The small island nations of the Caribbean are diverse, ranging from extremely poor countries such as Haiti, to middle income countries, such as Jamaica. However, they all share the challenge of addressing climate-related threats such as increasing frequency and intensity of storms; the risk of coastal submergence; and severe flooding. Dealing with the negative impacts of climate change is currently estimated to cost 11.3% of the annual gross domestic product (GDP) of Caribbean countries – according to the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (5Cs). This could double to 22% of GDP by mid-century.
Vulnerability is exacerbated because 60% of the Caribbean’s population lives within 1.5 km of the coast. The ability to enhance resilience is constrained by economic growth rates that have slowed dramatically, falling from 4.3% in the 1970s to just 0.9% since 2000. Reconstruction efforts following recent natural disasters and investment in the climate resilience of key infrastructure is impaired by high public debt, which in some cases reaches 100% of GDP. Climate related costs (e.g. impacts on the tourism industry) coupled with already vulnerable economies, are detrimental to the sustained growth and stability of the Caribbean region.
Despite these challenges, the governments of the region are committed to building climate resilient, low carbon economies. For the past seven years, CDKN has been working to support them.