REPORT: Achieving development resilient to climate change – A sourcebook for the Caribbean water sector

REPORT: Achieving development resilient to climate change – A sourcebook for the Caribbean water sector

The Caribbean is exposed to both current climate variability as well as future climate changes. The economic, social and environmental impacts experienced during recent climate hazards such as hurricanes, floods and droughts highlight the need for action to reduce risks to acceptable levels. The impacts of these hazards are likely to be most severe for poor and vulnerable communities which do not have the resources or adaptive capacity to prepare for such risks or to manage their effects.

Water is the primary medium through which climate change influences Earth’s ecosystem and thus the livelihood and well-being of societies (UN-Water, 2010). Water resources and water services are impacted by current climate variability through floods, droughts, hurricanes and other climate hazards. Because water resources and services both rely on other sectors (such as energy) and support other sectors (such as tourism), the impacts are complex and interdependent.

Impacts extend beyond the sphere of influence of the water sector and require cooperation between sectors in order to manage these interdependencies. The Implementation Plan for Regional Framework for Achieving Development Resilient to Climate Change (CCCCC, 2012) places water at the centre of efforts for climate resilience (see Figure i).

Climate change presents an additional challenge to planners and managers as it is likely to exacerbate existing hazards. Broad trends for the Caribbean based on climate model projections include: warmer temperatures, higher sea levels, reduced rainfall, and increased storm intensity. However, there remains large uncertainties in the scale of these changes and this presents a major challenge for long term planning. Further high level information on climate change projections for the Caribbean region is presented in Annex A.

Given these uncertainties, strategies are required which bring benefits under a wide range of future scenarios (referred to as no and low regret options) and which remain flexible to adapt to changes over time which are not well constrained at present.

Climate resilience is a relatively well established concept in the Caribbean, being the central theme of the Regional Framework for Achieving Development Resilient to Climate Change (CCCCC, 2009) and the accompanying Implementation Plan (CCCCC, 2012). The strategic vision of the regional framework is “a regional society and economy which is resilient to a changing climate”.

This Sourcebook has been developed to support implementation of the Regional Framework for Achieving Development Resilient to Climate Change, with a particular focus on the water sector

Photo: Joe Le Blanc via Flickr 

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