Red Cross/ Red Crescent Climate Centre

New Red Cross research into climate-resilient development in Dominica

16/04/2021 - by Tommaso Natoli, UCC Cork

(A version of this story appeared first on the IFRC website for disaster law on Wednesday.)

A new report looking at how integrated law and policy can improve climate-resilient development in Dominica, has been published by the IFRC’s disaster law department in partnership with the University College Cork’s (UCC) School of Law.

The study, Integrating climate change adaption and disaster risk reduction laws and policies towards a climate-resilient development, focuses on how integrated and cross-sectoral regulatory frameworks can make action more effective and consistent in Dominica.

It underscores how policy-making in key governmental sectors is highly dependent on patterns of climate change and extreme-weather events, and aims at primarily – but not exclusively – supporting the standardization of this process in countries like Dominica that are geographically small and/or economically fragile.

Synergic combination

The study analyses the country’s experience while suggesting improvements for decision-makers willing to follow a similar path.

The main takeaway is that not only is a better-integrated legal framework critical to any resilience strategy, but a synergic combination of climate and disaster risk-management, economic development and social protection systems is a necessary goal for law and policy reform.

The Caribbean is no stranger to the impacts of climate change, making disaster risk reduction a priority.

The region’s disaster profile has been aggravated by increasingly devastating tropical storms, as well as the frequency and intensity of yearly hurricanes; but Dominica is fast becoming a global leader in improving resilience through legislation and governance.

Wider strategy

In 2017, the island was devastated by Hurricane Maria, a Category 5 storm. This catastrophic event put every aspect of Dominica’s government, economy and society under strain.

It also provided the country with a unique opportunity to review its regulatory and infrastructure systems, in addition to the integrated goal of advancing climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction as part of a wider strategy to ensure sustainable socio-economic development.

Since then, Dominica has made significant choices designed to have a long-term impact on its governance model, including laws, strategies and plans, and the establishment of a specialist agency for climate resilience.

The new study was undertaken as part of an IFRC research project on disaster law, supported by the Irish Research Council and the European Commission (Horizon 2020).

Carpenter Laurean Charles, 64, is dismantling fallen roofs “just to help out”, he says, after Hurricane Maria swept through his neighbourhood of the Dominica capital, Roseau. The main river burst its banks and floodwater rose shoulder high in some parts of the centre, filling homes and businesses with mud, sand, wood and debris. (2017 library photo: Nina Svahn/Finnish Red Cross)