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A risk management approach to climate adaptation in the Caribbean

Anabelle Cardoso

The countries of the Caribbean community (CARICOM) have great cause for concern when it comes to climate change: the impacts of climate change could severely impact their development. Building and planning for climate resilient, low carbon economies is a tall challenge, and will require a transformational approach. A new knowledge brief, authored by Acclimatise CEO John Firth, for the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC or ‘5Cs’), describes how decision-making processes based on risk management will help Caribbean leaders rise to the challenge.

CARICOM leaders together recognised the serious threat of climate change in 2009, when they signed the Lillendaal Declaration and tasked the 5Cs with producing a Regional Framework for Achieving Development Resilient to Climate Change. The brief draws on Acclimatise’s experience in developing the implementation plan for the Regional Framework, which was approved by CARICOM Heads of Government in March 2012.

This brief introduces the risk management approach at the heart of CARICOM’s Implementation Plan. It argues that decision making always has subjective and political elements; a reality that the Implementation Plan addresses head on. The Plan promotes a culture of risk assessment and management that aims to guide policy makers to allow them to take decisions on the environmental, social and economic challenges associated with tackling climate change. The brief stresses that climate change must be addressed within the broader context of the Caribbean’s aspirations for growth and sustainable development.

The knowledge brief’s key messages include:

  • The Regional Framework is founded upon the principle of using risk management processes and tools to aid decision making.

  • A risk management process is required that will allow the complexities and uncertainties of climate change to be navigated and tailored to the specific needs of the Caribbean.

  • Building resilience and adaptation planning has a political dimension, it’s not just a technical response.

  • Addressing climate change without addressing the existing underlying sustainable development and growth challenges faced by member states will not deliver resilience. Building low carbon climate resilience within the context of the wider sustainable development objective has to become an integral feature of all policy setting and decision making.

To build on the Implementation Plan’s recommendations, the 5Cs will support pilot projects to integrate risk management in decision making in up to five countries. The focus will be on setting up national coordinating mechanisms in liaison with Ministries of Finance.

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