climate change could be averted through timely adaptation to climate change. In addition, nature-based solutions to minimize climate change can reduce 37% of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.
Resilient Islands incorporates ecosystem-based disaster risk reduction (Eco-DRR) measures, that harness natural systems to prevent and reduce natural hazards and climate change impacts. For example, by protecting and supporting the growth of coral reefs that provide cost-effective natural barriers, protecting our coasts from waves, storms and floods, or by planting more mangrove trees, which grow roots that mitigate coastal erosion, provide food and other services, and serve as nurseries for a diversity of fish species. These actions help communities reduce their exposure to hazards by identifying and lessening their vulnerabilities while at the same time enhancing their livelihood sources, as well as building their capacities and resilience to prepare for and respond to emergencies.
The RI initiative aims to protect Caribbean people against the impacts of climate change not just by promoting the use of natural coastal and marine habitats to reduce risks, but also by helping governments, partners and communities implement sustainable development plans that prioritize nature. Resilient Islands is part of the International Climate Initiative (IKI). The Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) supports this initiative on the basis of a decision adopted by the German Bundestag.
IFRC is the world’s largest humanitarian network, comprising 192 National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies working to save lives and promote dignity around the world. www.ifrc.org – Facebook – Twitter – YouTube
TNC is the world’s largest nature organization, working to tackle climate change, protect land and water, provide food and water sustainably and build healthy cities.