The United States is taking a leading role in addressing climate change in the Caribbean region by advancing an ever-expanding set of measures. The Embassy has initiated a number of partnerships that address the possible impacts of climate change. Through USAID, the United States is contributing more than US$14 million to reduce the risk to human and national assets arising from climate change in the Eastern Caribbean. The United States and our partners are doing so by strengthening the country’s adaptive capabilities to climate change with a focus on freshwater management and supporting coastal/marine resilience.
In the Caribbean, countries are particularly vulnerable to extreme weather events. Hurricanes and tropical storms strike the Eastern Caribbean each year with greater frequency and intensity. In the past 5 years, major impacts related to changes in climate have included:
- more floods, caused by increased severity, duration and frequency of rainfall events
- increased droughts conditions with longer time spans
- a rise in sea level leading to increased coastal erosion
- saltwater intrusion into coastal aquifers; increased sea surface temperature
- increased seawater temperatures at all depths, causing more stress on the temperature-sensitive coral reefs, leading in turn to major coral bleaching which have the potential of reducing reef resilience to other factors, such as pollution and coral diseases
Climate change is a serious threat to sustainable development in the Caribbean. Not only do the majority of the Caribbean residents reside within the coastal corridor, but the major infrastructure of the primary economic driver, tourism, is located there as well. Other economic sectors, e.g. fishing, agriculture, are also heavily dependent on thriving ecosystems, and will be significantly affected as a result of the impacts of climate change.
As such, key areas for United States assistance and support include:
- Immediate disaster and humanitarian assistance
- Improving the regulatory environment to support a reduction in vulnerability
- Interventions in the freshwater and coastal/marine sectors to demonstrate sound adaptation measures to counter the effects of climate change
- Strengthened information systems to support sound decision making
- Public awareness and education programs to support pro-active actions by citizens to climate change