Dominica plans to be the world’s first climate resilient country

Dominica after Hurricane Maria: Image: Commonwealth Secretariat
Climate Change

Bloomberg reports on the steps Dominica is taking towards achieving climate resilience:

Eight months ago, Category 5 Hurricane Maria destroyed Dominica resident Simon Walsh’s roof and most of his walls. It also took a big bite out of his scuba-guide business. “I had no future to see,” he says. “We should never again be as desperate as we were on Sept. 18.”

The island, where Walsh has lived for two decades, was among the hardest-hit. Nine out of 10 buildings lost a roof. The World Bank estimated the total damage at $1.3 billion, or 224 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product.

Remarkably, though, less than a year later, there’s optimism in the air. In one of the Caribbean’s most ambitious comeback efforts, the tiny country (population: 73,543) is making a bid to be the world’s first climate-resilient nation.

“This is a survivability issue for us,” Dominica’s foreign minister, Francine Baron, told Bloomberg. “We need to incorporate resilience in everything that we do moving forward, from infrastructure to our economy to our social sectors.”

Enter the Climate Resilient Execution Agency for Dominica (Cread), conceived shortly after the storm by government officials, including Baron, as a task force to hurricane-proof the entire island. The government expects to appoint a chief executive and leadership team to the agency as soon as it gets parliamentary approval, likely in July. Cread’s first mission will be to determine best practices across every sector—roads, building codes, energy grids, water management—before enforcing them islandwide.

The government has already been collaborating with international organizations to establish some parameters ahead of Cread’s inauguration. Any roofs that are being rebuilt with aid from the government or major nonprofit groups are being reengineered according to United Nations Development Programme standards. The UNDP guidelines call for steeper roof angles to better withstand wind, for example, and for the use of screws rather than nails to strengthen frames. Building codes are being rewritten with the help of the Canadian government and the U.K.’s Department for International Development, as well. And the Dominica government is taking the first steps of burying utility cables, elevating bridges, and shifting to solar from generator power—all projects that Cread will see through to completion. If Dominica is successful, it will eventually be able to rebound from a Category 5 storm in a matter of weeks, not months or years.

Read more in the full article at Blooomberg.

Previously on Green Antilles: Post-hurricane, what does it mean to “build back better” in Dominica? and Briefing paper on ‘building back better’ in the Caribbean.

[Image: Commonwealth Secretariat]

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